Using Simulation to Help Healthcare Students Learn to Talk to Patients about End-of-Life Questions,

Dennis Demedts, Jürgen Magerman, Ellen Goossens, Johan Bilsen, Stefaan De Smet, Maaike Fobelets

Research output: Contribution to journalMeeting abstract (Journal)


Background/aims: Partly due to the increasing ageing of the population, healthcare professionals will be more confronted with patients who request euthanasia, or ask end-of-life questions. Healthcare professionals must have sufficient competencies to deal with these questions. A lack of these competencies is shown by a study in which Belgian final-year nursing students indicated that they did not have sufficient knowledge, and skills to deal with end-of-life questions, and euthanasia. Adequate attention must be paid to this during their training since euthanasia is legal in Belgium. The aim of this study is to develop an educational module with interactive simulation.
Methods: Before the simulation training, each student follows a blended learning lesson on the topic of euthanasia, and end-of-life. This lesson focuses on legislation in Belgium, as well as on the basic concepts of dealing with end-of-life questions, including euthanasia. Afterwards, students jointly watch an audiovisual story with a good practice example, followed by an in-vivo simulation, and debriefing. Students participated (n=17) in post-test session discussion groups to discuss the module, their experiences, and improvements.
Results: This simulation module helped students to overcome an initial ’fear’ threshold, and to start exploring the euthanasia, or end-of-life question. There seems to be a very strong focus from students to do the simulation conversation in a protocolized way. Students find this simulation adds value.
Conclusions: The importance of conversation simulation exercises in healthcare education cannot be underestimated. By giving healthcare students an initial experience in a safe simulated environment, they are more confident to have an exploratory conversation, not only about euthanasia, and end-of-life in the future, but also to explore the end-of-life question, and the issues underlying it.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-302
Number of pages303
JournalPalliative Medicine
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 7 Jun 2023
EventEAPC 2023 18th World Congress - Rotterdam, Netherlands
Duration: 15 Jun 202317 Jun 2023


  • euthanasia
  • nursing students
  • simulation


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