Palliative Care Training Program Gains Wide Acceptance

Training physicians in end-of-life care

From 1997 to 2000, staff from the American Medical Association (AMA), Chicago, developed and disseminated Education on Palliative and End-of-Life Care (EPEC), a comprehensive training program to educate physicians on the clinical competencies required to provide quality, compassionate care to the dying patient.

In 2000, the project transferred to Northwestern University School of Medicine, Evanston, Ill., where it continued until 2003.

In 2000 and 2001, the Sutton Group, Washington, conducted an assessment of the program, which helped inform a strategic plan for its future expansion.

Key Results

  • The project accomplished the following:

    • With assistance from the advisory group, project staff created the EPEC curriculum.
    • As of June 2003, some 1,500 physicians and other health care professionals had undergone project training to offer the EPEC curriculum. Those EPEC trainers have reached some 300,000 health care professionals with EPEC training sessions, based on evaluation estimates.
    • A number of medical and other groups have adapted the EPEC material for their constituencies, including Roman Catholics, critical care pulmonologists, African-Americans, nurses and geriatricians.

Assessment

  • The Sutton report to the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) and EPEC staff concluded that:

    • EPEC had succeeded in building a core of committed, enthusiastic trainers.
    • Those surveyed for the evaluation said they viewed the EPEC materials, the trainings and the faculty team that trained the trainers as "excellent, cutting edge and standard setting."
    • Trainers were reaching large numbers of nonphysicians; physicians were more difficult to reach.