Palliative care education in U.S. adult neuro-oncology fellowship programs

Ambereen K. Mehta, Natalie May, Sarah Verga, Camilo E. Fadul

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Introduction: Palliative care (PC) for patients with neuro-oncological diseases positively impacts morbidity and mortality. No studies have evaluated whether neuro-oncology fellows receive formal PC education during fellowship. The purpose of this study was to describe the PC education and identify education needs of US neuro-oncology fellowship programs. Methods: Program directors (PDs) of US neuro-oncology fellowships were surveyed. The electronic survey included qualitative and quantitative questions. Results: Of 26 programs with fellows, 17 completed surveys (65% response rate) of which 3 (18%) offered no formal PC education. The methods most utilized were formal didactics (seminars/conferences) and self-directed reading materials. One-third of programs have developed their own teaching materials. Communication was the domain identified as most important, the domain fellows were most well-trained in, and the domain PDs felt most comfortable providing for their own patients. Addressing spiritual distress and initiating life-prolonging therapies were the domains PDs identified as being least important, fellows were least well trained in, and PDs were least comfortable providing for their own patients. Most programs (83%) were satisfied with the PC education available at their program. Time for teaching and faculty availability were the most common barriers. Conclusions: Neuro-oncology PDs recognize the need for PC education, which is currently offered in some form by most programs, but the content and methods of delivery are heterogenous. Interdisciplinary educational teams and nationally-available PC educational material may improve implementation of PC education in neuro-oncology.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalJournal of neuro-oncology
StateAccepted/In press - 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • Education
  • Fellowship
  • Neuro-oncology
  • Palliative care

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Cancer Research


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