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J Palliat Med. 2011 Apr;14(4):413-9. doi: 10.1089/jpm.2010.0374. Epub 2011 Mar 4.

Design and implementation of an online course on research methods in palliative care: lessons learned.

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  • 1Department of Family Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, University of Calgary, Calgary, Alberta, Canada.



Research capacity in palliative and end-of-life care is less than some other fields of medicine where there is a longer track record of biomedical research. Palliative medicine clinicians often receive little or no formal research training during their postgraduate education; hence, education efforts may prove pivotal to increasing palliative care research capacity. To that end, our group established a national online training program on palliative care research methodologies, called Foundations of Palliative Care Research. This report describes the development and implementation of the course, and its evaluation. To inform decisions on the overall course objectives, length, design, and implementation, formal needs assessments were conducted through surveys of Canadian palliative medicine residency program directors and of Canadian palliative medicine residents.


A 12-week, online, module-based course was designed. The first iteration of the course was offered to English-speaking palliative medicine residents from across Canada between October 2008 and March 2009. The course utilized Web-based communication methods, and was delivered using a combination of asynchronous and synchronous learning strategies and activities.


Ten palliative care residents from different parts of the country registered and all completed the course with passing marks. Participants evaluated the course through a post course survey. The formal evaluation of the course, along with successes, challenges, and lessons applicable to future ventures, are discussed.

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