The impact of a distance learning death and dying course: An analysis of student self-reported changes

Silverdale, Natalie and Katz, Jeanne (2005). The impact of a distance learning death and dying course: An analysis of student self-reported changes. Nurse Education Today, 25(7) pp. 509–518.




Educational programmes are under way to improve knowledge, awareness and skills in holistic end-of-life care. Not all people can access education and continued professional development in a conventional face-to-face setting. The UK Open University’s distance learning course entitled ‘Death and Dying’ (K260) attracts a broad spectrum of British and foreign students, including those who undertake the course for work-related purposes, and those who have a personal or academic interest in the area.

This study explored students’ self-reported satisfaction with the course primarily whether respondents perceived changes in their attitudes or practices. Two questionnaires were posted to students registered on K260, the first at the beginning of the course and the second, to those who returned the first questionnaire, following the final examination. Most respondents reported satisfaction with the quality and content of K260. Irrespective of whether respondents worked with dying or bereaved people, most felt that the course: encouraged reflection on personal beliefs and/or attitudes towards death and dying; furthered their knowledge of palliative care; increased their understanding of relevant ethical, legal and moral issues; raised their awareness of religious and cultural issues; and helped them develop skills to deal more effectively with dying and bereaved people.

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