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Effect of short-term research training programs on medical students’ attitudes toward aging


Strategies to build a larger workforce of physicians dedicated to research on aging are needed. One method to address this shortage of physician scientists in geriatrics is short-term training in aging research for early-stage medical students. The authors examined the effects of two summer research training programs, funded by the National Institutes of Health, on medical students' attitudes toward aging, using the Carolina Opinions on Care of Older Adults (COCOA). The programs combined mentored research, didactics, and some clinical exposure. In a sample of 134 participants, COCOA scores improved significantly after completion of the research training program. There was a significant interaction of gender, such that female students had higher baseline scores than males, but this gender difference in COCOA scores was attenuated following the program. Four of the six COCOA subscales showed significant improvement from baseline: early interest in geriatrics, empathy/compassion, attitudes toward geriatrics careers, and ageism.

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