Open Access Research article

Planning training seminars in palliative care: a cross-sectional survey on the preferences of general practitioners and nurses in Austria

Gerhild Becker12*, Felix Momm2, Peter Deibert2, Carola Xander2, Annemarie Gigl3, Brigitte Wagner4 and Johann Baumgartner5

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Internal Medicine II, University Medical Center Freiburg, Freiburg, Germany

2 Palliative Care Research Group, University Medical Center Freiburg, Freiburg, Germany

3 Red Cross Austria, National Association Styria, Graz, Austria

4 External consultantions for Socioscientific Studies, Methodology and Statistics Graz, Austria

5 Palliative Care Coordination Styria, KAGes-Services Graz, Austria

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BMC Medical Education 2010, 10:43  doi:10.1186/1472-6920-10-43

Published: 11 June 2010



Training in palliative care is frequently requested by health care professionals. However, little is known in detail about the subject matters and the educational preferences of physicians and staff or assistant nurses in this field.


All 897 registered GPs and all 933 registered home care nurses in the district of Steiermark/Austria were sent postal questionnaires.


Results from 546 (30%) respondents revealed that GPs prefer evening courses and weekend seminars, whereas staff and assistant nurses prefer one-day courses. Multidisciplinary sessions are preferred by almost 80% of all professional groups. GPs preferred multi disciplinary groups most frequently when addressing psychosocial needs (88.8%) and ethical questions (85.8%). Staff and assistant nurses preferred multidisciplinary groups most frequently in the area of pain management (88%) and opted for multi disciplinary learning to a significantly higher extent than GPs (69%; p < 0.01). Those topics were ranked first which are not only deepening, but supplementing the professional training. On average, GPs were willing to spend a maximum amount of € 400 per year for training seminars in palliative care, whereas nurses would spend approximately € 190 for such classes.

The results provide a detailed analysis of the preferences of GPs and nurses and offer guidance for the organisation of training seminars in palliative care.


Medical and nursing education programs often pursue separate paths. Yet our findings indicate that in palliative care multidisciplinary training seminars are favoured by both, doctors and nurses. Also, both groups prefer topics that are not only deepening, but supplementing their professional knowledge.