Context: Although palliative care is rapidly being disseminated throughout Japan as a result of government policy, a systematic syllabus of palliative medicine for physicians has not been developed.
Aims: This study aimed to develop a Japanese national consensus syllabus of palliative medicine for physicians.
Design: We used a modified Delphi method to develop the consensus syllabus.
Methods and Setting: We created a Delphi panel by selecting 20 expert eligible panelists consisting of Diplomate or Faculty of the Specialty Board of Palliative Medicine and certified by the Japanese Society for Palliative Medicine. We inducted external reviewers from 11 palliative care-related organizations.
Results: Among 20 experts surveyed, 20 (100%) responded over all rounds. Ten (50%) participated in a panel meeting. In the first round, 179 of 179 (100%) learning objectives were judged to be appropriate and 5 of 179 (3%) learning objectives were judged to be too difficult. In the panel meeting, 25 learning objectives were excluded, three new learning objectives were added, and 15 learning objectives were reworded. In the second round, 18 of 18 (100%) learning objectives were judged to be appropriate. The final version of the syllabus developed consists of 157 specific behavioural objectives and 22 general instructional objectives across 22 courses.
Conclusions: We have developed the first national consensus syllabus of palliative medicine for physicians in Japan. Based on this syllabus, a training program on palliative medicine will be established by training facilities in Japan, and physicians will be able to practice specific palliative care.
BACKGROUND: Palliative care education for health care professionals is a key element in improving access to quality palliative care. The Palliative Care Emphasis Program on Symptom Management and Assessment for Continuous Medical Education (PEACE) was designed to provide educational opportunities for all physicians in Japan. As of 2015, 57,764 physicians had completed it. The objective of this study was to estimate the effects of the program.
METHODS: This study was an analysis of 2 nationwide observational studies from 2008 and 2015. We conducted 2 questionnaire surveys for representative samples of physicians. The measurements used were the Palliative Care Knowledge Test (range, 0-100) and the Palliative Care Difficulties Scale (range, 1-4). Comparisons were made with the unpaired Student t test and with a multivariate linear regression model using 2 cohorts and a propensity score-matched sample.
RESULTS: This study analyzed a total of 48,487 physicians in 2008 and a total of 2720 physicians in 2015. Between 2008 and 2015, physicians' knowledge and difficulties significantly improved on the Palliative Care Knowledge Test with total scores of 68 and 78, respectively (P < .001; effect size, 0.40) and on the Palliative Care Difficulties Scale with total scores of 2.65 and 2.49, respectively (P < .001; effect size, 0.29). Propensity-score matching resulted in 619 untrained physicians matched to 619 trained physicians, and physicians who trained with the PEACE program had a higher knowledge score (74 vs 86; P < .001; effect size, 0.64) and a lower difficulties score (2.6 vs 2.3; P < .001; effect size, 0.42).
CONCLUSIONS: Physicians' knowledge of and difficulties with palliative care improved on a national level. The PEACE program may have contributed to these improvements.