University of Oulu

Hökkä, M., Lehto, J.T., Kyngäs, H. et al. Finnish nursing students’ perceptions of the development needs in palliative care education and factors influencing learning in undergraduate nursing studies – a qualitative study. BMC Palliat Care 21, 40 (2022).

Finnish nursing students’ perceptions of the development needs in palliative care education and factors influencing learning in undergraduate nursing studies : a qualitative study

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Author: Hökkä, Minna1,2; Lehto, Juho T.3,4; Kyngäs, Helvi1;
Organizations: 1Faculty of Medicine, Research Unit of Nursing Science and Health Management, University of Oulu, PO BOX 5000, 90014, Oulu, Finland
2Kajaani University of Applied Sciences, Kajaani, Finland
3Faculty of Medicine and Health Technology, Tampere University, Tampere, Finland
4Palliative Care Centre and Department of Oncology, Tampere University Hospital, Tampere, Finland
5Medical Research Center Oulu, Oulu University Hospital, Oulu, Finland
Format: article
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 1.2 MB)
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Language: English
Published: Springer Nature, 2022
Publish Date: 2022-06-21


Background: Nurses have an essential role in providing high-quality palliative care to patients and their families. Hence, they require adequate palliative care education. However, there is only limited insight into how final-year nursing students perceive palliative care education in undergraduate nursing programs. This study aimed to describe nursing students’ perspectives of the development needs of palliative care education. An additional two aims emerged based on the collected data, namely, to describe the preferred education for palliative care and the factors which promote or hinder palliative care learning during undergraduate nursing studies.

Methods: The research was guided by a descriptive qualitative approach and applied inductive content analysis. The frequencies (f) of identified codes (reduced expressions) were counted to show the noteworthiness of each category in relation to the entirety. The participants were final-year nursing students (n = 766) who had participated in a national survey.

Results: The inductive content analysis identified three unifying categories. The first was ‘Development needs and views of palliative care education’ (f = 524), which consisted of the main categories ‘the need to develop palliative care education’ (f = 414) and ‘meaning of palliative care and its education’ (f = 110). Secondly ‘Preferred types of palliative care education’ (f = 1379), including the main categories ‘teaching contents in palliative care education’ (f = 905), ‘teaching methods for palliative care learning’ (f = 393), and ‘placement of palliative care studies’ (f = 81). Thirdly ‘The facilitators and barriers to palliative care learning’ (f = 401), consisting of the main categories ‘factors facilitating palliative care learning’ (f = 66) and ‘barriers to palliative care learning’ (f = 335).

Conclusions: This study provides detailed information about nursing student’s perspectives of palliative care education and its development needs. Hence, the results are relevant to decision-makers who want to develop undergraduate nursing curricula. This study highlights that palliative care education should be developed by ensuring that all students have equal access to palliative care education provided by highly competent teachers. Possibilities for clinical placements or visits to palliative care units during the education should also be improved. The participating students felt unprepared to provide high-quality palliative care even though they responded that palliative care is an important topic in their nursing studies.

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Series: BMC palliative care
ISSN: 1472-684X
ISSN-E: 1472-684X
ISSN-L: 1472-684X
Volume: 21
Article number: 40
DOI: 10.1186/s12904-022-00915-6
Type of Publication: A1 Journal article – refereed
Field of Science: 316 Nursing
Funding: The data collection was funded by EduPal- project, which was funded by the Ministry of Education and Culture (Decision 29.3.2018 OKM/258/523/2017) in Finland. The writing of the manuscript and the open access fee was granted by Durchman foundation as a personal research grant for the first author.
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