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Can e-learning be used to teach end-of-life care?
  1. Bee Wee
  1. Sir Michael Sobell House, Churchill Hospital, Oxford OX3 7LE, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr Bee Wee, Harris Manchester College, University of Oxford, UK; bee.wee{at}

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Caring for people approaching the end of their lives is intensely personal. Experiential teaching is regarded as one of the more reflective and suitable ways of teaching about end-of-life care. Doctors and medical students are used to bedside teaching. Lectures, especially didactic ones, may be comfortingly familiar, but their impact is variable. E-learning has been around for quite some time, but in terms of learning about end-of-life care, it is a relatively ‘new kid on the block’.

Many clinicians and educators regard e-learning with scepticism, especially in relation to a subject as personal and sensitive as end-of-life care. This is especially the case if they have been exposed to poorly designed e-learning programmes, or those that appear irrelevant, simplistic or not rooted in the real world of practice. The increasing pressure to complete requirements for statutory and mandatory training through e-learning programmes has increased the aversion that some clinicians have toward this whole way of learning.

One of the major advantages that e-learning has over the more traditional forms of teaching is that it can reach great numbers of learners at the same time. This is why e-learning was identified as key to delivering training to the health and social care workforce across England, estimated to be 2.5 million people, when the End of Life Care Strategy was published in 2008.1 Commissioned by the Department of Health in England, and developed under the auspices of the e-Learning for Healthcare Programme, End of Life Care for All, known …

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  • Competing interests BW is National Clinical Lead for e-ELCA.

  • Provenance and peer review Commissioned; internally peer reviewed.