Official certification of doctors working in palliative medicine in Europe: data from an EAPC study in 52 European countries
Carlos Centeno, Antonio Noguera, David Clark
There is an increasing move to recognize palliative medicine as an area of certificated specialization. Drawing on a survey of palliative care provision in the World Health Organization European region, an overview of palliative care specialization and accreditation practices was presented.
Within an international survey to key experts in palliative care carried out in 2005, conducted in 52 countries, a question about the certification for palliative care professionals was included. Information was obtained for 43 of the 52 countries surveyed and all 43 countries (83%) provided data on certification.
Palliative medicine has specialty status in just two European countries: Ireland and the UK. In five countries it is considered as a sub-specialty, for which a second certification is required: Poland, Romania, Slovakia and Germany and, recently, France. Some 10 other countries have started the process of certification for palliative medicine, in all cases opting for sub-specialty status that follows full recognition in an established specialty. Across countries there is disparity in the certification criteria followed and considerable variability in the demands that are made in order to achieve certification. Further studies are needed to focus in depth on palliative medicine certification and accreditation across Europe.
Establishing uniform approaches to certification for palliative medicine in different European countries will contribute to wider take-up of specialty status and the improved recognition of palliative care as a discipline.