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:
- education research
For the German Cancer Aid (Deutsche Krebshilfe), the interlocking of oncological and palliative medical expertise for the best possible care of seriously ill and dying patients with a tumor disease is an important concern. Therefore, it supports a project whose goal is to develop a best practice strategy for the structured integration of specialized palliative care in a Comprehensive Cancer Center (CCC) using scientific methods. This includes the integration of palliative medicine into the course of treatment as well as into the research and teaching activities of the individual CCCs.
In the first project phase (from 2014 to 2017), a scientifically accompanied survey on the status of integration of palliative medicine in the individual centers was conducted. Building on this, it was agreed on standards, e.g. on the type, scope and timing of the involvement of palliative care, quality indicators were tested, research questions and projects were developed and teaching concepts were worked out.
Palliative Medicine SOPs (Standard Operating Procedures), created by the Working Group for Palliative Medicine.
The second project phase (2017 to 2020) deals among other things with the implementation of best practice recommendations, the implementation and evaluation of the jointly developed SOPs, joint documentation for the identification and evaluation of quality indicators and the development of a needs-oriented medical education and training program.
The project is funded by the Deutsche Krebshilfe.
Dr. rer.biol. hum Julia Berendt
Martina Börner, organization, administration, correspondence
PD Dr. med. Susanne Gahr, physician
Dr. med. Peter Stachura, physician (until 2016)
Marietta Müller, physician (until 2017)
Julia Berendt M.Sc., research associate (until 2018)
Sarah Lödel M.Sc., research associate (until 2020)
Ingrid Gheith, organization, administration, correspondence (until 2020)