Classroom-based and distance learning education and training courses in end-of-life care for health and social care staff: A systematic review

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Abstract

Background:

Staff from a range of health and social care professions report deficits in their knowledge and skills when providing end-of-life and palliative care, and education and training has been advocated at a range of levels.

Aims:

To review the literature related to classroom-based and distance learning education and training initiatives for health and social care staff in end-of-life and palliative care, in terms of their target audience, extent, modes of delivery, content and teaching and learning strategies, and to identify the most effective educational strategies for enhancing care.

Design:

A systematic review of the literature evaluating classroom-based and distance learning education and training courses for health and social care staff in end-of-life and palliative care.

Data sources:

Online databases CINAHL, MEDLINE, EMBASE and PSYCHINFO between January 2000 and July 2010. Studies were selected that discussed specific education and training initiatives and included pre-and post-test evaluation of participants' learning.

Results:

30 studies met eligibility criteria. The majority reported successful outcomes, though there were some exceptions. Level of prior experience and availability of practice reinforcement influenced learning. Participative and interactive learning strategies were predominantly used along with discussion of case scenarios. Multi-professional learning was infrequently reported and service user and carer input to curriculum development and delivery was reported in only one study.

Conclusions:

Classroom-based education and training is useful for enhancing professionals' skills and perceived preparedness for delivering end-of-life care but should be reinforced by actual practice experience.

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