Relationships among nursing student palliative care knowledge, experience, self-awareness, and performance: An end-of-life simulation study

Amanda J. Kirkpatrick, Mary Ann Cantrell, Suzanne C. Smeltzer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

33 Scopus citations


Background: Palliative care education and experience are needed for student competence in delivering high-quality palliative nursing care. Simulation has been linked to acquired clinical competency among pre-licensure students. A known literature gap is measurement of students’ performance during end-of-life simulations. Objectives: The aim of this study was to determine relationships among previous palliative care nursing experience, knowledge, self-awareness, and performance in nursing students during an end-of-life simulation. Design/Setting/Participants: A quasi-experimental pretest/posttest design was used to assess these variables with a convenience sample of 75 senior nursing students during an end-of-life simulation at a Midwest Jesuit university. Methods: Self-awareness was measured with the Frommelt Attitudes Toward Care of the Dying, Form B. The Palliative Care Quiz for Nursing measured participants’ knowledge. Participants’ performance during the simulation was measured using a modified version of the Creighton Competency Evaluation Instrument®. Palliative care nursing self-awareness and knowledge were assessed before and after the simulation. Previous end-of-life care experience was assessed with a single demographic question at pretest only. Results: The sample was highly experienced in end-of-life care (93.3% reporting experience pre-simulation). Although pretest self-awareness (M = 124.5; ±1.3) and knowledge (M = 57.1%; ±2.2) were higher in students with two or more types of end-of-life experience (n = 42), there were no significant differences (p >.10) in these outcomes by groups pre- or post-simulation. Self-awareness (M = 130.1; ±1.2), knowledge (M = 80.5%; ±2.6), and performance (M = 94.1%; IQR 87.5 to 100) scores were high for student participants (n = 36) post-simulation, with moderate correlations found between some scores (rpb < −0.40 or 0.40). Conclusions: Findings support self-awareness and knowledge as antecedents of high quality palliative nursing care. Students demonstrated increased post-simulation knowledge, self-awareness, and quality performance of palliative nursing care regardless of previous end-of-life experience. End-of-life simulation is supported as an education method for increasing palliative care nursing competence and assessing student performance of palliative care nursing interventions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)23-30
Number of pages8
JournalNurse Education Today
StatePublished - Feb 2019

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Nursing(all)
  • Education


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