Aim: To ascertain the perceived skills of students at U.K. medical schools in palliative medicine.
Design: A validated questionnaire survey.
Participants: Newly qualified U.K. pre-registration house officers (PRHOs).
Measures: A Likert scale from 0 to 5 for respondents to rate their perceived skills in four clinical scenarios, and their anxiety in caring for the dying.
Results: Mean confidence rating in breaking bad news was 2.9, in ability to empathize was 3.2, in discussing prognosis was 3.3, and in providing symptom control was 2.8. Mean anxiety rating in caring for a dying patient was 2.9. Of the comments, 24% wished for more "hands on" experience and 23% suggested further curriculum recommendations.
Conclusion: Teaching of palliative medicine is still inadequate for the needs of recently qualified doctors. Although PRHOs have identified a need for further instruction there is also acknowledgment that it is a difficult subject to teach. Recommendations are made for coordination of current interdepartmental teaching programs.