Using online learning and interactive simulation to teach spiritual and cultural aspects of palliative care to interprofessional students

J Palliat Med. 2012 Nov;15(11):1240-7. doi: 10.1089/jpm.2012.0038. Epub 2012 Aug 23.


Background: To meet the complex needs of patients with serious illness, health professional students require education in basics aspects of palliative care, including how to work collaboratively on an interprofessional team.

Objectives: An educational program was created, implemented, and evaluated with students in medicine, nursing, chaplaincy, and social work. Five learning objectives emphasized spiritual, cultural, and interprofessional aspects of palliative care.

Design: The program blended two sequential components: an online interactive, case-based learning module, and a live, dynamic simulation workshop.

Measurements: Content analysis was used to analyze students' free-text responses to four reflections in the online case, as well as open-ended questions on students' postworkshop questionnaires, which were also analyzed quantitatively.

Results: Analysis of 217 students' free-text responses indicated that students of all professions recognized important issues beyond their own discipline, the roles of other professionals, and the value of team collaboration. Quantitative analysis of 309 questionnaires indicated that students of all professions perceived that the program met its five learning objectives (mean response values>4 on a 5-point Likert scale), and highly rated the program and its two components for both educational quality and usefulness for future professional work (mean response values approximately>4).

Conclusions: This innovative interprofessional educational program combines online learning with live interactive simulation to teach professionally diverse students spiritual, cultural, and interprofessional aspects of palliative care. Despite the challenge of balanced professional representation, this innovative interprofessional educational program met its learning objectives, and may be transferable for use in other educational settings.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Computer Simulation
  • Computer-Assisted Instruction / methods
  • Cultural Competency / education*
  • Education, Medical
  • Education, Nursing
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Interdisciplinary Studies
  • Interprofessional Relations*
  • Male
  • Palliative Care / methods*
  • Pastoral Care / education
  • Program Evaluation
  • Social Work / education
  • Spirituality*
  • Students, Health Occupations*