Education Needs Assessment


Objectives of the Education Needs Assessment

The ENA project aimed to determine the confidence levels and perceived training needs of healthcare professionals, in various patient management topics, in efforts to identify training gaps in palliative care in Singapore. The surveyed population included doctors, nurses, psychosocial professionals and pharmacists. Although the surveys were completed anonymously, we gathered data to get a snapshot regarding the palliative care training respondents had previously received, their specialty and their current practice setting. We also conducted key interviews with palliative care experts to determine the most effective ways to bridge the knowledge and skill gaps identified from the survey.


Highlights of Results of Education Needs Assessment

We conducted a survey and key interviews of palliative care experts. Our survey sample consisted of 216 doctors, 1139 nurses, 89 psychosocial professionals and 46 pharmacists. We found that non-specialists had the greatest training need. Most respondents were not trained in palliative care during the course of their basic education, and so may lack some of the necessary skills to care for and treat patients suffering from life-limiting conditions. The main patient management topics where nurses and doctors reported a lack confidence were in the psychosocial areas (such as managing psycho-emotional distress). Nurses were also concerned about pain and delirium management. 


The respondents preferred training modes that were interactive, administered in small groups and conducted in the workplace setting. Examples of such training modes include clinical attachments and on-the-job training. When respondents were asked to select the times of day they preferred to receive training, no clear time preference was evident from the survey results. Most respondents preferred blended learning, which is a combination of face-to-face instruction and online learning.


There was broad agreement between key interviewees on the palliative care knowledge and skills healthcare professionals should possess. The experts identified many barriers and enablers to palliative care training. These include limited exposure of healthcare professionals to palliative care in basic training, the lack of a standardized curriculum and an aversion to sharing information (“silo mentality”), and difficulties experienced by smaller institutions in developing capacity and ensuring skills learnt are applied in practice.


Report of a National Education Needs Assessment of Healthcare Professionals for Palliative Care in Singapore