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Educating Nurses for Palliative Care: A Scoping Review

Pesut, Barbara PhD, RN; Sawatzky, Richard PhD, RN; Stajduhar, Kelli I. PhD, RN; McLeod, Barbara MSN, RN; Erbacker, Lynnelle BSN, RN; Chan, Eric K. H. PhD

Journal of Hospice & Palliative Nursing: February 2014 - Volume 16 - Issue 1 - p 47–54
doi: 10.1097/NJH.0000000000000021
Feature Articles

An aging population requires that nurses in all areas of practice be knowledgeable about high-quality palliative care. The purpose of this scoping review was to summarize the available evidence for providing palliative care education for nurses. Searches were conducted in the spring of 2012 of 5 electronic databases using controlled vocabulary. English-language articles published between 2001 and 2011 were included in the review, yielding a sample of 58 studies. Findings reviewed included country and setting of study; palliative knowledge taught; methods, number of hours, and duration of education; study design; and evaluation methods. Eighty-six percent of studies reported positive outcomes. Effect size calculations for 9 outcome measures resulted in large (n = 1), moderate (n = 4), and small (n = 4) effects in a positive direction. However, effect sizes were heterogeneous, suggesting moderator variables. Although there appears to be an overall positive effect of palliative education, findings from this scoping review illustrate the diversity of educational approaches and lack of rigorous study designs, making it difficult to make recommendations for an evidence-based approach to educating nurses in palliative care.

Barbara Pesut, PhD, RN, is associate professor, Canada Research Chair, Health, Ethics and Diversity, School of Nursing, University of British Columbia, Okanagan Campus, Kelowna, Canada.

Richard Sawatzky, PhD, RN, is associate professor, School of Nursing, Trinity Western University, Langley; and Centre for Health Evaluation and Outcome Sciences, Providence Health Care, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.

Kelli I. Stajduhar, PhD, RN, is associate professor, School of Nursing and Centre on Aging, University of Victoria, British Columbia, Canada.

Barbara McLeod, MSN, RN, is clinical nurse specialist, Fraser Health, Surrey, British Columbia, Canada.

Lynnelle Erbacker, BSN, RN, is clinical assistant, School of Nursing, University of British Columbia, Okanagan Campus, Kelowna, Canada.

Eric K. H. Chan, PhD, is research associate, School of Nursing, Trinity Western University, Langley, British Columbia, Canada.

Address correspondence to Barbara Pesut, PhD, RN, Health, Ethics and Diversity, School of Nursing AS 287, 3333 University Way, Kelowna, BC, Canada V1V 1V7 (

The authors have no conflicts of interest to disclose.

This work was supported by the generous funding from the Michael Smith Foundation Nursing Research Initiative (# PJ-NIT-00001[10-1]) and the Canada Research Chair’s program.

© 2014 by The Hospice and Palliative Nurses Association.