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Simulation training in palliative care: state of the art and future directions

Authors Kozhevnikov D, Morrison LJ, Ellman MS

Received 1 August 2018

Accepted for publication 26 October 2018

Published 7 December 2018 Volume 2018:9 Pages 915—924


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single anonymous peer review

Peer reviewer comments 3

Editor who approved publication: Dr Md Anwarul Majumder

Video abstract presented by Dmitry Kozhevnikov.

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Dmitry Kozhevnikov,1 Laura J Morrison,1 Matthew S Ellman2

1Department of Medicine, Yale Palliative Care Program, Yale School of Medicine, New Haven, CT, USA; 2Department of Medicine, Yale School of Medicine, New Haven, CT, USA

Background: The growing need for palliative care (PC) among patients with serious illness is outstripped by the short supply of PC specialists. This mismatch calls for competency of all health care providers in primary PC, including patient-centered communication, management of pain and other symptoms, and interprofessional teamwork. Simulation-based medical education (SBME) has emerged as a promising modality to teach key skills and close the educational gap. This paper describes the current state of SBME in training of PC skills.
Methods: We conducted a systematic review of the literature reporting on simulation experiences addressing PC skills for clinical learners in medicine and nursing. We collected data on learner characteristics, the method and content of the simulation, and outcome assessments.
Results: In a total of 78 studies, 76% involved learners from medicine and 38% involved learners from nursing, while social work (6%) and spiritual care (3%) learners were significantly underrepresented. Only 16% of studies involved collaboration between participants at different training levels. The standardized patient encounter was the most popular simulation method, accounting for 68% of all studies. Eliciting treatment preferences (50%), delivering bad news (41%), and providing empathic communication (40%) were the most commonly addressed skills, while symptom management was only addressed in 13% of studies. The most common method of simulation evaluation was subjective participant feedback (62%). Only 4% of studies examined patient outcomes. In 22% of studies, simulation outcomes were not measured at all.
Discussion: We describe the current state of SBME in PC education, highlighting advances over recent decades and identifying gaps and opportunities for future directions. We recommend designing SBME for a broader range of learners and for interprofessional skill building. We advocate for expansion of skill content, especially symptom management education. Finally, evaluation of SBME in PC training should be more rigorous with a shift to include more patient outcomes.

Keywords: simulation training, palliative care, palliative medicine, standardized patient, structured clinical examination, medical education

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