Background: Despite the world-wide growth of specialist palliative care services, the bulk of care and decision making at the end of life are delivered in general hospital, primary care, and aged care settings. Health workers of all disciplines therefore need to develop attitudes, knowledge, and skills required to deliver palliative care.
Aim: To develop, deliver, and evaluate a short multidisciplinary education program focusing on the core elements of palliative care.
Method: A 2-day program was developed by an expert panel comprising academics, policy makers, clinicians, and a caregiver representative. Evaluation consisted of a pretest/posttest questionnaire aimed at identifying participants' palliative care knowledge and confidence at three time points; prior to attending the program, at the conclusion of the program, and 1 month later. In addition a session evaluation questionnaire sought to determine whether the session was interesting, informative, and useful.
Results: The program was delivered four times in both metropolitan and regional areas of Australia to a total of 537 participants incorporating a range of disciplines and care settings. Participants reported significant improvement in key areas including; ability to identify patients likely to benefit from a palliative approach, communication skills, symptom management, family-centered care, legal and ethical issues, and grief and bereavement.
Conclusions: The majority of participants identified that the program increased their levels of interest, knowledge, and confidence in relation to palliative care. The findings demonstrate that multidisciplinary educational approaches of this type can be effective in the context of delivering palliative care education. The high demand to attend the program suggests the need for ongoing palliative care educational activities.