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Progress and divergence in palliative care education for medical students: A comparative survey of UK course structure, content, delivery, contact with patients and assessment of learning

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Paul Paes


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Background: Effective undergraduate education is required to enable newly qualified doctors to safely care for patients with palliative care and end-of-life needs. The status of palliative care teaching for UK medical students is unknown.Aim: To investigate palliative care training at UK medical schools and compare with data collected in 2000.Design: An anonymised, web-based multifactorial questionnaire.Settings/participants: Results were obtained from palliative care course organisers at all 30 medical schools in 2013 and compared with 23 medical schools (24 programmes) in 2000.Results: All continue to deliver mandatory teaching on last days of life, death and bereavement'. Time devoted to palliative care teaching time varied (2000: 6-100h, mean 20h; 2013: 7-98h, mean 36h, median 25h). Current palliative care teaching is more integrated. There was little change in core topics and teaching methods. New features include involvement in clinical areas', participation of patient and carers and attendance at multidisciplinary team meetings. Hospice visits are offered (22/24 (92%) vs 27/30 (90%)) although they do not always involve patient contact. There has been an increase in students' assessments (2000: 6/24, 25% vs 2013: 25/30, 83%) using a mixture of formative and summative methods. Some course organisers lack an overview of what is delivered locally.Conclusion: Undergraduate palliative care training continues to evolve with greater integration, increased teaching, new delivery methods and wider assessment. There is a trend towards increased patient contact and clinical involvement. A minority of medical schools offer limited teaching and patient contact which could impact on the delivery of safe palliative care by newly qualified doctors.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Walker S, Gibbins J, Barclay S, Adams A, Paes P, Chandratilake M, Gishen F, Lodge P, Wee B

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Palliative Medicine

Year: 2016

Volume: 30

Issue: 9

Pages: 834-842

Print publication date: 01/10/2016

Online publication date: 04/02/2016

Acceptance date: 01/01/1900

ISSN (print): 0269-2163

ISSN (electronic): 1477-030X

Publisher: Sage Publications Ltd.


DOI: 10.1177/0269216315627125


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