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Preparing professionals for family conferences in palliative care: Evaluation results of an interdisciplinary approach.

Research output: Contribution to Journal/MagazineJournal articlepeer-review

<mark>Journal publication date</mark>1/08/2005
<mark>Journal</mark>Journal of Palliative Medicine
Issue number4
Number of pages10
Pages (from-to)857-866
Publication StatusPublished
<mark>Original language</mark>English


Background: Patients, families, and health care professionals recognize the need for better communication in palliative and end-of-life care. Family conferences are a powerful clinical tool for communicating with patients and family members. Although family conferences are often used in medical care, few clinicians are prepared to conduct them effectively. An innovative palliative care educational model that included specific attention to family conferences was developed and evaluated. To intervene early in the process of professional socialization, the interactive and interdisciplinary training included medical and social work students. Method: A quasi-experimental longitudinal design was employed to evaluate the educational intervention. Survey measures were administered before, immediately after, and three months after training. Questions addressed experience, education, and attitudes about family conferences. A standardized scale was used to measure change in students' confidence in their ability to lead family conferences. Results: For both professions, the intervention group demonstrated a significant increase in confidence in the ability to lead family conferences compared with the control group. Threemonth follow-up data suggested that subjects in the intervention group maintained these gains. Conclusion: This pilot intervention showed that an interdisciplinary educational approach improves confidence in the ability to lead family conferences when students are exposed early in the process of professional socialization. Early intervention increases the propensity and skills needed to conduct family conferences and advances communication in palliative care. Future research on interdisciplinary education should evaluate effects on clinical practice behaviors, satisfaction with communication and collaboration, and patients' and families' perceptions of quality of care.