MANUSCRIPT: Can elearning be used to teach palliative care? – medical students’ acceptance, knowledge, and self-estimation of competence in palliative care after elearning
Undergraduate palliative care education (UPCE) was mandatorily incorporated in medical education in Germany in 2009. Implementation of the new cross-sectional examination subject of palliative care (QB13) continues to be a major challenge for medical schools. It is clear that there is a need among students for more UPCE. On the other hand, there is a lack of teaching resources and patient availabilities for the practical lessons. Digital media and elearning might be one solution to this problem. The primary objective of this study is to evaluate the elearning course Palliative Care Basics, with regard to students’ acceptance of this teaching method and their performance in the written examination on the topic of palliative care. In addition, students’ self-estimation in competence in palliative care was assessed.
To investigate students’ acceptance of the elearning course Palliative Care Basics, we conducted a cross-sectional study that is appropriate for proof-of-concept evaluation. The sample consisted of three cohorts of medical students of Heinrich Heine University Dusseldorf (N = 670). The acceptance of the elearning approach was investigated by means of the standard evaluation of Heinrich Heine University. The effect of elearning on students’ self-estimation in palliative care competencies was measured by means of the German revised version of the Program in Palliative Care Education and Practice Questionnaire (PCEP-GR).
The elearning course Palliative Care Basics was well-received by medical students. The data yielded no significant effects of the elearning course on students’ self-estimation in palliative care competencies. There was a trend of the elearning course having a positive effect on the mark in written exam.
Elearning is a promising approach in UPCE and well-accepted by medical students. It may be able to increase students’ knowledge in palliative care. However, it is likely that there are other approaches needed to change students’ self-estimation in palliative care competencies. It seems plausible that experience-based learning and encounters with dying patients and their relatives are required to increases students’ self-estimation in palliative care competencies.
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