As the demand for palliative care increases, the World Health Organization has called for teaching on the subject to be made routine for medical students. The electronic International Medical Education in Palliative Care (IMEP-e) assessment, which includes details on training hours in palliative care and self-efficacy and personal expectation scales, may be an effective digital tool for obtaining data regarding students’ preparedness in practicing palliative care, study results published in the BMC Palliative Care report.
In this multiphase pilot study, researchers in the United Kingdom used convenience sampling on undergraduate medical students who had (Y5) and had not (Y3) received training in palliative care. Students in the Y5 group who responded positively to the IMEP-e assessment tool participated in a focus group intended to assess the utility of the tool, as well as evaluate the impact of palliative care undergraduate training.
The IMEP-e tool uses information on the number of training hours students received in palliative care, as well as perceived support during this training. Also, the 23-item Self-Efficacy Palliative Care Scale (SEPCs), which evaluates how clinicians handle situations in a palliative care environment, is integrated into the electronic tool. The SEPC includes subscales for communication skills (Comm), multidisciplinary teams (MDT), and pain and symptoms management. A 7-point Likert thanatophobia scale (TS), which investigates the expected personal outcomes across many situations in palliative care, is also included in the tool.
A total of 280 questionnaires were sent to participants in the years 3 (Y3) group and 80 questionnaires were sent to students in the year 5 (Y5) group. According to the data completed by 125 participants, students in the Y3 group reported lower confidence in the Comm subscale vs students in the Y5 group (SEPC score, 23.51 vs 47.50, respectively; t, 13.52; P =.001). There were also differences between the Y3 and Y5 groups in self-reported mean SEPC patient management score (28.71 vs 54.98, respectively, t, -14.25; P =.001).
Y3 students also reported lower confidence in MDT based on their mean SEPC scores (29.12 vs 54.01; t, -7.89; P =.001). Both the Y3 and Y5 groups reported generally positive attitudes in their views of practicing palliative care. According to the TS, there were increased positive attitudes toward palliative care (z = −2.85; P <.005).
Study limitations included the low response rate, including the fact that most responders were female.
Based on their findings, the researchers suggest that future national and international translations of the IMEP-e “may promote collaborative learning and drive the development and adoption of best practice in preparing tomorrow’s doctors.”
Rai A, Mason S. The developing and evaluation of an electronic tool to assess the effect of undergraduate training in palliative care: the electronic international medical education in palliative care (IMEP-e) assessment tool. BMC Palliat Care. 2019;18(1):76.