Andreas Herpich


Andreas Herpich

Elisabeth-Kübler-Ross-Akademie® for further education and research from the HOSPIZ, Stuttgart





Research and Education of cultural competence in Hospice and Palliative Care


The need for support from hospice and palliative care (HPC) services by minority ethnic groups is increasing in Germany. In Stuttgart for example in 2014, 42,2% of registered inhabitants had a migration background compared to 37,2% in 2000. A review of international literature revealed the lack of cultural competence by the HPC providers as one of the main problems.

My personal project seeks to address the question of what are the main cultural competences in HPC for those working in Germany today, and whether these competencies can be developed into a training program for HPC staff.

Qualitative methodology using Grounded theory was used to explore cultural competences. Data was collected from seven interviews and one focus group. The interviews explored the experience of those working in HPC services from different disciplines, as well as one patient with Arabian ethnicity and one relative of a deceased patient from an African background. The focus group consisted of a HPC service team who were caring for an Asian migrant.

Core competencies emerged from the qualitative data and related to personal skills (perception, openness and empathy), teamworking skills (exchange of information and people-centered care) and skills in the interactions with carers and patients (communication, relationship building). The results were used to develop a training program for HPC staff. Evaluation of a pilot workshop showed that the training of a trans-cultural attitude, which focuses on building human relationships beyond cultural differences, was the most important skill for the participants.

The research was conducted only at one place in Germany with limited participants. Nevertheless the study and the workshop showed, that an education for cultural competence should have primarily the goal to encourage palliative care specialists to overcome the distance to people with an unfamiliar cultural background.