Background: Healthcare professionals trained in palliative care (PC) improve satisfaction and decrease healthcare overutilization for patients with serious illness and their families. A continuing education (CE) series on primary PC aligned to the National Clinical Practice Guidelines for Quality PC was developed by local, interdisciplinary experts for a target audience of rural, primary care healthcare professionals. The modules were accessed on an online learning management system platform.
Objective: The study objectives were to assess differences in participants’ knowledge, competence, performance, and ability to improve patient care as well as commitment to change practice after taking each of the CE modules. Design and Methods: To achieve these objectives, a descriptive design was used with a convenience sample of healthcare professionals who registered for the CE series and completed at least one module. Participants completed demographic questions and an evaluation survey after completing each module.
Results: So far, 158 healthcare professionals have registered for the series with the majority being nurses and social workers. Although the professionals reported having extensive healthcare experience, they did not report having the same level of PC experience. The professionals represent nine different states. All the CE modules increased teamwork skills for most participants. The CE modules on cultural aspects and self-care had the biggest influence on participants’ ability to improve patient outcomes. Cultural aspects, care of the actively dying, and advance care planning had the greatest impact on participants’ knowledge, competence, and performance.
Conclusion: The primary PC education series improved self-reported skills in teamwork, practice habits, and meeting goals of healthcare professionals from a variety of disciplines and settings. These enhanced primary PC skills will improve the incorporation of PC into a variety of practice settings, by multiple disciplines to enhance access to PC outside of, and potentially referrals to, specialty PC programs. Palliative care (PC) is an emerging field of healthcare aimed at positively affecting patients living with serious illness and their families. An important factor that influences a health professional’s successful delivery of PC may be their knowledge, experiences, and confidence. PC training provided to healthcare professionals improves patients’ and healthcare professionals’ satisfaction and reduces healthcare expenditures through cost savings and cost avoidance.
Palliative Care & Social Practice
DOI of Published Version
Copyright © the Authors
Berke C, Mollman S, Skoglund A, Pravecek B, Perrenoud M, Stewart C. New ways to impact primary palliative care practices using online continuing education. Palliative Care and Social Practice. 2023;17. doi:10.1177/26323524231179977
Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License