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An EAPC Task Force on preparation for practice in Palliative Care Nursing across the EU.


The original EAPC Nursing Task Force concluded its work in 2004 with the publication of a set of guidelines in relation to palliative nurse education and preparation for practice. No evaluation of its impact or effectiveness was undertaken. Now 10 years after that publication and utilising the framework of the published EAPC Atlas it is proposed to determine the degree of uptake of the original guideline across the EU, identify the barriers and facilitators to the implementation of the guideline  and revise in line with international trends in relation to competencies for practice.

Aims & objectives

To assess the impact and uptake of the 2004 EAPC document for the development of palliative nursing practice.

To revise and present an updated version of the document relative to international competency frameworks.


In 2004, an EAPC task force on palliative nurse education presented a set of guidelines for the preparation of nurses for practice in palliative care and subsequently published ( De Vlieger et al, 2004). The document considered the academic and clinical preparation of nurses based on the then agreed Level 1, Level 2 and Level 3 framework, from generalist to specialist. In addition, indicators of capacity to practice were given based on the level of educational attainment based on clinical tasks. Versions of the document were translated into French, Spanish and Portuguese and is currently available on the EAPC website.

Although at the time, there was an indication that the document was useful, no systematic evidence of its impact or dispersion through the EU was undertaken and evidence for its use is anaecdotal. In the last 10 years since its publication, there have been considerable national and international developments in relation to education, not only by EAPC, but by member associations, and academic providers. Task forces on Medical Education, Social Work, Psychology and Spiritual Care have all looked to address training and education needs but a gap remains in this from a nursing perspective ( possibly the largest professional group providing palliative care ) at this time. Nurses in some countries are increasingly exposed to higher education options and professional development roles such as clinical nurse specialist. The idea of competency-based assessment of skills and aptitudes in relation to palliative care nursing has also become more evident since the original work was undertaken.

This project is designed to gain a better understanding of the impact of the original 2004 guideline document for palliative care nursing in Europe Linked in to the work of the EAPC Atlas, a survey of member associations will be undertaken with a focus on evidence and examples of use, faciliators and barriers to its use at that time and current perceived needs in palliative nursing education.

It is then proposed to revise the 2004 document to bring this into line with contemporary national and international development in palliative care nursing.

A steering committee will lead the project, supported by Task Force team members representing EU palliative nursing practitioners and educators. An International Advisory Group will be convened to comment on drafts of the revised document in light of their own national development and international lens on nursing practice and education.

This project will contribute to the work of the education stream of EAPC work and help to clarify the landscape for education and training for nurses to inform future initiatives for member associations and EAPC itself.


Action Date Milestone (complete) Reports
Project commencement September 2014  
Development of an online survey October 2014 July 2015  
Interim report to EAPC I     April 2015
Meeting of the Steering Group at the EAPC Congress in Copenhagen May 2015    
Selection of Participants in the Online Survey (contacts with National Palliative Care Associations July 2015 December 2015  
Survey of member associations January 2016 March 2016  
Interim report to EAPC II   September 2015 September 2015
Analysis of survey April 2016 June 2016  
Interim report to EAPC III   April 2016 April 2016
Revision to existing document July2016 September 2016  
Meeting of the Steering Group at the EAPC Research Congress in Dublin June 2016    
1st draft to Task Force members (Feedback) September 2016 End October 2016  
Annual report to EAPC   October 2016 December 2016
Revisions from feedback November 2016 End November 2016  
Interim report to EAPC   March 2017 June 2016
1st draft to International Advisory Group January 2017 February 2017  
Final revisions  March 2016 April 2017  
Final review (all groups) May 2016 End June 2017  
Submit to EAPC   July 2017  
Project complete December 2017    


Financial Plan

It is proposed that this work will be considered ‘cost-neutral’. Work will be carried out through e-mail and teleconference which will be managed internally by Professor Philip Larkin. Any face-to face meetings will be timed to coincide with EAPC events to attract a quorum of members who would be attending the event without additional costs to the Task Force.

The online survey will be conducted through the EAPC social media channels

Finally, it is foreseen that a white paper and/or a publication with recommendations will result from this task force. Hence, it is requested that this publication will be made through one of the official journals/publications of the EAPC (European Journal of Palliative Care/Palliative Medicine which do not incur publication costs).



Sandra Martins Pereira
Institute of Bioethics
Catholic University of Portugal

contact by email

Anneke Francke
VU University Medical Center
Amsterdam, Netherlands

contact by email

Steering Committee

International Advisory Group to comment on the revised document:

Despina Anagnostou, Greece
Maria Arantzamedi Solabarrieta, Spain
Manuel Luís Capelas, Portugal
Michael Connolly, Ireland
Ria de Korte, Netherlands
Pablo Hernández-Marrero, Spain
Norbert Krumm, Germany
Phil Larkin, Ireland
Nicoleta Mitrea, Romania
Roeline Pasman, Netherlands
Esther Schmidlin, Switzerland


Patricia Coelho, Portugal
Martin Loucka, Czech Republic


Advisory Committee

Ana Carvajal, Spain
Tine de Vlieger, Belgium
Betty Ferrell, USA
Peter Hudson, Australia
Christine Ingleton, UK
Anna Salas-Santos, Canada



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