Towards cultural competency in end-of-life communication training

Hawaii Med J. 2011 Nov;70(11):239-41.


To meet the needs of a more diverse population, a culturally sensitive approach to end-of-life communication is critical. This paper describes a unique communication workshop that introduces future physicians to the delivery of culturally responsive care for patients in palliative and end-of-life treatment. The workshop is embedded within the required fourth year medical student rotation in Geriatrics and Palliative Care. Using case-vignettes, role playing, and small group discussions, content areas include: breaking bad news, discussing advanced directives, and decisions regarding withdrawal or withholding of treatment. Post workshop student evaluations reveal an overwhelmingly favorable response to the curriculum, with high scores for overall quality of the workshop, practical value, and appropriateness for level of training. This workshop meets the goal for all graduating medical students to engage in culturally competent palliative and end of life patient care.

Keywords: cultural competency; curriculum; education; end of life care; medical; palliative care.

MeSH terms

  • Advance Care Planning
  • Checklist
  • Communication*
  • Cultural Competency*
  • Curriculum*
  • Education
  • Education, Medical / methods*
  • Geriatrics
  • Humans
  • Palliative Care / methods*
  • Program Evaluation
  • Teaching