Scientific publications

Comparative analysis of specialization in palliative medicine processes within the World Health Organization European region

May 1, 2015 | Magazine: Journal of Pain and Symptom Management

Centeno C (1), Bolognesi D (2), Biasco G (3). 

Palliative medicine (PM), still in the development phase, is a new, growing specialty aimed at caring for both oncology and non-oncology patients. There is still confusion about the training offered in the various European PM certification programs.

To provide a detailed, comparative update and analysis of the PM certification process in Europe, including the different training approaches and their main features.

Experts from each country completed an online survey addressing historical background, program name, training requirements, length of time in training, characteristic and content, official certifying institution, effectiveness of accreditation, and 2013 workforce capacity. We prepared a comparative analysis of the data provided.

In 2014, 18 of 53 European countries had official programs on specialization in PM (POSPM): Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Hungary, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Latvia, Malta, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, and the U.K. Ten of these programs were begun in the last five years. The PM is recognized as a "specialty," "subspecialty," or "special area of competence," with no substantial differences between the last two designations.

The certification contains the term "palliative medicine" in most countries. Clinical training varies, with one to two years being the most frequent duration. There is a clear trend toward establishing the POSPM as a mandatory condition for obtaining a clinical PM position in countries' respective health systems.

PM is growing as a specialization field in Europe. Processes leading to certification are generally long and require substantial clinical training. The POSPM education plans are heterogeneous.

The European Association for Palliative Care should commit to establishing common learning standards, leading to additional European-based recognition of expertise in PM.

CITATION  J Pain Symptom Manage. 2015 May;49(5):861-70. doi: 10.1016/j.jpainsymman.2014.10.019. Epub 2015 Jan 24.