Undergraduate palliative care teaching in Swiss medical faculties: a nationwide survey and improved learning objectives

Eychmüller, Steffen; Forster, M; Gudat, H; Lütolf, U M; Borasio, G D (2015). Undergraduate palliative care teaching in Swiss medical faculties: a nationwide survey and improved learning objectives. BMC medical education, 15, p. 213. BioMed Central 10.1186/s12909-015-0485-0

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In 2007, a first survey on undergraduate palliative care teaching in Switzerland has revealed major heterogeneity of palliative care content, allocation of hours and distribution throughout the 6 year curriculum in Swiss medical faculties. This second survey in 2012/13 has been initiated as part of the current Swiss national strategy in palliative care (2010 - 2015) to serve as a longitudinal monitoring instrument and as a basis for redefinition of palliative care learning objectives and curriculum planning in our country.


As in 2007, a questionnaire was sent to the deans of all five medical faculties in Switzerland in 2012. It consisted of eight sections: basic background information, current content and hours in dedicated palliative care blocks, current palliative care content in other courses, topics related to palliative care presented in other courses, recent attempts at improving palliative care content, palliative care content in examinations, challenges, and overall summary. Content analysis was performed and the results matched with recommendations from the EAPC for undergraduate training in palliative medicine as well as with recommendations from overseas countries.


There is a considerable increase in palliative care content, academic teaching staff and hours in all medical faculties compared to 2007. No Swiss medical faculty reaches the range of 40 h dedicated specifically to palliative care as recommended by the EAPC. Topics, teaching methods, distribution throughout different years and compulsory attendance still differ widely. Based on these results, the official Swiss Catalogue of Learning Objectives (SCLO) was complemented with 12 new learning objectives for palliative and end of life care (2013), and a national basic script for palliative care was published (2015).


Performing periodic surveys of palliative care teaching at national medical faculties has proven to be a useful tool to adapt the national teaching framework and to improve the recognition of palliative medicine as an integral part of medical training.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


04 Faculty of Medicine > Department of Haematology, Oncology, Infectious Diseases, Laboratory Medicine and Hospital Pharmacy (DOLS) > Clinic of Medical Oncology

UniBE Contributor:

Eychmüller, Steffen


600 Technology > 610 Medicine & health




BioMed Central




Marianne Zahn

Date Deposited:

21 Mar 2016 12:11

Last Modified:

21 Mar 2016 12:11

Publisher DOI:


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