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.
What do primary care providers need to know about palliative care? A scoping review of palliative care education and training needs
Background: Primary care providers play a significant role in palliative care service provision. To help gain insight into and increase awareness of palliative education and training needs in primary care settings, a scoping review of the literature was undertaken. The specific needs of providers in palliative care, with respect to their education and training, are seldom addressed.
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.
Results: A total of 5,109 hits were generated, leading to 2,875 unique titles and abstracts for individual review. Of these, 53 full-text articles were retrieved; 33 articles met the inclusion criteria and were included in the review. Five major themes were identified: (1) enhanced communication skills; (2) knowledge with regard to spiritual and psychosocial needs; (3) greater skills in pain and symptom management; (4) improved cultural proficiency; and (5) experience working within interdisciplinary teams. Practical experience in palliative and end-of-life care was cited as one of the most beneficial methods in helping to improve knowledge about and ability to practice in the field. Many primary care practitioners believed that training in the area of palliative care is inadequate and felt unprepared to provide the necessary care for patients. Specifically, poor communication between healthcare professionals and patients was found to adversely affect the level of palliative care that is provided. The majority of the articles emphasized the need for education and training programs to enhance the quality of palliative and end-of-life care service provision.
Conclusion: On the whole, palliative care education and training programs were found to have numerous benefits, including enhancing providers’ knowledge of and attitudes towards this subject, ability to provide palliative and end-of-life care, and self-perception of preparedness in this area. With providers citing a lack of adequate support and education in this field, a clear demand exists for more effective palliative care training programs. The audience will learn about next steps that will be undertaken to meet the constantly changing needs of providers.