University of Oulu

Suikkala, A., Tohmola, A., Rahko, E.K. et al. Future palliative competence needs – a qualitative study of physicians’ and registered nurses’ views. BMC Med Educ 21, 585 (2021).

Future palliative competence needs : a qualitative study of physicians’ and registered nurses’ views

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Author: Suikkala, Arja1; Tohmola, Anniina2; Rahko, Eeva K.3;
Organizations: 1Diaconia University of Applied Sciences, Kyläsaarenkuja 2, FI- 00580, Helsinki, Finland
2Lapland University of Applied Sciences, Kemi, Finland
3Department of Clinical Oncology, Oulu University Hospital, Oulu, Finland
4Kajaani University Applied Sciences, Kajaani, Finland
Format: article
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 0.6 MB)
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Language: English
Published: Springer Nature, 2021
Publish Date: 2022-02-07


Background: Globally, the need for palliative care will increase as a result of the ageing of populations and the rising burden of cancer, non-communicable diseases as well as some communicable diseases. Physicians and registered nurses working in palliative care should have a sufficient level of education and competence in managing the changing needs and requirements of palliative care. There is, however, need for evidence-based palliative care training and education of physicians and registered nurses. The purpose of this study was to describe the views of physicians and registered nurses regarding future competence needs within palliative care.

Methods: The study was conducted through use of a cross-sectional qualitative design. A total of 54 physicians and 110 registered nurses completed an open-ended questionnaire about the future competence needs of palliative care. The data were analyzed using inductive content analysis.

Results: The results revealed four main competence needs within palliative care for the coming decade: palliative care competence at all levels within healthcare and social welfare services; individualized palliative care competence; person-centered encounters competence; and systematic competence development within palliative care.

Conclusions: The results offer cues for education and professional development, which can be used to support physicians and registered nurses when future palliative care competences are included in educational programs. Seamless cooperation between palliative care services and educational institutions is recommended to ensure that undergraduate and postgraduate education is based on a continuous assessment of competence requirements within the field of palliative care. Therefore, online multi-professional simulations, for example, could be used to enhance future competencies within palliative care; undergraduate medical, nursing and allied healthcare students as well as postgraduate palliative care professionals and experts of experience could work together during simulations.

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Series: BMC medical education
ISSN: 1472-6920
ISSN-E: 1472-6920
ISSN-L: 1472-6920
Volume: 21
Issue: 1
Article number: 585
DOI: 10.1186/s12909-021-02949-5
Type of Publication: A1 Journal article – refereed
Field of Science: 316 Nursing
Funding: This research was part of the project titled Developing Palliative Nursing and Medical Education through Multi-disciplinary Cooperation and Working Life Collaboration, funded by the Finnish Ministry of Education and Culture (Decision 29.3.2018 OKM/258/523/2017). The content of this article reflects the views of the project group members. The project funder had no role in designing the study or writing the article and is not liable for any use that may be made of the information contained herein.
Copyright information: © The Author(s). 2021. This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons licence, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article's Creative Commons licence, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article's Creative Commons licence and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this licence, visit The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver ( applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated in a credit line to the data.