Online learning in palliative care: A review

On 17 October, a new, free online palliative care course will launch. Register now!

Dr Sean Hughes, Dr Nancy Preston, Dr Sandra Varey and Prof Sheila Payne, International Observatory on End of Life Care, Lancaster University, UK, tell us more in this background post to their longer article published in the September/October edition of the European Journal of Palliative Care.


Left to right: Dr Nancy Preston, Dr Sandra Varey, Dr Sean Hughes and Prof Sheila Payne

The Internet age provides great learning opportunities in all manner of topic areas and palliative care is no exception. But what is the current state of play and how do we measure impact? What kinds of courses or modes of delivery are available, and is online learning effective at improving professional practice?

InSup-C – a European Union-funded project examining integrated palliative care in advanced cancer and chronic disease – aimed to use online learning to highlight good practice and disseminate study results. Our first step was to scope the literature to establish the options available and to develop our plans.

We found an expanding and fast-paced field with a bewildering range of educational approaches. Some of these were blended online tuition with classroom teaching in standard college or university degrees. Others were stand-alone units or short modules with no teacher or tutor input. There were many examples of these in the palliative and end-of-life care field. These included the well-known e-ELCA (e-learning programme End of Life Care for All) managed by Health Education England in partnership with the Association for Palliative Medicine of Great Britain and Ireland (APM), and others such as LearnZone provided by Macmillan Cancer Support.

Most online learning aimed at professionals did not evaluate how effective the learning had been in enhancing practice. Despite this, research suggests that it is no longer a question of if online training of health professionals should be pursued but how and when these learning techniques should be used.1

The findings from our review helped the InSup-C team to think about how we might best use our results and which audience(s) to target. Our first thought was to design an e-learning module aimed at health professionals across Europe, but we knew that we would not be able to update and moderate this beyond the end of the project in late 2016, and that access to others would be limited. Then came the MOOC – a ‘massive open online course’!

Our MOOC, Palliative Care: Making it Work (hosted by Lancaster University), will run from 17 October 2016 for three weeks. It is free and open to all with an interest in palliative and end-of-life care. It contains materials and resources: short lectures; reading; video clips of model practice in integrated care from the study sites around Europe; discussion and debating opportunities . . . and much more. So far, almost four thousand people have registered representing every continent and ensuring that the results and recommendations from InSup-C have a global reach.

Please join us – register here! Our review findings are reported in more detail in the current edition of the European Journal of Palliative Care.

Cook DA, Levinson AJ, Garside S et al. Internet-based learning in the health professions: a meta-analysis. JAMA 2008; 300: 1181–1196.

coverRead the full article in the European Journal of Palliative Care
This post relates to a longer article, Online learning in palliative care: where are we up to? by Sean Hughes, Nancy J Preston, Sheila A Payne, published in the September/October 2016 edition of the European Journal of Palliative Care (vol. 23.5). If you have a web-based subscription to the journal you’ll be able to download this issue, plus all articles in the journal archive.

You can also browse the archive and download articles by taking a 10-minute or 30-minute subscription. Members of the EAPC receive discounted subscription rates to the journal – click here to subscribe online.

Read more posts from members of InSup-C on the EAPC Blog

You can also read about the e-ELCA e-learning opportunity in Prof Christina Faull’s earlier post on the EAPC Blog.

This entry was posted in EAPC COLLABORATIVE PROJECTS, EAPC-LINKED JOURNALS, EDUCATION & TRAINING, European Journal of Palliative Care, InSup-C (integrated palliative care) and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Online learning in palliative care: A review

  1. usha selvaraj says:

    I want register for this online learning

    • pallcare says:

      Usha, Thank you for your comment. It is very easy to register for the online learning tool. Just read the post until the end and you will find a link that asks you to ‘register here’. Regards Social Media Team

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