Palliative care nursing education features more prominently in 2015 than 2005: Results from a nationwide survey and qualitative analysis of curricula

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Making palliative care accessible to all citizens who are in need of this type of care requires effective policies and education. Moreover, healthcare professionals have an ethical and legal responsibility to ensure quality palliative care. Nevertheless, palliative care has had traditionally a limited emphasis in healthcare professionals' undergraduate education.


To study the current status of palliative care education in nursing undergraduate curricula and compare 2005 and 2015 findings.


An online survey was sent to all state schools providing nursing undergraduate education in Portugal (N = 21). The survey assessed if and how palliative care was included in the curricula, and whether or not national and international recommendations for palliative care nursing education were followed. Further analysis included the content of available curricula/syllabi.


A total of 19 schools completed the survey (90% of response rate). These institutions are geographically dispersed and representative of state nursing educational institutions in Portugal.


In 2015, all participant schools integrated palliative care in their curricula; nine schools had palliative care as an independent curricular unit (an 800% increase compared to 2005). While in 2005, only 14 out of 23 (61%) schools included palliative care explicitly in their curricula; in 2015, all 19 participant schools did so. National and international recommendations were followed.


The inclusion of palliative care within nursing undergraduate curricula strongly increased from 2005 to 2015. Further research is needed to understand the contribution of education in the access, care provision, quality and development of palliative care in this country.

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