BMJ Support Palliat Care doi:10.1136/bmjspcare-2012-000306
  • Review

Instruments used to measure the effectiveness of palliative care education initiatives at the undergraduate level: a critical literature review

  1. Hayley Neil
  1. School of Nursing, University of Auckland, Auckland, New Zealand
  1. Correspondence to Dr Rosemary Ann Frey, School of Nursing, University of Auckland, PO Box 92019, Auckland Mail Centre, 1142 Auckland, New Zealand; r.frey{at}


Background The increase in the numbers of patients with palliative care needs has resulted in growing pressures on the small number of specialist palliative care providers within the New Zealand context. These pressures can potentially be eased by ensuring an adequately trained workforce, beginning with undergraduate training in the healthcare field. The goal of the present review is to ascertain what tools exist to measure the effectiveness of undergraduate palliative care education initiatives.

Method A systematic review of qualitative and quantitative literature was undertaken. Searches within ERIC, CINAHL Plus, Medline and Medline in Progress, and Google Scholar databases were conducted for the period 1990–2011. A checklist adapted from Hawker et al was used to select and assess data.

Results 14 of the 112 articles met the inclusion criteria. Overall inconsistencies in the amount of validation information provided and a narrow focus on aspects of palliative care competence was apparent. No universally applicable validated questionnaire to assess the effectiveness of undergraduate palliative care education could be identified.

Conclusions The increased focus by educational institutions on instilling palliative care skills in healthcare students necessitates the development of comprehensive and validated tools to evaluate the effectiveness of education initiatives.

  • Accepted 30 October 2012.
  • Published Online First 30 November 2012

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