Palliative care (PC) is an essential part of the healthcare system, aiming to improve the quality of life of terminally ill patients and their families through prevention, relief of suffering, and providing psychosocial and spiritual support. To achieve high-quality PC, medical education should encompass PC training, including knowledge of PC, and skills and attitudes towards PC, at the undergraduate level. The aim of this study is to identify PC knowledge and experience among undergraduate medical and nursing students at Sultan Qaboos University (SQU), a government university in Oman. A validated questionnaire that measures knowledge and experiences of PC was administered to all final year medical and nursing students (N = 196) at SQU. The majority of the students (93.4%) were aware of the term PC, but most of them (68.9%) did not have any experience of PC. Around half of the students (54.9%) had a vague notion of how to implement PC, and only 41.3% felt confident in providing PC for terminally ill patients. Less than half of the students (44.8%) were aware that the patient’s family should be included in PC, as well as the patient. The majority of students (71.3%) thought that PC should be included in the undergraduate teaching curriculum, though few students (17.9%) knew that PC is currently a specialized medical unit (sub-department) in Oman. Most of the students (73.0%) thought that terminally ill patients have the right to choose “do not resuscitate,” but few students agreed that patients should be able to request a lethal dose (24.0%) or consent to a physician-assisted suicide (35.7%). Most of the students (84.7%) believed that special psychological support should be provided for doctors and nurses working in PC. Bivariate analysis showed no significance in the knowledge of applied PC in relation to which of the colleges the students were from (p = 0.283) or gender of the students (p = 0.068). Despite the fact that SQU students had favorable attitudes towards PC, they have insufficient knowledge and lack of experience. As the number of geriatric and terminal cancer patients increases across Oman, there is a need for the healthcare system to provide high-quality and effective PC services. Thus, there is an urgent need to integrate PC teaching courses as part of the undergraduate medical education for medical and nursing students.
- Medical and nursing
- Palliative care
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health