Postgraduate palliative care education: Evaluation of a South African programme
Aim. We aimed to assess the postgraduate palliative care distance education programme of the University of Cape Town (UCT) in terms of its perceived ability to influence palliative care delivery. Methods. A mixed-methods approach, consisting of two surveys using open-ended and multiple-choice options, was conducted from January to December 2007 at the UCT School of Public Health and Family Medicine. All students registered in the programme from 2000 - 2007 were invited to participate; 83 (66.4% of all eligible participants) completed the general survey, and 41 (65.7%) of the programme’s graduates completed the graduate survey. The survey scores and open-ended data were triangulated to evaluate UCT’s palliative care postgraduate programme. Results. General survey scores of graduates were significantly higher in 5 of the 6 categories in comparison with current students. The graduate survey indicated that curriculum and teaching strengths were in communication and dealing with challenging encounters. Graduates also stressed the need to develop a curriculum that incorporated a practical component. Conclusions. In addition to current postgraduate training, palliative care education in South Africa should be extended to undergraduate medical students, as the benefits of UCT’s programme were limited to a small cohort of practitioners.