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BMC Palliat Care. 2017 Jun 7;16(1):38. doi: 10.1186/s12904-017-0212-1.

A survey of palliative medicine education in Japan's undergraduate medical curriculum.

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Department of Clinical Oncology, School of Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, Toho University, 5-21-16 Omorinishi, Ota city, Tokyo, 143-8540, Japan.
Palliative Care Team, Toho University Ohashi Medical Center, Meguro city, Tokyo, Japan.
Working Group of Education, The Association for Palliative Care in University Hospital, Shinagawa city, Tokyo, Japan.
Working Group of Education, The Association for Palliative Care in University Hospital, Shinagawa city, Tokyo, Japan.
Office of Medical Education, Showa University, School of Medicine, Shinagawa city, Tokyo, Japan.
Chemotherapy and Palliative Care, Yokohama City University Medical Center, Yokohama city, Kanagawa, Japan.
Asoka Vihāra Hospital, Joyo city, Kyoto, Japan.
Nursing department, Kawasaki Municipal Tama Hospital, Kawasaki city, Kanagawa, Japan.
Department of Clinical Oncology, Graduate School of Medical and Dental Sciences, Tokyo Medical and Dental University, Bunkyo city, Tokyo, Japan.



This study aimed to examine the status of undergraduate palliative care education among Japanese medical students using data from a survey conducted in 2015.


A questionnaire was originally developed, and the survey forms were sent to universities. The study's objectives, methods, disclosure of results, and anonymity were explained to participating universities in writing. Responses returned by the universities were considered to indicate consent to participate. Descriptive statistical methodology was employed.


The response rate was 82.5% (66 of 80 medical faculties and colleges). Palliative care lectures were implemented in 98.5% of the institutions. Regarding lecture titles, "palliative medicine," "palliative care," and "terminal care" accounted for 42.4, 30.3, and 9.1% of the lectures, respectively. Teachers from the Department of Anesthesia, Palliative Care, and Psychiatry administered 51.5, 47.0, and 28.8% of lectures, respectively. Subjects of lectures included general palliative care (81.8%), pain management (87.9%), and symptom management (63.6%). Clinical clerkship on palliative care was a compulsory and non-compulsory course in 43.9 and 25.8% of the schools, respectively; 30.3% had no clinical clerkship curriculum.


Undergraduate palliative care education is implemented in many Japanese universities. Clinical clerkship combined with participation in actual medical practice should be further improved by establishing a medical education certification system in compliance with the international standards.


Medical school; Palliative care; Palliative medicine; Undergraduate education

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