Review of palliative care research highlights research gaps

Categories: Research.

A systematic review of palliative care research on the island of Ireland over the past 10 years has been published by the All Ireland Institute of Hospice and Palliative Care (AIIHPC) and the University of Ulster.

The report provides an overview of key trends and themes in relation to the type and nature of research studies published in the area of palliative and end of life care. As well as identifying the core themes of the decade of research, the review also looked at the strengths and limitations of the research methods used.

The review found that studies were largely descriptive in design, with a wide variation in sample size and a lack of use of recognised standard measures and consideration of key outcomes. The authors suggest that an increase in methodological rigour, with a focus on randomised controlled trials and systematic reviews is necessary to establish the evidence base for best practice. The review authors also note an absence of user/carer involvement in palliative care research in Ireland.

Promisingly, the study did find that there has been an increase in the amount of palliative care research over the past 10 years – over 72% of studies included in the review were published within the previous four years.

The study concludes by highlighting the need to ‘maximise existing resources, leverage expertise and capability, and build critical mass in order to produce excellent, internationally-competitive research’.

The study, led by Dr Sonja McIlfatrick, reader in nursing research and development at University of Ulster and head of research at the AIIHPC, is part of a project which aims to identify the research priorities for palliative and end of life care on the island, as perceived by service users, carers, professionals, and policy makers.

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