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Long-term effects of an undergraduate palliative care course: a prospective cohort study in El Salvador
  1. Miguel Fortin Magaña,
  2. Susana Diaz,
  3. Pablo Salazar-Colocho,
  4. Ancu Feng and
  5. Mario López-Saca
  1. Palliative Medicine, Dr Jose Matias Delgado University, San Salvador, El Salvador
  1. Correspondence to Dr Miguel Fortin Magaña, Palliative Medicine, Universidad Dr Jose Matias Delgado, San salvador, El Salvador; miguelfortin14{at}


Background International organisations recommend the inclusion of palliative care undergraduate education as a way to meet increasing demand; the long-term effects, however, are unknown. Since 2013 the Dr José Matías Delgado University has offered an undergraduate course for palliative care.

Aims To assess whether a palliative care course results in improvement in self-perceived comfort among students and if it lasts up to 4 years later; and to examine students’ knowledge of palliative care and assess the relationship between comfort and knowledge.

Design This is a prospective cohort study where students attending the course were requested to complete the Scale of Self-Perceived Comfort in palliative care pre and post course. Participants were contacted in 2018 and a group without palliative care education was established as a control group, matched one-to-one according to current academic level. They were asked to complete the Scale of Self-Perceived Comfort questionnaire together with the Palliative Care Knowledge Test.

Settings/participants 83 students who attended the course between the years 2014 and 2017 and 101 controls.

Results In the postcourse test, participants had a 1.13-point increase (p≤0.001) in comfort, which persisted 4 years later and was superior to the control group by 0.6 points (p≤0.001). The control group showed no difference in the precourse test despite having more clinical experience (p=0.68). The students outscored the control group in the knowledge test by 4.2 points (p≤0.001). There appears to be no correlation between comfort and knowledge.

Conclusion A palliative care undergraduate course results in improvement in student comfort and knowledge which persists up to 4 years later.

  • education and training
  • communication
  • symptoms and symptom management

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  • Contributors MLS and MFM conceived of the study. MFM, PS-C and SD designed the data collection tools, wrote the statistical analysis plan, cleaned and analysed the data, and drafted and edited the paper. MLS and PS-C are the guarantors. AF analysed the data, and drafted and edited the paper. All authors contributed to the refinement of the study protocol and approved the final manuscript.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient consent for publication Not required.

  • Ethics approval Ethical approval was obtained from the Ethics Committee of the UJMD, El Salvador (025-2018).

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

  • Data availability statement Data are available upon reasonable request. All data relevant to the study are included in the article or uploaded as supplementary information. Data will be made available for verification purposes upon request as participants did not consent to data sharing beyond the research team. Details can be found at ORCID: 0000-0002-0255-7414.