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Confidence in palliative care issues by medical students and internal medicine residents

Abstract

Background Palliative care (PC) is a relatively new field in Brazil, but this knowledge is of great importance in medical practice.

Objective To evaluate the degree of confidence among medical students and first-year and second-year internal medicine residents in addressing issues of death and terminal illness with patients and their families.

Method A modified version of the Self-Efficacy in Palliative Care Scale was applied to 293 students in their first year to sixth year at the School of Medicine of São José do Rio Preto and to 43 residents in their first year or second year of medical practice at the same institution in Brazil, in 2015. The questionnaire evaluated students' opinions on the need to include theoretical and practical classes on PC in the medical school.

Results Students in their fifth year of medical school were more confident than the students in their first, second, third and fourth years; there were no statistically significant differences between fifth-year students, sixth-year students and the internal medicine residents.

Conclusion Residents were more confident than all of the medical school students except those in their fifth year (P<0.05) because they have more contact with terminally ill patients than other students do; fifth-year medical students are likely overestimating their abilities.

  • end of life care
  • education and training
  • clinical decisions
  • communication
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