Background: The provision of palliative care (PC) for individuals with a life-threatening condition is fundamental to the role of the physician, in order to improve quality of life; however, little research has assessed the competence of the physicians in PC in Saudi Arabia.
Aim: To conduct a baseline assessment of self-assessed palliative care competences among medical physicians in Saudi Arabia.
Design: A survey-based cross-sectional study was employed using a specifically designed questionnaire.
Setting: The participants in the study were selected from 6 specialist medical departments (Family medicine, cardiology, internal medicine, pulmonary medicine, neurology and oncology) in 4 Saudi Arabian Hospitals, based on inclusion criteria.
Results: The study was conducted using a validated questionnaire used in Ireland to evaluate the competence skills of physicians for the provision of palliative care. All categories showed internal reliability and normal distribution of the data. However, the score of the knowledge, attitude and practice among the physicians was higher than the expected. The clinical specialty of the physicians demonstrated greater influence on knowledge, attitude and practice related to the palliative care compared to medical education. This highlighted the importance of training in palliative care to the medical doctors working in a range of specialist area.
Conclusion: The study provides baseline data on the level of competence of palliative care of physicians in Saudi Arabia. This study can be used as an assessment tool to further evaluate the effectiveness of palliative care in other areas as primary and secondary care settings.
Keywords: Saudi Arabia; competence; education; palliative care; training and development.