Review Article| Volume 22, ISSUE 2, P268-278, February 2021

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Staff Training Interventions to Improve End-of-Life Care of Nursing Home Residents: A Systematic Review

  • Pauli J. Lamppu
    Address correspondence to Pauli J. Lamppu, MD, Department of General Practice and Primary Health Care, University of Helsinki, PO Box 20, 00014, Helsinki, Finland.
    Department of General Practice and Primary Health Care, University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland

    Department of Social Services and Health Care, Geriatric Clinic, Helsinki Hospital, Helsinki, Finland
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  • Kaisu H. Pitkala
    Department of General Practice and Primary Health Care, University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland

    Unit of Primary Health Care, Helsinki University Hospital, Helsinki, Finland
    Search for articles by this author
Published:October 26, 2020DOI:



      The aim was to review evidence from all randomized controlled trials (RCTs) using palliative care education or staff training as an intervention to improve nursing home residents' quality of life (QOL) or quality of dying (QOD) or to reduce burdensome hospitalizations.


      A systematic review with a narrative summary.

      Setting and Participants

      Residents in nursing homes and other long-term care facilities.


      We searched MEDLINE, CINAHL, PsycINFO, the Cochrane Library, Scopus, and Google Scholar, references of known articles, previous reviews, and recent volumes of key journals. RCTs were included in the review. Methodologic quality was assessed.


      The search yielded 932 articles after removing the duplicates. Of them, 16 cluster RCTs fulfilled inclusion criteria for analysis. There was a great variety in the interventions with respect to learning methods, intensity, complexity, and length of staff training. Most interventions featured other elements besides staff training. In the 6 high-quality trials, only 1 showed a reduction in hospitalizations, whereas among 6 moderate-quality trials 2 suggested a reduction in hospitalizations. None of the high-quality trials showed effects on residents' QOL or QOD. Staff reported an improved QOD in 1 moderate-quality trial.

      Conclusions and Implications

      Irrespective of the means of staff training, there were surprisingly few effects of education on residents' QOL, QOD, or burdensome hospitalizations. Further studies are needed to explore the reasons behind these findings.


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