Palliative care communication curriculum: What can students learn from an unfolding case?


Limited attention to palliative care communication training is offered to medical students. In this work, we pursued unfolding case responses and what they indicated about student tendencies to use palliative care communication as well as what medical students can learn from their own reflective practice about palliative care. Findings showed an overwhelming trend for students to avoid palliative care communication or inclusion of topics including advance directives, place of care, family support, and dying. Instead, students relied heavily on the SPIKES protocol, communication that was strategically vague and ambiguous, and discussions that centered on specialty care and referral. In reflecting on their own case study responses, students noted an absence of direct communication about prognosis, no coordination of care, late hospice entry, and patient pain resulting from communication inefficacies. Future research should focus on the development of formal and adaptive curriculum structures to address these communication needs. © The Author(s) 2011.

Publication Title

American Journal of Hospice and Palliative Medicine