Improving Knowledge of Palliative Care in Rural South Dakota Through Community Education



Palliative Care, Community education, Rural


Purpose: To explore the effectiveness of education on increasing knowledge of palliative care and how to access palliative care services among community members.

Design: A descriptive study using a retrospective survey was conducted after in-person educational events on palliative care. This study used the definition of rural and frontier provided by the South Dakota Department of Health which is based on the US Census Bureau population estimates (2020).

Sample: Educational events occurred in 17 communities across South Dakota with 256 community members. Of which, 166 people completed the survey.

Methods: Wilcoxon signed rank test was performed to evaluate for change in palliative care knowledge. Fisher’s Exact Test was utilized to analyze for an association between past palliative and hospice care use, palliative care knowledge, and confidence in finding palliative care services.

Findings: The majority of educational events took place in rural or frontier locations with 85% of participants and 95.2% of survey respondents attending in a rural or frontier location. Most of the survey respondents (61.5%) were a caregiver of someone with a serious health condition, while 13.3% had a serious health condition and 3% were both a caregiver and had a serious health condition. After completion of the community education program, community members demonstrated a statistically significant improvement in their knowledge of palliative care and their confidence in being able to locate palliative care services, p <.001. Having used palliative care services was significantly associated with palliative care knowledge and confidence in accessing these services, p < .001.

Conclusion: Performing education individualized to each community increased knowledge regarding palliative care and how to access these services. Additional needs of community members were discovered which is critically important to address as the rural population ages and is more likely to be living with serious illness(es).

Keywords: palliative care, community education, rural



Author Biographies

  • Mari Perrenoud RN, MSA, CHPN, Avera Sacred Heart

    Palliative Care Manager


  • Sarah Mollman PhD, RN, CHPN, CNE, South Dakota State University

    Associate Dean of Research, College of Nursing

  • Theresa Garren-Grubbs DNP, RN, CMSRN, CNL, South Dakota State University

    Clinical Assistant Professor, College of Nursing

  • Charlene Berke BS, RT, R(T), ARRT, Avera Sacred Heart

    Director, Avera Health

  • Diane Inch M-PAC, M-Ag.Ed, Psy.M., Horizon Healthcare

    Physician Assistant