BMJ Support Palliat Care doi:10.1136/bmjspcare-2012-000336
  • Research

Palliative care education in neonatal units: impact on knowledge and attitudes

  1. Myra Bluebond-Langner1
  1. 1Louis Dundas Centre for Children's Palliative Care, UCL Institute of Child Health, London, UK
  2. 2Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, Chelsea and Westminster Hospital Foundation Trust, London, UK
  3. 3Louis Dundas Centre, Haematology – Oncology Outreach and Palliative Care team. Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children NHS Foundation Trust, London UK
  1. Correspondence to Professor Myra Bluebond-Langner, True Colours Chair in Paediatric Palliative Care for Children and Young People, Louis Dundas Centre for Children's Palliative Care, UCL, Institute of Child Health, 30 Guilford Street, London WC1N 1EH, UK; bluebond{at}


Objective To facilitate improved and earlier access to palliative care for babies, a 4-h workshop on the principles, practice and resources in palliative care was delivered in 21 neonatal units across London. This paper assesses the impact of these workshops.

Design As part of mixed methods, processual evaluation of a series of education workshops, a pre and post survey instrument was developed, consisting of open and closed questions assessing knowledge of services and attitudes towards palliative care. Before and after each workshop attendees were invited to complete the survey.

Setting Neonatal units in hospitals across London, including examples of intensive care, high dependency and special care units.

Results 331 healthcare professionals attended the sessions, and 264 (80%) completed questionnaires. The majority of attendees were experienced neonatal nurses working in neonatal intensive care  (61% more than 7 years) but with limited experience of palliative care services. Over 79% of respondents reported that the workshop completely met their learning needs. Post-session 80% of respondents felt confident referring to palliative care services, compared with 46% before (p<0.001). Analysis of open and closed text responses revealed a shift in attitude after the sessions from a focus on dying/end-of-life, towards integrating palliative care as part of a holistic treatment plan.

Conclusions A short (half day), locally delivered workshop can change attitudes and increase knowledge in neonatal staff. Such a workshop can serve as a first step in facilitating access to and utilisation of a variety of palliative care services.

  • Received 19 July 2012.
  • Revision received 19 November 2012.
  • Accepted 20 November 2012.
  • Published Online First 14 December 2012

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