Improving quality in hospital end-of-life care: honest communication, compassion and empathy.

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Background With over half of expected deaths occurring in acute hospitals, and a workforce not trained to care for them, good quality end-of-life care in these settings is hard to achieve. The National Consensus Statement on Essential Elements for Safe and High-Quality End-of-Life Care has been translated into e-learning modules by the End of Life Essentials project, and this study aims to demonstrate how clinicians interpret the Consensus Statement in their day-to-day practice by answering the question at the end of each module: Tomorrow, the one thing I can change to more appropriately provide end-of-life care is...' Methods The modules were developed by a palliative care educator with the support of a peer review group and were piloted with 35 health professionals. Pre-post module evaluation data were collected and during a 10-month period from 2016 to 2017 a total of 5181 individuals registered for the project accessing one or more of the six modules. The data from 3201 free-text responses to the post hoc practice change question have been analysed, and themes generated. Findings Five themes are derived from the data: communication, emotional insight, professional mindset, person-centred care and professional practice. Conclusion Learners who have completed End of Life Essentials have shared the ways they state they can change their practice tomorrow which may well be appreciated as a clinical response to the work by the Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care in leading and coordinating national improvements in quality and safety in healthcare in Australia. While intent cannot guarantee practice change, theory on intention - behaviour relations indicate that intentions have a strong association with behaviour. This indicates that the modules have the ability to influence end-of-life care in acute hospitals.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere000669
Number of pages11
JournalBMJ Open Quality
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 31 May 2019

Bibliographical note

© Author(s) (or their employer(s)) 2019. This is an open access article distributed in accordance with the Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial (CC BY-NC 4.0) license, which permits others to distribute, remix, adapt, build upon this work non-commercially, and license their derivative works on different terms, provided the original work is properly cited, appropriate credit is given, any changes made indicated, and the use is non-commercial. See:


  • end-of-life
  • intent-to-change practice
  • practice change


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