Primary Care Residents Improve Knowledge, Skills, Attitudes, and Practice After a Clinical Curriculum With a Hospice

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Abstract

Effective approaches to teaching attitudes, knowledge, and skills to resident physicians in primary care that can be implemented in any residency program are needed. We examined the feasibility and impact of a single palliative care residency curriculum, including a clinical rotation with a hospice program, across 5 cohorts of residents in 7 divergent primary care residency programs (both family medicine and internal medicine). The didactic content was drawn from the national Education for Physicians on End-of-Life Care Project. A total of 448 residents completed the curriculum. A large effect size was seen in measures of knowledge change (*Cohen d = .89) when compared to a national sample of primary care residency programs. Additionally, measures of confidence to perform palliative care skills and ethical concerns also improved significantly (P < .001). A frequent comment is wishing the rest of medicine were like that experienced in the hospice setting. In a separate, ancillary evaluation, the average length of stay of patients enrolled in hospice care was 18.5 days longer for the alumni of this program when compared to physicians referring for hospice care who hadn’t experienced the curriculum.

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