Surgical palliative care training in general surgery residency: An educational needs assessment

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32 Scopus citations


Introduction: There is increasing recognition that Surgical Palliative Care is an essential component of the holistic care of surgical patients and involves more than end-of-life care in the intensive care unit. General surgery residents are clinically exposed to patients with palliative care needs during each year of training, but few have a dedicated surgical palliative care curriculum. We undertook this educational needs assessment as the first step towards a longitudinal curriculum. Methods: We conducted an anonymous survey of 94 general surgery residents and 115 faculty at community and university hospitals to assess their experience and comfort with surgical palliative care delivery. Residents and faculty were asked multiple choice and open-ended questions. Results: There was a 55% response rate from residents and 33% response rate from faculty. The majority (77%) of respondents were junior residents (PGY1-3) and university-based faculty (66%). Approximately half of residents felt comfortable leading conversations in goals of care (58%), comfort-focused care (52%) and delivering bad news (57%), while greater than 90% of faculty agreed that chief residents needed additional training. All residents agreed they needed additional training and 85% wanted a formal curriculum. Analysis of open-ended questions suggests a deficiency in the pre-operative setting as no residents had participated in these conversations in an outpatient setting. Conclusion: Residents and faculty believe trainees would benefit from further education in surgical palliative care with a dedicated curriculum. The outpatient, pre-operative counseling of patients was identified as a key learning need. These data support our ongoing work to develop a surgically pertinent palliative care curriculum.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)928-931
Number of pages4
JournalAmerican journal of surgery
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2019

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery


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