Survey Finds Medical Students Want to Provide Appropriate End-of-Life Care But Need Training to Do So

Survey on palliative care in medical education

A team led by researchers at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston surveyed more than 2,000 students and staff at 62 U.S. medical schools to assess the availability and quality of instruction in end-of-life care.

The team also analyzed medical students' competency in end-of-life care as measured by responses to selected items on the United States Medical Licensing Examination®.

Key Findings

  • More than 90 percent of respondents had positive views about the responsibility of physicians to help patients at the end of life prepare for death.

  • However, fewer than 18 percent of students and residents reported receiving formal end-of-life care education.

  • Thirty-nine percent of students and 31 percent of residents felt unprepared to address patients' fears about death and dying.