Portugal: Regional palliative care forum meets and announces winner of the Ferraz Gonçalves Award

Categories: Research.

The Clinical Academic Forum of Palliative Care was established last year in the North region of Portugal to promote and facilitate collaboration between researchers and clinicians and develop a shared vision of the future development of palliative care.

With a total of 140 participants, the Forum organises three meetings a year with presentations from the coordinators of postgraduate courses in palliative care, PhD and MSc students, clinicians and researchers reporting on the latest research advances in the region. There is also place for group discussions to identify research barriers and opportunities locally.

The third meeting is took place yesterday (23 May) at Macedo de Cavaleiros, a city in the northeast corner of the country.

The Forum was established last year by Barbara Gomes, Research Fellow of the Cicely Saunders Institute, King’s College London, and Principal Investigator of the project that led to this initiative – the DINAMO Projecta(1), and Bruno Fonseca, nurse at the palliative care service at the Matosinhos Local Health Unit.

“The purpose of the Forum is to bring together researchers and clinicians to ensure we talk to each other and think jointly about the studies that are most needed, both scientifically and clinically,” explains Barbara Gomes.

“We rotate the location of our meetings to ensure greater access to all who would like to attend within the region. In this third meeting, we wanted to reach out to our clinical colleagues working in the most isolated rural areas.

“Unexpectedly, it will be our most well-attended meeting so far – we reached our maximum of 80 registrations. This is a great turnout, mostly due to the local clinical teams who are generously hosting the meeting and spread the message.”

The day’s program included an overview of the Northern studies presented at the latest national and European congresses, presentations of MSc projects and ongoing multi-centre studies, discussion groups to identify research priorities, and a visit to the local palliative care unit.

The Ferraz Gonçalves Award

The Forum coordinators also announced the winner of the Ferraz Gonçalves Award.

Established to honour the work of the founding director of the palliative care service at the Portuguese Cancer Institute in Porto and first president of the Portuguese Association of Palliative Care, the Ferraz Goncalves Award distinguishes an exceptionally good study conducted in the region in the last five years.

Helena Beca, a GP by background, received the award with a study entitled “Death in the Espinho Family Health Unit (2012): Personal and Family Experiences”.  

Bruno Fonseca, co-coordinator of the Forum, comments: “We were very fortunate to be able to create the forum and the award with funding from the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation and institutional support from the regional health authority and the Portuguese Association of Palliative Care.

“The awarded study describes nearly all the deaths that occurred in a family health unit in a one-year period.

“It combines information from clinical records, interviews with GPs and bereaved relatives to find that the overwhelming majority died with uncontrolled symptoms and no home care. None were asked where they would prefer to die; around two thirds died in hospital and one third at home.

“Unfortunately, this is the reality that we often encounter in our day-to-day clinical work, but up to now we had no evidence to show. This study has both scientific quality and clinical relevance, an example we hope others follow in the future so we can change things and improve care locally and beyond.”

For more information about the Forum please email maja.furlan_de_brito@kcl.ac.uk

  1. DINAMO is a five-year project led by King’s College London funded by the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation aiming to enhance advanced training and research to optimise home palliative care in Portugal. Principal Investigator: Barbara Gomes. Scientific Director: Irene J Higginson. Other members of DINAMO: Pedro L. Ferreira, Vera P. Sarmento, Helder Aguiar, Ana Lacerda, Rita Canario, Duarte Soares, Maja de Brito. Further information is available on The King’s College London website..

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