Development, implementation and evaluation of a terminal and hospice care educational online module for preclinical students

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Abstract

Objectives

To explore the application of an online learning tool to teach preclinical medical students terminal and hospice care in a blended curricula.

Methods

We created and evaluated a 30 min interactive online module at the Yale School of Medicine. Second-year medical students were randomly assigned to complete the online module or not (control group) prior to attending a required half-day hospice clinical experience. We assessed the students' knowledge and attitudes with a 23-item survey.

Results

152 students (response rate 51%) participated in this study from 2012 to 2014. 56% (n=85) completed the online module, 37% (n=56) did not and 7% (n=11) did not indicate whether they had completed the module or not. Students who completed the online module prior to the hospice experience scored higher (p<0.05, two-way analysis of variance) on 5 out of 8 of the multiple choice questions pertaining to hospice and palliative care, but their attitudes were similar to those who did not complete the online module. Overall, the students felt somewhat uncomfortable caring for dying patients although they regarded it as a physician's duty and felt that palliative/hospice care education is important in medical school.

Conclusions

When combined with a mentored clinical hospice experience, an online module appears to enhance the teaching of the dying process and terminal care for preclinical medical students. This online module may prove useful for other institutions.

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