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Teaching end-of-life communication: priorities, challenges, scope—systematic review


Background Without a well-rounded syllabus to teach end-of-life (EOL) communication, medical providers find it challenging to enhance their patients’ quality of life at the final stage of life.

Aim The aim of this scoping review was to explore studies about the teaching of EOL communication and to detail how educators can approach the teaching of EOL communication.

Methods A scoping review of both qualitative and quantitative studies was conducted according to the methodological framework of scoping review. The PsycINFO, PubMed, ERIC, CINAHL and EMBASE databases were searched for studies using the keywords ‘teach’, ‘educat*’, ‘end of life’, ‘terminal care’, ‘communication’ and ‘palliative care’. Sixteen studies were appraised, and none was rejected on the grounds of quality.

Results The search strategy yielded 22 278 entries and 16 studies were included. Two themes were identified from the priorities in teaching EOL communication: (1) challenges to teaching EOL communication and (2) methods of teaching EOL communication. To present a comprehensive overview of EOL communication teaching, we provide directions for priorities of topics and approaches when teaching EOL communication.

Conclusions The review detailed the complexity of teaching EOL communication, which indicates the need for a well-rounded syllabus that includes skills such as non-verbal social cues, communication strategies and understanding EOL communication in various cultural contexts to facilitate a well-rounded EOL communication experience for students’ future practice.

  • communication
  • end of life care
  • education and training
  • cancer
  • terminal care

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