Medical student confidence to care for a dying patient and their family: a systematic review

Wells, Geoffrey, Youssef, Elaney, Winter, Rebecca, Wright, Juliet and Llewellyn, Carrie (2020) Medical student confidence to care for a dying patient and their family: a systematic review. BMJ Supportive and Palliative Care. ISSN 2045-435X

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Background: The General Medical Council expects medical graduates to care for dying patients with skill, clinical judgement and compassion. UK surveys continually demonstrate low confidence and increasing distress amongst junior doctors when providing care to the dying.
Aim: This systematic review aims to determine what has been evidenced within worldwide literature regarding medical undergraduate confidence to care for dying patients.
Design: A systematic electronic search was undertaken. Data extraction included measurements of baseline confidence, associated assessment tools, and details of applied educational interventions. Pre/post-intervention confidence comparisons were made. Factors influencing confidence levels were explored. The review was prospectively registered via PROSPERO (CRD42019119057).
Data sources: MEDLINE, CINAHL, EMBASE, ISI Web of Science, ERIC, PsychINFO, British Education Index and Cochrane Review databases were accessed, with no restrictions on publication year. Eligible studies included the terms ‘medical student’, ‘confidence’, and ‘dying’, alongside appropriate MeSH headings. Study quality was assessed using the Mixed Methods Appraisal Tool.
Results: Fifteen eligible studies were included, demonstrating a diversity of assessment tools. Student confidence was low in provision of symptom management, family support, and psycho-spiritual support to dying patients. Eight interventional studies demonstrated increased post-interventional confidence. Lack of undergraduate exposure to dying patients and lack of structure within undergraduate palliative care curricula were cited as factors responsible for low confidence.
Conclusion: This review clarifies the objective documentation of medical undergraduate confidence to care for the dying. Identifying where teaching fails to prepare graduates for realities in clinical practice will help inform future undergraduate palliative care curriculum planning.

Item Type: Article
Schools and Departments: Brighton and Sussex Medical School > Division of Medical Education
Depositing User: Cherie Elody
Date Deposited: 22 Jan 2020 09:32
Last Modified: 22 Jan 2020 09:45

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