Excellence of research by Cicely Saunders Institute of Palliative Care recognised

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This week saw the research and education centre do extremely well in the 2014 results of the Research Excellence Framework (REF) – a system for assessing the quality of research in UK higher education institutions.

As well as informing funding allocations, the REF provides accountability for public investment in research, demonstrates its benefits, and provides important reputational yardsticks and benchmarking information about the research performance of UK universities.

For 2014, the research of 52,061 academic staff from 154 UK universities was peer-reviewed by a series of panels comprising UK and international experts, and external users of research.

King’s has risen to 6th position nationally in the ‘power’ ranking (‘power’ takes into account both the quality and the quantity of research activity) and to 7th position for quality.

The Cicely Saunders Institute of Palliative Care and Rehabilitation at King’s is the first purpose built institute in the world for research into palliative care. The Institute brings together academics, healthcare professionals, community organisations, patients and carers in one centre and acts as the hub for a network of international research. It offers high quality palliative care solutions to patients and their families, as well as providing education, patient information and support.

Out of the palliative care research from the Cicely Saunders Institute submitted for assessment, 43% was judged to be ‘world-leading’ (4*) and 47% as ‘internationally excellent’ (3*).

Professor Irene Higginson, Director of the Cicely Saunders Institute, said: “The cutting edge multidisciplinary research at the Cicely Saunders Institute, fostered by the multi-faculty environment of King’s, helps to improve the quality of palliative care offered to patients, families and the wider community, as demonstrated in these REF 2014 results.” 

One of the highly commended research case study included in the REF assessment is Professor Higginson’s involvement in the creation of the Palliative care Outcome Scale (POS), which has helped reshape the way palliative care is delivered across the world. 

The POS project developed a standard questionnaire which uncovers a patient’s experience of pain, symptoms, anxieties, their quality of care and their ability – along with their families and friends – to live worthwhile lives. The work has revolutionised the way practitioners assess patients’ needs and the POS scale has been translated into 28 languages across four continents.

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