Background: Training, practice, and continuing professional development in old age psychiatry varies across Europe. The aims of this study were to survey current practice and develop recommendations to begin a debate on harmonization.
Methods: A survey was sent out to 38 European countries via email. The survey was sent to members of the European Association of Geriatric Psychiatry (EAGP) Board, members of the World Psychiatric Association, and key old age psychiatrists or other psychiatrists with a special interest in the area for countries where old age psychiatry was not formally a specialty.
Results: Through a process of networking, we identified a key individual from each country in Europe to participate in this study, and 30 out of 38 (79%) representatives responded. Training programs and duration varied between countries. Eleven countries reported that they had geriatric psychiatry training programs and most of these required geriatric psychiatry trainees to complete mandatory training for two years within old age psychiatry. Representatives from ten countries reported having specific Continuing Professional Development (CPD) for old age psychiatrists at consultant level.
Conclusion: There is a clear indication that the recognition of geriatric psychiatry as a specialist discipline in Europe is on the rise. The training procedures and processes in place vary considerably between and sometimes within countries. There are several options for harmonizing old age psychiatry training across Europe with advantages to each. However, support is required from national old age psychiatry bodies across Europe and an agreement needs to be reached on a training strategy that encompasses supervision, development, and appraisal of the knowledge and skills sets of old age psychiatrists.