Education on end-of-life care in the medical curriculum: students' opinions and knowledge

J Palliat Med. 2010 Apr;13(4):381-7. doi: 10.1089/jpm.2009.0291.


Objectives: The aims of this study were to investigate: (1) opinions of medical students regarding quantity and content of education on end-of-life care in the curriculum, (2) medical students' knowledge of different aspects of the euthanasia act, and (3) factors associated with positive opinions about the quantity and content of education on end-of-life care in the curriculum.

Methods: A total of 204 medical students received a questionnaire; 176 completed it (response rate, 86%).

Results: Approximately half of the students (55%) considered the quantity of end-of-life care education in the curriculum moderate; 35% rated it as good. Half of the students rated the content of end-of-life care education as moderate (50%); 47% rated it as good. Fourteen percent of the students gave correct answers to 6 or 7 of the 8 questions about the euthanasia act. Students who took the elective course "Terminal and Palliative Care," students who had experience with a patient requesting euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide in their personal lives, and students with more knowledge of the euthanasia act were more positive about the quantity of end-of-life care education. Students who completed fewer clerkships and totally agreed with the statement, "Everyone has the right to decide about their own life and death" were more positive about the content on end-of-life care education.

Conclusions: The data of this study suggest that more attention can and should be paid to education on end-of-life care in the medical curriculum, so students are well prepared to provide adequate end-of-life care.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Attitude of Health Personnel
  • Clinical Competence
  • Curriculum / statistics & numerical data*
  • Education, Medical, Undergraduate*
  • Ethics, Medical / education
  • Euthanasia
  • Female
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Netherlands
  • Odds Ratio
  • Palliative Care*
  • Students, Medical / statistics & numerical data*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Terminal Care*