Jessica Hsieh, BA, MSW, received her undergraduate degree in psychology from York University and her Master of Social Work degree with a specialization in gerontology from the University of Toronto. She is a research coordinator at the National Initiative for the Care of the Elderly (NICE) and has extensive research administration and coordination experience, primarily in the field of gerontology. She has previous experience working in long-term care, as well as in child welfare. She is currently working on a Human Trafficking of the Elderly project out of Lakehead University, a study on Knowledge Mobilization for Older Adults out of the University of Toronto, and an Aboriginal Financial Literacy study with the National Initiative for the Care of the Elderly.
Education and training programs in primary palliative care: Do they work? A scoping review of the literature
Background: With a number of palliative education and training programs currently available for primary care providers, understanding the benefits and drawbacks of these programs would be advantageous to enhancing care in the field. Evaluating the effectiveness of these education and training program also serves as a vital aspect towards capacity building. A scoping review of the literature was undertaken in an attempt to gain insight into not only the methods and programs that are available to address primary care providers’ palliative educational needs, but also the efficacy of these programs.
Methods: Arksey and O’Malley’s scoping review framework was employed. Four scientific databases (EBSCO, OVID, ProQuest, and PubMed), including 16 individual repositories covering the medical and social science fields, were searched in August 2017, alongside the Grey literature and a hand-search of references from included articles. Any articles that were not available in English, were published prior to 1990, had a concentration on pediatric palliative care, and were specific to residential hospices and/or long-term care, were excluded from this review.
Results: A total of 5,821 hits were generated, leading to 3,687 unique titles and abstracts for individual review. Of these, 68 full-text articles were retrieved; 39 articles met the inclusion criteria and were included in the review. Five major themes were identified: (1) electronic and/or digital approaches; (2) academic detailing and/or just-in-time learning; (3) blended learning opportunities; (4) shadowing of other professionals and/or ride-alongs; and (5) classroom-based workshops and/or conferences.
Palliative care education was found to not only improve providers’ competency, attitudes towards, and confidence in this area, but also to positively influence a number of changes in practices. Following training sessions, communication with patients and their families was also reported to have been enhanced. Education and training programs were also found to be effective in helping lead to greater creative thinking within patient and family care, such as enhanced system navigation skills. Furthermore, online programs were found to be a very powerful method for delivering palliative care education to providers.
Conclusion: A variety of different palliative care education and training programs that are currently offered to primary care providers were explored in this review. Although the level of efficacy varied between the programs, it was clear that there are many benefits associated with palliative educational opportunities. Generally well-received by providers, palliative education and training programs that are effective can help to greatly improve perceived self-efficacy and attitudes towards palliative care.