Educational impact of paediatric palliative simulation study days

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Abstract

Background

The use of simulation-based medical/nursing teaching is increasingly widespread. Simulation-based teaching offers an immersive learning experience where professionals can practice communication and practical skills in a safe, authentic environment. We designed a paediatric palliative simulation study day primarily aimed at nursing staff who manage these patients in the community/hospice. We believe this is the first of its kind in the UK.

Aims

To establish whether attendance at a paediatric palliative simulation study day improved confidence and knowledge in management of common and/or difficult situations in palliative care.

Method

Health professionals working at local paediatric hospices or in associated specialties to palliative care were invited to attend the free 1-day course. 5 scenarios were developed by experienced health professionals working in paediatric palliative care. On the day, participants were asked to complete a questionnaire to check basic demographic data, confidence levels and knowledge (50 true/false questions). Following participation/observation of 5 scenarios, they again completed the same questionnaire regarding confidence levels and knowledge. Results were analysed with Excel and XLStat using basic demographic data and Wilcoxon signed rank two-tailed test.

Results

57 healthcare workers participated in 5 study days. 81% (n=47) professionals described themselves as working primarily in palliative care. Only 35% (n=20) had previously experienced simulation. Based on confidence questions, attendees felt more confident in managing specific palliative scenarios (p<0.0001). Based on true/false questions prestudy and poststudy day, 86% (n=49) of participants improved their knowledge. The median improvement score for the cohort was 3 (p<0.0001).

Conclusions

The study demonstrated a significant improvement in confidence and knowledge following the simulation course. This supports further time/financial investment in developing this type of study day. Simulation is a useful teaching adjunct in paediatric palliative care. The course also provides a valuable opportunity for professionals to network and discuss/share experiences.

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