Background The experience of art offers an emerging field in healthcare staff development, much of which is appropriate to the practice of palliative care. The workings of aesthetic learning interventions such as interactive theatre in relation to palliative and end of-life care staff development programmes are widely uncharted.
Aim To investigate the use of aesthetic learning interventions used in palliative and end-of-life care staff development programmes.
Design Scoping review.
Data sources Published literature from 1997 to 2015, MEDLINE, CINAHL and Applied Social Sciences Index and Abstracts, key journals and citation tracking.
Results The review included 138 studies containing 60 types of art. Studies explored palliative care scenarios from a safe distance. Learning from art as experience involved the amalgamation of action, emotion and meaning. Art forms were used to transport healthcare professionals into an aesthetic learning experience that could be reflected in the lived experience of healthcare practice. The proposed learning included the development of practical and technical skills; empathy and compassion; awareness of self; awareness of others and the wider narrative of illness; and personal development.
Conclusion Aesthetic learning interventions might be helpful in the delivery of palliative care staff development programmes by offering another dimension to the learning experience. As researchers continue to find solutions to understanding the efficacy of such interventions, we argue that evaluating the contextual factors, including the interplay between the experience of the programme and its impact on the healthcare professional, will help identify how the programmes work and thus how they can contribute to improvements in palliative care.
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