BACKGROUND: Recommendations of the European Association for Palliative Care have been proposed to strengthen the provision of palliative care and it is clear that people with dementia can benefit from palliative care, but no research so far addresses the beliefs of university students and professionals in the social, medical and other science fields in South East Europe regarding the need from palliative care. The objective of this study is to explore when students and professionals consider a person with dementia in need of palliative care and to compare their opinions in three South East European countries.
SUBJECTS AND METHODS: An anonymized questionnaire was used based on van Riet Paap et al. (2015) case-vignette. A sample of 1287 participants (student nurses, professional nurses, psychology students, professional psychologists, student doctors, professional doctors, and students and professionals from other non-relevant to medical and social care sciences) was examined in Greece, Bulgaria and Romania.
RESULTS: The open responses to the "when" question revealed the categories: after her diagnosis/after the first symptoms; when she and her family cannot cope; at the advance of symptoms; all the time; when she behaves aggressively; I am not sure/there is no specific point. Unexpectedly, age, professional status and field of studies were not found to be significant predictors, but only the country of origin was found to contribute to the differences in the participants' answers regarding the start of palliative care.
CONCLUSION: Although professional-student status and relevancy of subject did not predict opinions, the country of origin predicted controversies for the proposed time point of considering a person with dementia in need of palliative care.