Distance learning for updating health professionals in palliative care: a systematic review

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Abstract

Objectives

To review literature regarding online educational initiatives in palliative care which are targeted to update health professionals and prepare distance courses suitable for a Brazilian context.

Methods

7 databases (PubMed, Cochrane Library, LILACS, SCIELO, CINAHL, Science Direct and Scopus) were reviewed for published papers between January 2004 and August 2014 using the PRISMA methodology. Included studies focused on health professionals and had at least part of the course in a distance learning approach.

Results

The UK, the USA, Canada and Australia stood out within the palliative care research papers. Among the 590 articles chosen, only 14 papers were included in this review due to the inclusion criteria. 9 used a mixed approach and 5 used online methods. The length of the courses, however, varied extensively and several methods were found to have been employed for teaching purposes, including videos, audio, images, poetry and simulation cases.

Conclusions

Although the literature is abundant in this area, there is limited research exploring the construction process of courses and how they can be applied to countries with limited resources. It is important to highlight, however, that the mixed teaching strategy, which allows for theoretical and practical activities at a low cost, is imperative for countries with limited resources in healthcare. Thus, this review can support new initiatives around the world, particularly in the low-income and middle-income countries.

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