How do experienced professors teach Palliative Medicine in European Universities? A cross-case analysis of eight undergraduate educational programs
Background: In Europe in recent decades, university teaching of palliative medicine (PM) has evolved. In some countries it has been introduced as a compulsory subject in all medical schools, but in a majority of countries it remains an isolated subject at few universities. Objective: To explore how PM has been introduced into the curricula and how it is currently being taught at different European universities. Method: Case study method using face-to-face semistructured interviews with experienced PM professors, comparing how they have developed PM undergraduate programs at their universities. Results: An intentional sample of eight university professors from Spain, France, UK, Italy, Hungary, Sweden, Germany, and Poland was chosen. The introduction of PM in the universities depends on the existence of a favorable social and political context in relation to palliative care and the initiative of pioneers, trusted by students, to push this education forward. A PM curriculum frequently starts as an optional subject and becomes mandatory in a short period. In the reported universities, PM uses a wide variety of teaching methods, such as lectures, workshops, role-plays, and discussions. PM assessment included tests, discussions, reflections, portfolios, and research works. According to respondents' opinions, lack of recognition, funding, and accredited teachers, along with competition from other curricula, are the main barriers for palliative medicine teaching development at universities. Conclusion: Diverse paths and tools have been identified for PM teaching in Europe. The described cases may shed light on other medical schools to develop PM curricula.