Using the intensive care unit to teach end-of-life skills to rotating junior residents

Am J Surg. 2009 Jun;197(6):814-9. doi: 10.1016/j.amjsurg.2008.04.015. Epub 2008 Sep 11.


Background: This study tested the effectiveness and perceived value of a palliative/end-of-life (P/EOL) curriculum for junior residents implemented during an intensive care unit (ICU) rotation.

Methods: Residents rotating through the ICU over a 6-month period completed pre- and post-curriculum surveys evaluating their self-assessed efficacy in providing P/EOL care and attitudes towards P/EOL care. Scores were analyzed using a paired Student t test.

Results: Seventeen of 19 (90%) residents completed both the pre- and post-curriculum evaluations. The P/EOL curriculum increased self-assessed efficacy ratings in the domains of pain management (P = .04), psychosocial knowledge (P = .001), communicator knowledge (P = .001), professional knowledge (P = .002), and manager knowledge (P < .001). The rotation was rated as being valuable in preparing residents to care for patients near the end-of-life (P < .05), with surgery residents indicating it to be the most valuable rotation in their training program for learning about P/EOL care.

Conclusions: An ICU P/EOL curriculum improves self-assessed efficacy scores across multiple domains in P/EOL care and is seen as a valuable educational experience.

MeSH terms

  • Attitude of Health Personnel
  • Clinical Competence
  • Intensive Care Units*
  • Internship and Residency*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Terminal Care*