Knowledge of and Attitudes toward End-of-life Care among Senior Medical Students at a Medical School in Puerto Rico

Iraida Salabarría-Peña, Katia L. Mercado-Castro, Katiuska N. Báez-López, Keydi N. Betancourt-González, Maria Del C. Ojeda-Vilá, Krystel M. Ruiz-Serrano


Objective: The purpose of this study was to assess knowledge and attitudes regarding end-of-life care (ELOC) among senior medical students at the University of Puerto Rico School of Medicine. Methods: This was a cross-sectional study in which a questionnaire was administered to senior medical students from February through March 2017. The questionnaire included a knowledge and an attitudinal scale, and socio-demographic information. Results: Eighty-one students with a mean age of 26 years participated. The majority were female (60.5%; n = 49) and most participants (81.5%; n = 63) correctly answered more than 70% of the questions on the knowledge scale. However, less than half (45.7%; n = 37) perceived that they had the knowledge necessary for EOLC. More male than female students (68.3% and 30.6%, respectively) felt that they were adequately prepared for working with patients requiring EOLC, a difference that was significant (P < .05). Most participants (81.0%; n = 66) had experienced the loss (due to death) of a significant person, and 66.0% (n = 53) felt that they had benefited from their experiences regarding being able to handle death. Conclusion: The study shows that participants had adequate knowledge about and positive attitudes toward EOLC but believed that they were lacking in knowledge, especially female students. These findings suggest the need to design and implement strategies to develop and strengthen self-efficacy in medical students regarding management of patients at the end of life.


Medical students, End-of-Life care, Knowledge, Attitudes

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