Research is an integral part of palliative care

Research is the only way to continuously improve the provision of care for patients and their loved ones.

This naturally also applies to patients with advanced and progressive diseases. Therefore, research has to be an integral part of palliative care. Next to clinical care and education, it is a pillar of our identity as an academic institution at the Department of Palliative Medicine.

In the special situation of palliative care patients, research must of course be carried out very carefully and ethically justifiably, with the utmost respect for patients and their loved ones.

The challenges in palliative care research are not only to address the vulnerability of the patient group. Especially in research at the end of life it is often not possible to interview the patients themselves or to contact them several times over a longer period of time. For this reason, loved ones or the clinical personnel are then asked for an assessment. Particular consideration is given to the current situation of the loved ones when they are involved in accompanying and caring for the patient or when the assessment takes place after the death of the patient.

As in palliative care itself, research in this field revolves around patients and their loved ones and, therefore, has to be interdisciplinary and multi-professional. In addition to medical doctors, researchers at the department include psychologists, social education workers and health scientists.

Research in palliative care relies on cooperation due to the special situation of the patients and the resulting methodological challenges. The Department of Palliative Medicine has taken on this task and successfully established several internal and external, partly inter-faculty, collaborations and research networks.

The research priorities that have developed in recent years can be grouped into three thematic Areas:

  • health services  research
  • education research