Death Education for Palliative Psychology: The Impact of a Death Education Course for Italian University Students

Lucia Ronconi, Gianmarco Biancalani, Georgiana Alexandra Medesi, Hod Orkibi, Ines Testoni

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The present study investigated the effects of a hybrid online course on a group of Italian Master’s degree students involved in a European Erasmus+ project. The course was composed of nine modules about death education, palliative psychology and the use of creative arts therapies—such as psychodrama, intermodal psychodrama and photovoice—in the end-of-life-field. The project involved 64 students in the experimental group (who attended the course) and 56 students as the control group. Both groups completed an online questionnaire before and after the delivery of the course and 10 students from the experimental group participated in a focus group at the end of the course. The quantitative analysis revealed that the experimental group students showed lesser levels of perception of death as annihilation, fear of the death and death avoidance, while they increased their levels of death acceptance, creative self-efficacy and attitude toward the care of the dying. Qualitative analysis identified three main themes: the positive impact of the course on death education and end-of-life care; the role of art therapies on death and end-of-life care; and the unhelpful facets of the course. Overall, this intervention changed the perception and the feelings of the students regarding the themes of death and palliative psychology and increased their creative self-efficacy and their interest in working in an end-of-life field.

Original languageEnglish
Article number182
JournalBehavioral Sciences
Issue number2
StatePublished - 16 Feb 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 by the authors.


  • death education
  • palliative psychology
  • photovoice
  • psychodrama
  • university students

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Psychology
  • Development
  • Genetics
  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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