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The development of the core EPEC Curriculum began in 1997, a time when the field of medicine had generated increased capacity in palliative care and symptom management but was still struggling to develop a balance between curative approaches to treatment and the need to ameliorate suffering in chronic or incurable diseases.

In order to help achieve that balance, Linda L. Emanuel, MD, PhD, Charles F. von Gunten, MD, PhD, and Frank D. Ferris, MD, worked with national palliative care leaders to develop the EPEC curriculum. For greater impact, teaching of the EPEC curriculum is based on adult education theory that emphasizes interactive techniques and the application of social science principles that can lead to changes in social expectations and behavioral norms.

Topics covered in the curriculum include goals of care; advance care planning; comprehensive assessment; communicating bad news; pain management; depression; anxiety and delirium; withdrawing/withholding treatment; medical futility; physician-assisted suicide; last hours of living; legal issues; gaps in palliative care; elements and models of end-of-life care; psychosocial issues; sudden illness; symptoms. The material is presented in 16 modules and four plenaries that incorporate the use of slides and videos.

More recently, the EPEC Curriculum was adapted to expand the scope and range of palliative care by introducing it into new settings, broadening the definition to include the entire spectrum of illness, and referring patients for palliative care earlier in the disease process. Our medical specialty partners include EPEC - Oncology, EPEC - Emergency Medicine, and EPEC - Geriatrics/Long-term Care. We have also sought to extend the EPEC model by working with partners to adapt our curriculum to the needs of specific populations.

Linda Emanuel, MD, PhD, Principal of EPEC

This effort has led to the development of projects such as APPEAL (A Progressive Palliative Care Education Curriculum for the Care of African Americans at Life’s End); EPEC - Roman Catholic; EPEC for Veterans; EPEC - Caregiver (communication and navigation topics for patients and family caregivers); and EPEC - India.

The core curriculum is taught as a live conference and is also available via a distance learning platform. The latest version of the EPEC Curriculum is available for purchase on our products page.

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Last updated: 11/5/2014
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