Developing palliative care skills in undergraduate allied health students using an interprofessional simulation-based learning experience




simulation, simulation-based learning, interprofessional, students palliative care, end of life


Introduction: There is a growing need to prepare the health workforce to work collaboratively to meet the needs of people affected by life-limiting illness. Despite the call from industry for the inclusion of palliative care in undergraduate curriculum, there are few established methods to deliver this education for interprofessional student cohorts. Where clinical experience options are limited, the simulation-based learning experience (SBLE) offers a valuable experiential learning opportunity in the preparation of students to care for dying patients and their families. This research aims to examine the impact of SBLE on the level of allied health students' confidence in delivering palliative care.

Methods: A quasi-experimental, pre-test/post-test design was used with 11-point rating scales to measure the change in levels of self-reported confidence in knowledge, providing care, preparedness, management and assessment of need, and professional and ethical practice among allied health students who participated in either a face-to-face or an online palliative care SBLE.

Results: A total of 130 students participated in the SBLE in 2019 and 2020. A paired-sample t-test showed improvement post simulation, with mean differences ranging from 2.87 [95% CI 2.45–3.29] for knowledge to 3.2 [95% CI 2.79–3.60] for confidence. All categories were statistically significant (p < .05). Analysis of opened-ended questions indicated that after the simulation, students recognised the importance of a holistic focus and patient-centred care model.

Conclusions: The SBLE improved levels of student perceived confidence for the delivery of palliative care. Educators are encouraged to use SBLE to support the development of graduate capabilities in palliative care in allied health students.


Bandura, A. (2006). Guide for constructing self-efficacy scales. In F. Pajares & T. Urdan (Eds.), Self-efficacy beliefs of adolescents (Vol. 5, pp. 307–337). Information Age Publishing.

Chiarelli, P. E., Johnston, C., & Osmotherly, P. G. (2014). Introducing palliative care into entry-level physical therapy education. Journal of Palliative Medicine, 17(2), 152–158.

Davis, A., Lippe, M., Burduli, E., & Barbosa-Leiker, C. (2020). Development of a new undergraduate palliative care knowledge measure. Journal of Professional Nursing, 36(1), 47–52.

Department of Health. (2023). Curriculum blueprint: Core modules and focus topics [Palliative Care Curriculum for Undergraduates (PCC4U)].

Ddungu, H. (2011). Palliative care: What approaches are suitable in developing countries? British Journal of Haematology, 154(6), 728–735.

Ferrell, B., Malloy, P., Mazanec, P., & Virani, R. (2016). CARES: AACN's new competencies and recommendations for educating undergraduate nursing students to improve palliative care. Journal of Professional Nursing, 32(5), 327–333.

Gillan, P. C., Jeong, S., & van der Riet, P. J. (2014). End of life care simulation: A review of the literature. Nurse Education Today, 34(5), 766–774.

Gravier, S., & Erny-Albrecht, K. (2020). Allied health in Australia and its role in palliative care. CareSearch.

Griffith University. (2018). Griffith health framework for interpofessional learning. Retrieved August 22, 2022, from

Heath, L., Egan, R., Ross, J., Iosua, E., Walker, R., & MacLeod, R. (2021). Preparing nurses for palliative and end of life care: A survey of New Zealand nursing schools. Nurse Education Today, 100, Article 104822.

Hsieh, H.-F., & Shannon, S. E. (2005). Three approaches to qualitative content analysis. Qualitative Health Research, 15(9), 1277–1288.

Kesonen, P., Salminen, L., Kero, J., Aappola, J., & Haavisto, E. (2022). An integrative review of interprofessional teamwork and required competence in specialized palliative care. OMEGA - Journal of Death and Dying.

Kirkpatrick, A. J., Cantrell, M. A., & Smeltzer, S. C. (2017). Palliative care simulations in undergraduate nursing education: An integrative review. Clinical Simulation in Nursing, 13(9), 414–431.

Labrague, L. J., McEnroe–Petitte, D. M., Fronda, D. C., & Obeidat, A. A. (2018). Interprofessional simulation in undergraduate nursing program: An integrative review. Nurse Education Today, 67, 46–55.

Lateef, F. (2010). Simulation-based learning: Just like the real thing. Journal of Emergencies, Trauma and Shock, 3(4), 348–352.

Lippe, M. P., & Becker, H. (2015). Improving attitudes and perceived competence in caring for dying patients: An end-of-life simulation. Nursing Education Perspectives, 36(6), 372–378.

Mahmood-Yousuf, K., Munday, D., King, N., & Dale, J. (2008). Interprofessional relationships and communication in primary palliative care: Impact of the Gold Standards Framework. British Journal of General Practice, 58(549), 256–263.

Marion-Martins, A. D., & Pinho, D. L. (2020). Interprofessional simulation effects for healthcare students: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Nurse Education Today, 94, Article 104568.

Mathisen, B., Yates, P., & Crofts, P. (2015). Palliative care curriculum for speech–language pathology students. International Journal of Language & Communication Disorders, 46(3), 273–285.

Mills, J., Wand, T., & Fraser, J. A. (2018). Exploring the meaning and practice of self-care among palliative care nurses and doctors: A qualitative study. BMC Palliative Care, 17, Article 63.

Nulty, D. D. (2008). The adequacy of response rates to online and paper surveys: What can be done? Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education, 33(3), 301–314.

O'Shea, M.-C., Palermo, C., Rogers, G. D., & Williams, L. T. (2021). Key design characteristics of interprofessional simulation-based learning experiences as rated by allied health and nursing students. Clinical Simulation in Nursing, 50, 55–64.

O’Shea, M.-C., Reeves, N. E., Bialocerkowski, A., & Cardell, E. (2019). Using simulation-based learning to provide interprofessional education in diabetes to nutrition and dietetics and exercise physiology students through telehealth. Advances in Simulation, 4(1), Article 28.

Palliative Care Australia. (2018). National palliative care standards.

Palliative Care Curriculum for Undergraduates (PCC4U) Project Team. (2012). Principles for including palliative care in undergraduate curricula. QUT.

Parola, V., Coelho, A., Cardoso, D., Sandgren, A., & Apostolo, J. (2017). Burnout in palliative care settings compared with other settings: A systematic review. Journal of Hospice & Palliative Nursing, 19(5), 442–451.

Pieters, J., Dolmans, D. H., van den Beuken-van Everdingen, M. H., Warmenhoven, F. C., Westen, J. H., & Verstegen, D. M. (2020). A national, palliative care competency framework for undergraduate medical curricula. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 17(7), Article 2396.

Pornrattanakavee, P., Srichan, T., Seetalarom, K., Saichaemchan, S., Oer-Areemitr, N., & Prasongsook, N. (2022). Impact of interprofessional collaborative practice in palliative care on outcomes for advanced cancer inpatients in a resource-limited setting. BMC Palliative Care, 21, Article 229.

Shinnick, M. A., Woo, M. A., & Mentes, J. C. (2011). Human patient simulation: State of the science in prelicensure nursing education. Journal of Nursing Education, 50(2), 65–72.

Teede, R., & Keating, J. L. (2009). Palliative care education in Australian physiotherapy undergraduate curricula. Department of Health and Ageing.

Thiel, M., Mattison, D., Goudie, E., Licata, S., Brewster, J., & Montagnini, M. (2021). Social work training in palliative care: Addressing the gap. American Journal of Hospice and Palliative Medicine®, 38(8), 893–898.

Turner, L., Kuyini, A. B., Agustine, S. S., & Hunter, S. (2015). Social work student views on palliative care learning resources. Australian Social Work, 68(2), 259–270.

World Health Organization (WHO). (2010). Framework for action on interprofessional education and collaborative practice.

World Health Organization (WHO). (2020). Global atlas of palliative care (2nd ed.).

World Health Organization (WHO). (2023). Palliative care. Retrieved February 3, 2023, from




How to Cite

Reeves, N. E., O’Shea, M.-C., Ash, K., & Rego, J. (2024). Developing palliative care skills in undergraduate allied health students using an interprofessional simulation-based learning experience. Focus on Health Professional Education: A Multi-Professional Journal, 25(2), 36–52.