A study investigating the need and impact of pediatric palliative care education on undergraduate medical students in Japan

J Palliat Med. 2011 May;14(5):560-2. doi: 10.1089/jpm.2010.0475. Epub 2011 Mar 8.


Background: Education for medical students is crucial to providing pediatric palliative care (PPC). However, few comprehensive curricula of PPC exist in Japan.

Objective: This study aimed to identify and explore the need for education of, as well as the impact of that education on, medical students in Japan.

Participants: The participants were 5th-year medical students (n = 30) who studied in our hospital from April 2009 to March 2010.

Design/methods: The first survey questionnaire was administered before, during, and after a small group lecture on PPC, followed by a discussion. The lecture discussed and imparted knowledge about general principles of PPC. The second survey questionnaire was administered in September 2010 to determine students understanding and attitudes about PPC.

Results: In the first survey, none of the students reported any exposure to PPC through textbooks or lectures prior to the lecture. In addition, all of them defined PPC as pain management in end-of-life care for children with cancer. The survey also indicated that after the lecture, they understood the principles of PPC well. Although they scored low in their understanding of PPC in the second survey, their attitude toward the lecture was positive.

Discussions/conclusions: This study provided the first opportunity to effectively understand the effect of education on PPC in the short term. However, this effect was inadequate in the long term. Development of organized medical education systems with a primary focus on PPC is urgently needed. Discussion with professionals from multiple disciplines with regard to ethical, legal, and cultural issues, and social consensus are necessary to develop good educational systems.

MeSH terms

  • Curriculum
  • Education, Medical, Undergraduate*
  • Humans
  • Japan
  • Palliative Care*
  • Students, Medical*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires