Palliative care nursing competencies and undergraduate nursing students’ views of palliative care education.

Thesis event information

Date and time of the thesis defence

Place of the thesis defence

Leena Palotie auditorium 101A (Aapistie 5 A)

Topic of the dissertation

Palliative care nursing competencies and undergraduate nursing students’ views of palliative care education.

Doctoral candidate

Master of Health Sciences Minna Hökkä

Faculty and unit

University of Oulu Graduate School, Faculty of Medicine, Nursing Science and Health Management

Subject of study

Nursing Science


Docent Jari Kylmä, Tampere University


Professor Tarja Pölkki, University of Oulu

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Nurses need a wide range of palliative care competence and education

Minna Hökkä's doctoral thesis found that nurses need a wide range of palliative care competencies to provide high quality palliative care. Nursing students find the topic useful, but the need for further development of the education is evident.

Palliative care is holistic, multidisciplinary and active care of patients with incurable or life-threatening illness where also the patient’s closest ones’ is included in the approach. The main objectives are to prevent and alleviate suffering and to maintain quality of life. The need for palliative care is increasing as the population ages and chronic diseases become more prevalent. This trend increases the need for palliative care competencies in nurses, who play a key role in providing quality palliative care.

Hökkä’s study collected data from from multidisciplinary working groups involving 222 professionals. All nurses' need multidimensional palliative care competence, including for example the management of symptoms, support and encounter of patients in palliative care. In addition to basic skills, specialized nurse’s competence included, among others, maintaining expertise, advanced symptom management, research and development skills.

Hökkä's study also looked at student nurses' views on palliative care education. The data consisted of 1331 nursing students who were in the final stages of their studies. The results of the study showed that almost all nursing students found palliative care education useful. The survey also showed that only about half of them rated their knowledge of palliative care as adequate. In particular, more education on pain management and psychological symptoms was requested.

Ensuring that all students have equal access to an adequate amount of palliative care education was a key area for development of the education. Palliative care is an important topic in nursing education and palliative care competence also enhance to students' professional growth. In nursing education, students should achieve adequate level of competence in palliative care, Hökkä concludes.
Last updated: 23.1.2024