Objectives The need for public education on palliative care has been widely argued for. To develop effective educational strategies, a stronger evidence base is needed on what exactly is known and unknown about palliative care as well as what the differences are between subgroups.
Methods We conducted a cross-sectional population-based survey. Mail questionnaires were sent to a random sample of 4400 citizens (aged ≥16 years) within 4 municipalities in Flanders, Belgium. The Palliative Care Knowledge Scale (PaCKS) was used to measure knowledge. Associations between knowledge and sociodemographics and various experiential factors were tested, as well as the congruence between actual and self-perceived knowledge scores.
Results Response was obtained from 2008 (45.6%) citizens. The mean PaCKS score was 7.87 (SD 3.41; range 0–13) with the highest proportion (84.7%) correctly answering that palliative care is not specifically for older adults and the lowest (32.1%) correctly answering that improving the ability to participate in daily life is a palliative care goal. Being aged between 30 and 59, non-religious, more highly educated, having professional healthcare experience and knowing palliative care through personal experience were significantly associated with higher knowledge, while sex and informal caregiving experience were not. 52.4% self-perceived their knowledge as lower than it actually was.
Conclusions While the general public seems to be familiar with some basic concepts of palliative care, several key aspects remain unknown. Educational strategies, with suggested potential for community-based and experience-based approaches, may need to focus specifically on these aspects and not just on the broader palliative care concept.
- Education and training
Data availability statement
The data supporting the findings of this study are securely stored on an encrypted server at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel and are available from the corresponding author, MM, on reasonable request.
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Contributors BQ, JC, KC, ND, MM conceived and designed the study. BQ and MM collected the data. ND and MM performed the analysis. All authors contributed to the interpretation of the results. MM wrote the original draft of the manuscript and all authors critically revised it and approved the final version. LD is responsible for the overall content as guarantor.
Funding The author(s) disclosed receipt of the following financial support for the research, authorship and/or publication of this article: This study is supported by a grant from the Research Foundation-Flanders (file number S002219N) and part of the project 'CAPACITY: Flanders Project to Develop Capacity in Palliative Care Across Society', a collaboration between the Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Ghent University and the Catholic University Leuven, Belgium.
Competing interests None declared.
Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.
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