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Education in End-of-Life Care: What Do Experienced Professionals Find Important?

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End-of-life care is an essential element of quality cancer care. Nevertheless, a majority of physicians and nurses working at cancer centers feel unprepared for this task. As part of a larger survey study, we investigated what suggestions experienced physicians and nurses have to improve education/training on end-of-life care. In an open question, participants were requested to suggest changes to the end-of-life curriculum for physicians and nurses. Answers to this question were content analyzed using the qualitative data analysis software MAXQDA. Physicians and nurses at 10 cancer centers throughout Baden-Wuerttemberg were surveyed. From the total 1131 survey participants, 675 (483 nurses, 167 physicians, 25 unknown) responded to the open question regarding suggestions for education/training in end-of-life care. Two main categories were inductively developed: (1) format (i.e., structure and method of teaching) and (2) content (i.e., knowledge and know-how required for care of the dying). Regarding format, both professional groups most often wished for more practical experiences with dying patients (e.g., internships at hospices). Regarding content, physicians and nurses most frequently requested (1) more basic information on palliative care, (2) increased skills training in communication, and (3) knowledge of how to appropriately care for patients’ caregivers. The results of our analysis reflect already trained physicians’ and nurses’ interest in furthering their knowledge and skills to care for dying patients. The suggestions of experienced physicians and nurses should be integrated into the further development of palliative care curricula.

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Correspondence to Karin Jors.

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Abstract previously presented at the German Association for Palliative Care Conference, 2014. Title: “Ausbildung für den Umgang mit Sterbenden: Veränderungswünsche von Ärzten und Pflegenden an baden-württembergischen Tumorzentren”

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Jors, K., Seibel, K., Bardenheuer, H. et al. Education in End-of-Life Care: What Do Experienced Professionals Find Important?. J Canc Educ 31, 272–278 (2016).

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