Background: In today’s complex healthcare delivery system, the needs of patients with serious illness and their families demand that healthcare professionals be educated in Palliative Care and End-of-Life Care.
Although there are evidence supporting the value of these types of care and the importance of healthcare professional’s education on these fields, the number of healthcare professionals enabled to provide it is inadequate to meet the needs of patients and families across the lifespan and the illness trajectory.
Aim: This study aimed to assess and characterize the knowledge on Palliative Care and End-of-Life Care of healthcare students from two Portuguese Universities.
Methods: An explorative quantitative design was developed to collect data between January and Mars of 2018 among students from ESSUA and FMUP. After the data was collected, it was analyzed using the version 22.0 from IBM SPSS.
Results: Study respondents (n=143) were mostly woman (91%), who had a curricular unit on Palliative Care (57%) and reported having an “medium” knowledge on the subjects covered (61%).
Conclusion/discussion: Although the knowledge on Palliative Care and End-of-Life Care of the questioned healthcare students was good, the data obtained showed that there are still misconceptions about these themes among them, namely to the introduction of Palliative Care as a care and the concept of Dysthanasia and Advanced Directives.
Since these misconceptions can lead to delays in meeting patients’ needs, a late transition to Palliative Care and discussing end-of-life issues with patients/families, it’s important to introduce specific training and curricular units on End-of-Life and Palliative Care since undergraduate courses.
Healthcare educators should initiate changes in undergraduate, graduate, and continuing education to ensure that future and practicing healthcare professionals have relevant attitudes, knowledge, and skills to care well for severally ill and dying patients.
We believe that early specific training, among other measures, will help to rehabilitate the place of death as a natural occurrence and humanize this process, reminding of how important it’s to discuss the person’s goal for Palliative or End-of-Life Care.