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Palliative care training in undergraduate medical, nursing and allied health: a survey
  1. Nicola White1,
  2. Linda JM Oostendorp1,
  3. Ollie Minton2,
  4. Sarah Yardley1,3 and
  5. Patrick Stone1
  1. 1Marie Curie Palliative Care Research Department, University College London, London, UK
  2. 2Palliative Medicine, Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals NHS Trust, Brighton, UK
  3. 3Palliative Medicine, Central and North West London NHS Foundation Trust, London, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr Nicola White, Marie Curie Palliative Care Research Department, University College London, London W1T 7NF, UK; n.g.white{at}


Objectives Impending death is poorly recognised. Many undergraduate healthcare professionals will not have experience of meeting or caring for someone who is dying. As death can occur in any setting, at any time, it is vital that all healthcare students, regardless of the setting they go on to work in, have end-of-life care (EOLC) training. The aim was to determine current palliative care training at the undergraduate level, in multiple professions, in recognising and communicating dying.

Methods Current UK undergraduate courses in medicine, adult nursing, occupational therapy, social work and physiotherapy were included. All courses received an email asking what training is currently offered in the recognition and communication of dying, and what time was dedicated to this.

Results A total of 73/198 (37%) courses responded to the request for information. 18/20 medical courses provided training in recognising when patients were dying (median 2 hours), and 17/20 provided training in the communication of dying (median 3 hours). 80% (43/54) of nursing and allied health professional courses provided some training in EOLC. Many of the course organisers expressed frustration at the lack of resources, funding and time to include more training. Those courses with more palliative care provision often had a ‘champion’ to advocate for it.

Conclusions Training in EOLC was inconsistent across courses and professions. Further research is needed to understand how to remove the barriers identified and to improve the consistency of current training.

  • palliative care
  • education
  • death

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  • Correction notice This article has been corrected since it was first published online. The citations in text have been amended to follow the original submitted manuscript.

  • Contributors All the authors contributed to this manuscript and have consented to the submission of this paper. NW, LJMO, SY and PS refined the aims, methodology and interpretation of the responses. OM helped in the interpretation of the responses.

  • Funding This work was supported by the Marie Curie Care (MCCC-FPO-16-U) and the UCLH NIHR Biomedical Research Centre.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient consent for publication Not required.

  • Ethics approval The UCL ethics committee determined that no ethical approval was required.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Data availability statement The data set supporting the conclusions of this article is included within the article.

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