Abstract: Objective: The aim of this review was to explore the experiences of nursing students participating in end-of-life education programs.
Design: A systematic review.
Data sources: Exhaustive literature searches were performed using seven electronic databases: Medline, Scopus, Web of Science, CINAHL Plus, Dialnet Plus, Eric and Cuiden Plus.
Review methods: In total, 6572 studies published from 2008 until 2018 were examined. The Critical Appraisal Skills Program was used to assess the quality of the studies included in the review. The findings were synthesized using meta-aggregation.
Results: Seventeen studies were included in this systematic review, representing a sample of 606 nursing students. Simulation methods were most common among the educational programs analyzed. The analysis of qualitative data allowed us to identify 260 illustrations which were grouped into 14 categories and three themes: feelings and emotions during the performance of the pedagogical activity, end-of-life education among nursing students and competencies acquired on death and end-of-life. The most highlighted communication skills were learning to listen and building confidence to speak with the patient, family and the general public.
Conclusions: End-of-life programs generally helped students acquire communication skills, learn concepts and improve the administration of this type of care. In addition, they perceived the experience as an opportunity to learn more about oneself, gain trust and support critical thinking. Nonetheless, the evidence available in this field is limited due to the small number of studies, plus the limited data reported. Thus, further studies on this subject are necessary.
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