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Evaluating End-of-Life Care Education Within Nursing Programs

A Method for Targeted Curriculum Evaluation

Lippe, Megan PhD, MSN, RN; Volker, Deborah PhD, RN, AOCN, FAAN; Jones, Terry PhD, RN; Carter, Patricia PhD, RN, CNS

Journal of Hospice & Palliative Nursing: June 2017 - Volume 19 - Issue 3 - p 266–274
doi: 10.1097/NJH.0000000000000341
Feature Articles

Many nurses report feeling ill prepared through their formal education to competently care for dying patients and their families. These deficits signal a need for curricular reform; however, current practices in the provision of palliative and end-of-life (EOL) care education must first be systematically evaluated to guide these reforms. This article will share the findings of a pilot study in which the context, input, process, and product evaluation model was used to guide a detailed evaluation of palliative and EOL care education within a baccalaureate nursing program. Critical aspects of palliative and EOL care education were identified from a decomposition of the End-of-Life Nursing Education Consortium (ELNEC) core curriculum. From the decomposition, a new instrument was developed and completed by nursing faculty members teaching in 1 baccalaureate program. Faculty members identified the ELNEC topics that were taught, the courses within which the content was provided, and the associated teaching methods used. Overall, 95.3% of ELNEC core curriculum content was included in the program; however, great interinstructor variability was noted. Clinical conference discussion/debriefing and lecture were most frequently used to teach ELNEC content. The content was addressed throughout the curriculum, particularly in ethics and aging didactic courses. Implications of the findings for future educational research are discussed.

Megan Lippe, PhD, MSN, RN, is assistant professor, Capstone College of Nursing, University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa.

Deborah Volker, PhD, RN, AOCN, FAAN, is associate professor, School of Nursing, University of Texas, Austin.

Terry Jones, PhD, RN, is assistant professor, School of Nursing, University of Texas, Austin.

Patricia Carter, PhD, RN, CNS, is associate professor, School of Nursing, University of Texas, Austin.

Address correspondence to Megan Lippe, PhD, MSN, RN, Capstone College of Nursing, 650 University Blvd East, Tuscaloosa, AL 35401 (

The first author was affiliated with the University of Texas at Austin School of Nursing at the time the study was conducted.

The authors have no conflicts of interest to disclose.

© 2017 by The Hospice and Palliative Nurses Association.