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01-02-2015 | Original Article | Uitgave 1/2015 Open Access

Perspectives on Medical Education 1/2015

Paediatric trainees and end-of-life care: a needs assessment for a formal educational intervention

Perspectives on Medical Education > Uitgave 1/2015
MD Bonnie H Arzuaga, MD Leslie Caldarelli
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Electronic supplementary material

The online version of this chapter (doi: 10.​1007/​s40037-015-0161-4) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.



Literature suggests a paucity of formal training in end-of-life care in contemporary American medical education. Similar to trainees in adult medicine, paediatric trainees are frequently involved in end-of-life cases.


To determine current experience and comfort levels among paediatric trainees when caring for dying patients with the hypothesis that more clinical experience alone would not improve comfort.


Paediatric residents, subspeciality fellows and programme directors at the University of Chicago completed a voluntary electronic needs assessment in June and July 2013. Ten question pairs determined frequency of experiencing various aspects of end-of-life care in clinical practice and comfort levels during these encounters.


118 respondents participated (63.8 % response rate): 66.4 % were female; 53 % had previous education in end-of-life care. The proportion of those with experience in end-of-life care increased through the third year of training, and remained at 1.0 thereafter. Conversely, positive comfort scores increased gradually throughout all six years of training to a maximum proportion of 0.45. Comfort in many specific aspects of care lagged behind experience. Previous education had a significant positive effect on comfort levels of most, but not all, aspects of care. 58 % or more of trainees desired further education on specific end-of-life topics.


Paediatric trainees are often involved in end-of-life care but may not be comfortable in this role. More experience alone does not improve comfort levels; however, there is a positive correlation with comfort and previous education. Trainees had a strong interest in further education on a variety of end-of-life care topics.
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