Implementing cancer pain education for medical students

Cancer Pract. 2001 Sep-Oct;9(5):225-9. doi: 10.1046/j.1523-5394.2001.009005225.x.


Purpose: The purpose of this study was to develop and pilot a cancer pain education course for medical students, using a structured home hospice visit.

Description of study: A 1-hour home hospice visit was presented to 57 senior medical students. The content and objective criteria for the structured home hospice visit were developed by a multidisciplinary group of experts. During a 1-hour interview, students completed a cancer pain history, performed a focused physical examination, and received feedback and teaching regarding the essentials of cancer pain management from the hospice nurse. All students and hospice patients completed a multi-item evaluation questionnaire with a 5-point Likert scale (1=strongly disagree; 5=strongly agree) regarding the structured home hospice visit.

Results: Most students agreed strongly that the home hospice visit was a positive experience (mean +/- SD 4.8 +/- 0.44) that helped them to understand the management of cancer pain (mean 4.7 +/- 0.46) and opioid-related side effects (mean 4.5 +/- 0.57). Most patients enjoyed visiting with the students (mean 4.90 +/- 0.30), agreed that the visit was not tiring (mean 4.81 +/- 0.51), and felt that they benefited from participating (mean 4.76 +/- 0.54).

Clinical implications: The authors concluded the following: 1) that medical students benefited from learning about cancer pain assessment and management through the use of a structured home hospice visit; 2) that a structured home hospice visit helped the students to learn the basics of cancer pain management; 3) that patients enjoyed their role as teacher for medical students; and 4) that senior hospice nurses provided excellent instruction for medical students in the management of cancer pain.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Curriculum
  • Education, Medical / organization & administration*
  • Hospice Care
  • Humans
  • Neoplasms / complications*
  • Pain / etiology
  • Pain Management*
  • Palliative Care
  • Students, Medical*