Does interdisciplinary and multiprofessional undergraduate education increase students' self-confidence and knowledge toward palliative care? Evaluation of an undergraduate curriculum design for palliative care at a German academic hospital

J Palliat Med. 2015 Jun;18(6):513-9. doi: 10.1089/jpm.2014.0337. Epub 2015 Apr 7.


Background: Undergraduate palliative care education (UPCE) became mandatory in Germany by 2013. The training in Mainz, addressing fifth-year (5Y) medical students, emphasizes transfer of knowledge and skills. In this study we assessed students' knowledge and students' self-estimation of self-confidence in palliative care (PC) according to Bandura's concept of self-efficacy.

Objective: The study objective was to evaluate the effects of the Mainz UPCE on students' self-confidence regarding important domains in PC.

Methods: We conducted a prospective questionnaire-based cohort study with a pre-post design. 5Y medical students (n=329) were asked for self-estimation concerning knowledge, somatic aspects, spiritual and psychological aspects before and after a 7x90-minute teaching course. To assess knowledge, students completed a multiple choice examination at the end of the term.

Results: Overall, 156 students completed matched surveys at both points of measurement. The majority of these students felt more confident after the course than before in all aspects of PC (p<0.0001). All students passed the exam with average scores greater than 90%.

Conclusion: A 7x90-minute interactive tutorial in PC for 5Y medical students is feasible and improves both self-efficacy and knowledge of core PC issues. Whether the effects of the course are long-lasting is the objective for further research.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Curriculum*
  • Education, Medical, Undergraduate / organization & administration*
  • Educational Measurement
  • Female
  • Germany
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Palliative Medicine / education*
  • Self Efficacy
  • Surveys and Questionnaires