Research Studies

Improving End-of-Life Communications Using Technology-Assisted Continuing Education with Interprofessional Teams

Research Studies

Evaluating the use of online education to improve nurses’ and social workers’ level of comfort and capability in communicating end of life concerns.


One role of healthcare providers is to involve patients and their families in end-of-life communication and decision making. However, this is often a sensitive topic that providers can be uncomfortable talking about. The purpose of the present study was to evaluate the use of online education to improve nurses’ and social workers’ level of comfort and capability in communicating end of life concerns with patients and their families.


A test-retest design pilot study was conducted with 20 inpatient registered nurses and social workers a medical-surgical and critical care unit. Participants viewed three 1-hour Kubler Ross webinars, and before and after the intervention, participants completed surveys, designed to measure self-reported levels of comfort and capability in dealing with end-of-life care and symptom management. Participants also completed a program evaluation.


Results showed that both comfort and capability increased significantly after taking the online training. Further, 90% of the participants who completed the study found the education to be “much” or “a great deal” helpful in enhancing their skills, strategy, and performance.


This study highlights online continuing education as an effective and useful tool to improve the comfort and capability of nurses and social workers. End-of-life conversations can be uncomfortable but online education could provide one avenue to increase provider comfort and capability, potentially improving patient outcomes and quality of care.


Gullatte, M. M., Allen, C. S., Botheroyd, E., Hess, J. G. J., Higgins, M., Meneghetti, J., . . . Salmon, N. (2019). Improving end-of-life communication using technology-assisted continuing education with interprofessional teams. Journal for Nurses in Professional Development, 35(1), 25-31. doi:10.1097/NND.0000000000000514

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Mary Magee Gullatte PhD, RN, ANP-BC, AOCN, FAAN

Corporate Director of Nursing Innovation and Research, Emory Healthcare


Oncology Clinical Nurse Specialist, Winship Cancer Institute of Emory University

Elizabeth Botheroyd BSN, MHA, RN-BC

Manager, Nursing Education Department, Emory Healthcare

Robert Hess Jr., PhD, RN, FAAN

Founder & CEO, Forum for Shared Governance

Melinda Higgins PhD

Research Professor, Emory Healthcare

Julia Meneghetti BSN, RN, CCRN

Contributor, Relias Institute

Sandra Mullings LCSW, ACM-SW, CPC

Director, Care Coordination, Emory University Hospital Midtown

Jennifer Mensik PhD, RN, FAAN

Division Director , Oregon Health and Science University

Joy A. Okonye BSN, RN, CCRN

Anesthesia Provider, Abbott Northwestern Hospital

Nadine Salmon MSN, BSN, RN-BC, IBCLC

SME Writer, Clinical Nursing, Relias


January 2019


This study was published independently from Relias Institute.