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.


Validation of country reports: new date – April 2019 (completed)

Article/final report preparation: new date – December 2019

Feedback Steering and Advisory Groups: – January 2020

Final revisions and submission to journal (Palliative Medicine) - January 2020


  • All-Ireland Institute of Hospice and Palliative Care
  • Ordem dos Enfermeiros (Portugal) www.ordemenfermeiros.pt
  • Ordem dos Enfermeiros – Secção Regional da Região Autónoma dos Açores (Portugal) 
  • Associação Portuguesa de Cuidados Paliativos www.apcp.com.pt
  • Dutch Palliative Nursing Association
  • Consejo General de Enfermeria de Espana
  • International Council of Nurses

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 Palliative Medicine, which will not incur publication costs.



Milestone (complete)


2014 Sept 

Project commencement 

2014 Oct 

Development of an online survey

July 2015

Interim Report to EAPC 1

Apr 2015 

May 2015

Closed meeting at the 14th World Congress of the EAPC in Copenhagen

Summer 2015

Contacts via national associations and representatives to identify participants for the survey

Autumn 2015

Interim Report to EAPC 2

Oct 2015

Jan 2016

Online survey testing

Online survey

January 2016

June 2016

Interim report to EAPC 3

April 2016

June 2016

Closed meeting at the 9th World Research Congress of the EAPC in Dublin

June 2016

Interim Report to EAPC 4

October 2016

Autumn/winter 2016

Analysis of survey

Spring 2017

Interim Report to EAPC 5

Interim Report to EAPC 5

April 2017

May 2017

Closed and open meetings at the EAPC Congress 2017 in Madrid

May 2017

Interim Report to EAPC 6

October 2017

Spring/Summer 2018

Country-level analysis of the survey

September 2018

Interim report to EAPC 7

April 2018

Spring/Summer 2018

Development of country reports

September 2018

2018 October

Abstract submission to the 2019 EAPC Congress

October 2018

Interim Report to EAPC 8

October 2018

Autumn 2018

Validation of country reports

Article/final report preparation

Winter 2019

Feedback Steering and Advisory Groups and EAPC Board of Directors


January 2020

September 2020

Finalisation of the taskforce and publication of report in Palliative Medicine


September 2020


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, Switzerland
Nicoleta Mitrea, Romania
Roeline Pasman, Netherlands
Esther Schmidlin, Switzerland


Patricia Coelho, Portugal
Martin Loucka, Czech Republic
Minna Hökkä, Finland


Advisory Committee

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

Click on the logo to read posts relating to other EAPC task forces and reference groups. You can also read posts about "Nurse Education" here. Many have been contributed by our task force/reference group members.