Psychosocial Oncology and Palliative Care
Many deficiencies have been noted in end-of-life care. Medical education and postgraduate training offer few opportunities for physicians to learn how to care for patients with advanced illness. However, through understanding the status of palliative care education, physicians' attitudes and practices in relation to end-of-life care, and their experiences in caring for patients who die, we can develop new ways to improve physician education and patient care. To that end, we are conducting the following studies:Physicians' emotional reactions to their patients' deaths. In this study, we are using both qualitative and quantitative methods to explore the experiences of medical students, interns, residents, and attending physicians who are caring for dying patients.Program in Palliative Care Education and Practice Outcome Evaluation. We are conducting an intensive long-term evaluation of the impact of a two-week faculty development program on physicians' competencies in palliative care, education, and organizational change.Through the Center for Psychooncology and Palliative Care Research, we are also developing a series of studies focused on mental health issues at the end of life, caregivers of dying patients, and the bereaved, as well as the impact of physician factors (e.g., beliefs, knowledge, attitudes) on the quality and outcomes of care at the end of life. Finally, we are developing and validating performance-assessment measures for specialist training in palliative care.