Continuing professional development programmes for rural nurses involved in palliative care delivery: An integrative review
Purpose: To review published studies evaluating the impact of continuing professional development (CPD) programmes on rural nurses palliative care capabilities in order to inform the development of targeted learning activities for this population.
Design: An integrative review.
Methods: Searches of key electronic databases and the World Wide Web was undertaken using key words, followed by hand searching for relevant articles. All studies were reviewed by two authors using a critical appraisal tool and level of evidence hierarchy.
Results: The search strategies generated 74 articles, with 10 studies meeting the inclusion criteria. All of these studies evaluated palliative care CPD programmes involving rural nurses which focused on increasing palliative care capabilities. The evidence generated by this review was limited by the absence of randomised controlled trials. A level III-1 study, with a small sample size provided the highest level of evidence, but the lack of control negated the investigators' capacity to confirm causality. Few studies measured the impact of CPD on the quality of care or utilised novel technology to address the tyranny of distance. Despite, these limitations valuable insights into the barriers and facilitators to engaging rural nurses in palliative care learning opportunities were identified.
Conclusions: Evidence that CPD impacts positively on patient and families outcomes is necessary to sustain an on-going investment in learning activities. In order to optimise the opportunities afforded by emerging web-based technology rural nurses' need to develop and maintain their computer competencies. Further investigation of the impact of specialist clinical placements on rural nurses' palliative care capabilities is also indicated.