BACKGROUND: The Surprise Question (SQ) "would I be surprised if this patient were to die in the next 12 months?" has been suggested to help clinicians, and especially General Practitioners (GPs), identify people who might benefit from palliative care. The prognostic accuracy of this approach is unclear and little is known about how GPs use this tool in practice. Are GPs consistent, individually and as a group? Are there international differences in the use of the tool? Does including the alternative Surprise Question ("Would I be surprised if the patient were still alive after 12 months?") alter the response? What is the impact on the treatment plan in response to the SQ? This study aims to address these questions.
METHODS: An online study will be completed by 600 (100 per country) registered GPs. They will be asked to review 20 hypothetical patient vignettes. For each vignette they will be asked to provide a response to the following four questions: (1) the SQ [Yes/No]; (2) the alternative SQ [Yes/No]; (3) the percentage probability of dying [0% no chance - 100% certain death]; and (4) the proposed treatment plan [multiple choice]. A "surprise threshold" for each participant will be calculated by comparing the responses to the SQ with the probability estimates of death. We will use linear regression to explore any differences in thresholds between countries and other clinician-related factors, such as years of experience. We will describe the actions taken by the clinicians and explore the differences between groups. We will also investigate the relationship between the alternative SQ and the other responses. Participants will receive a certificate of completion and the option to receive feedback on their performance.
DISCUSSION: This study explores the extent to which the SQ is consistently used at an individual, group, and national level. The findings of this study will help to understand the clinical value of using the SQ in routine practice.
BACKGROUND: In Europe in recent decades, university teaching of palliative medicine (PM) has evolved. In some countries it has been introduced as a compulsory subject in all medical schools, but in a majority of countries it remains an isolated subject at few universities.
OBJECTIVE: To explore how PM has been introduced into the curricula and how it is currently being taught at different European universities.
METHOD: Case study method using face-to-face semistructured interviews with experienced PM professors, comparing how they have developed PM undergraduate programs at their universities.
RESULTS: An intentional sample of eight university professors from Spain, France, UK, Italy, Hungary, Sweden, Germany, and Poland was chosen. The introduction of PM in the universities depends on the existence of a favorable social and political context in relation to palliative care and the initiative of pioneers, trusted by students, to push this education forward. A PM curriculum frequently starts as an optional subject and becomes mandatory in a short period. In the reported universities, PM uses a wide variety of teaching methods, such as lectures, workshops, role-plays, and discussions. PM assessment included tests, discussions, reflections, portfolios, and research works. According to respondents' opinions, lack of recognition, funding, and accredited teachers, along with competition from other curricula, are the main barriers for palliative medicine teaching development at universities.
CONCLUSION: Diverse paths and tools have been identified for PM teaching in Europe. The described cases may shed light on other medical schools to develop PM curricula.
Cette étude montre qu'en fin de vie, la fréquence des visites à domicile, effectuées par les médecins de soins palliatifs, et un service continu de soins palliatifs à domicile favoriseraient le fait de mourir à domicile dans une cohorte de patients cancéreux.
L’Association Européenne de Soins Palliatifs (EAPC) a publié des données sur la spécialisation des médecins en médecine palliative en Europe dans un document intitulé "Specialisation in palliative medicine for physicians in Europe 2014". Il a été présenté au congrès de l'EAPC en juin 2014 à Lleida.