Evaluation (Qualitative)

Although most of the doctor participants had profound knowledge and expertise in practicing medicine, especially in their specialized fields, they might lack experience in conducting end-of-life conversations. It was observed that many of them tended to focus on the curative nature of medicine, and include excessive medical information and terminology into the dialogues with patients and their family members. Furthermore, many of them believed that end-of-life conversations were “reserved” for palliative specialists, and thus were not something that they concerned too much about.

Through the various training sessions, participants were reminded that empathetic and emotional support, as opposed to factual and medical details, are more important from the care recipients’ perspective. As an outcome of the training, participants became more aware of what they should address and discuss, and what their manner of speaking should be. They also expressed that they felt more comfortable and confident in discussing with patients and their family members about end-of-life issues. In addition, participants recognized that doctors from all backgrounds, instead of only those with training in palliative care, should be responsible for conducting end-of-life conversations.

Notably, many participants commented that they had benefited immensely from the role-play exercises and the feedback obtained from their colleagues, since such learning opportunities are relatively rare in a formal medical curriculum.