Death education for Palliative care: a european project for University students

Ines Testoni, Lucia Ronconi, Hod Orkibi, Gianmarco Biancalani, Melania Raccichini, Luca Franchini, Shoshi Keisari, Mihaela Bucuta, Krzysztof Cieplinski, Michael Wieser, Silvia Varani

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: The need to spread the culture of palliative care and to train health care professionals from undergraduate courses is recognised internationally. The article presents the outcomes of a project devoted to palliative care training in university courses in four countries. Aims: This article considered the outcomes of a course designed for university students who had the potential to work in a palliative care team. The main aim was to check the efficacy of the course and the motivation to work in palliative care settings, considering the impact of fear and representations of death. Methods: The project presented the essential contents related to palliative care, using psychodramatic and photo-voice techniques. Longitudinal measurements were taken using a quantitative method design to detect changes among the students involved. The project involved 341 students at the first administration of the survey consisted of a protocol composed of standardized questionnaires in five countries (Austria, Israel, Italy, Poland and Romania), of whom 276 completed the pre- and post-surveys—165 of them in the experimental group and 111, in the control group. Results: The experience showed that it is possible to address death-related issues seriously and competently without necessarily causing discomfort and despondency in students. The results of the changes over time in the experimental and control groups highlight how the view of death as annihilation is correlated with the fear of death and the need for avoidance of thoughts concerning dying. The main result is that competence in palliative care facilitates familiarisation with issues of death and dying, as well as the ability to work in this area, thereby enhancing interpersonal skills. Conclusion: The project showed that it is possible to implement death education on palliative care topics in undergraduate courses to increase motivation to work in this field.

Original languageEnglish
Article number47
JournalBMC Palliative Care
Issue number1
StatePublished - 21 Apr 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023, The Author(s).


  • Creative self efficacy
  • Death competence
  • Palliative care career commitment
  • Palliative psychology
  • University death education

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine


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