“It’s given me confidence”: A pragmatic qualitative evaluation exploring the perceived benefits of online end‐of‐life education on clinical care

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Background: Hospital admissions for end-of-life care are increasing exponentially across the world. Significant numbers of health professionals are now required to provide end-of-life care with minimal training. Many health professionals report they lack confidence to provide this care, particularly those in acute hospital settings. This study explored the perceived benefits of online education on health professionals’ capacity to provide end-of-life care. Methods: This qualitative study adopted a pragmatic approach. Thirty semi-structured interviews were conducted with allied health professionals, nurses and doctors who had completed a minimum of three End-of-Life Essentials online education modules. Interviews were held on line and face-to-face, audio-recorded and transcribed verbatim. Demographic data were also collected. Three major themes and one minor theme were constructed from the data using inductive thematic analysis. Results: Themes were (1). Perceptions of preparedness to provide end-of-life care, (2). Shifts in approaching end-of-life discussions and (3). Motivation for engagement with online modules. Participants reported validation of knowledge and improved confidence to have end-of-life discussions with patients, carers and team members. They also noted improved ability to recognise the dying process and improved conversations with team members about patient and carer needs. Videos portraying a novice and then more able end-of-life discussions were particularly valued by participants. Modules provided practical guidance on how to engage in discussions about the end of life and care needs. Participants were self-motivated to improve their knowledge and skills to enhance end-of-life care provision. Continuing professional development requirements were also a motivator for module completion. Conclusions: This study explored health professionals’ perspectives about the perceived benefits of online education modules on their clinical practice. Module completion enhanced participant confidence and self-reported improved competence in end-of-life care provision. Findings build on existing research that supports the valuable role online education plays in supporting confidence and ability to actively engage with patients, carers and colleagues about provision of end-of-life care; however, self-report cannot be used as a proxy for improved clinical competence.

Original languageEnglish
Article number57
Number of pages11
JournalBMC Palliative Care
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 13 Apr 2021


  • Allied health professional
  • End‐of‐life care
  • Nurses
  • Online education
  • Physicians
  • Self confidence
  • Terminal care


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