End-of-life care competencies have been perceived as important and essential, so it has been suggested that end-of-life care be studied in undergraduate medical education. However, end-of-life care curriculum has mostly focused on acquisition of knowledge and skills rather than attitudes. Therefore, we aimed to explore whether education about death affects medical students' attitudes towards care for dying patients and perception of death anxiety, meaning in life, and self-esteem. A total of 15 first- or second-year medical students were surveyed with questionnaires before and after completing a 6-week death education course. Paired data analysis showed that participants' attitudes towards caring for terminally ill patients and their caregivers improved significantly (t=-2.84, p=0.013) with an effect size of 0.73. In contrast, no significant changes were found in death anxiety, meaning in life, or self-esteem. All participants agreed that formal teaching about death and dying must be encouraged in medical schools. Our results suggest that death education may positively influence attitudes towards end-of-life care. Although replication with larger samples is necessary, this preliminary finding may support the importance of developmentally appropriate end-of-life care education in medical schools.
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