International Psychogeriatrics

Special Issue Articles

Developing effective educational approaches for Liaison Old Age Psychiatry teams: a literature review of the learning needs of hospital staff in relation to managing the confused older patient

Andrew Teodorczuka1 c1, Mark Welfarea1, Sally Corbetta1 and Elizabeta Mukaetova-Ladinskaa2

a1 Education Centre, Northumbria Healthcare Trust, North Tyneside Hospital, U.K.

a2 Institute for Ageing and Health, Newcastle University, Newcastle upon Tyne, U.K.


Background: Deficiencies in the knowledge, skills and attitudes of all healthcare professionals working within the general hospital contribute towards the suboptimal care of older hospitalized patients with confusion. In the U.K., policy dictates that Liaison Old Age Psychiatry teams deliver effective education to general hospital clinical staff. The purpose of this paper is to review the literature concerning the learning needs of healthcare professionals in relation to managing confusion in the older patient in order to inform effective educational approaches for Liaison Old Age Psychiatry teams.

Methods: A broad range of medical and educational databases were searched. Identified English language studies were selected for further analysis if they had a specific educational focus in the hospital setting and then further subdivided into intervention and naturalistic studies. The impact of intervention studies was evaluated by Kirkpatrick's system. Learning needs, as determined from the naturalistic studies, were mapped to identify themes.

Results: 13 intervention studies were identified. Despite a high level of effectiveness for educational interventions, it was unclear what the active components were. A further 23 naturalistic studies were identified; their findings focused on knowledge gaps, diagnostic behaviors and experiences, attitudes and training issues. Few studies specifically researched learning needs or the educational role of liaison teams. Conspicuous by its absence was reference to relevant educational theories.

Conclusions: The findings of this review can be incorporated in the planning of local curricula by Liaison Teams in order to design educational strategies. There is a need for further research, especially studies exploring the learning needs of all healthcare professionals.

(Received April 15 2009)

(Revised May 21 2009)

(Revised October 20 2009)

(Accepted October 21 2009)

(Online publication December 15 2009)


c1 Correspondence should be addressed to: Dr Andrew Teodorczuk, Northumbria Healthcare Trust, North Tyneside Hospital, North Shields, NE29 8NH, U.K. Phone: +44 191 203 1200; Fax: +44 191 293 4160. Email: