How we’re leading the way in end of life research

The launch of our research impact report this week shines a light on the difference Marie Curie-funded research is making, and highlights the importance of involving patients, carers and the public in our work.

It’s still true in 2017 that end of life and palliative care remains an under-funded area of research – despite being such a pressing concern for our ageing population and its complex needs. 

To tackle the knowledge gap, we decided more than five years ago to increase funding in the area. We are the largest charitable funder of palliative and end of life care research and in 2014, for example, we funded £1 in every £5 spent on end of life care research in the UK.

Our annual research impact report is an opportunity to take stock and reflect on how our work is helping the people we support. So how has our work had a positive impact over the past year? 

Some highlights

 

  • 68 papers were published in peer-reviewed journals
  • 95 instances of informing policy and clinical practice were reported by our researchers
  • Marie Curie-funded researchers engaged in collaborations in 15 countries around the globe

We’ve funded researchers across the country to address some of the core issues being faced by people living with terminal illness.

This work is already proving fruitful. To cite just one example: with the assistance of Marie Curie funding Dr Jeff Round, who carried out his PhD at the Marie Curie Palliative Research Department, University College London, produced work looking into the vital issue of the cost of caring for people with a range of cancers. His work was the first of its kind to look at the costs of unpaid carers. It showed significant costs to society, with a high proportion being borne by unpaid carers. His publication was awarded Research Paper of the Year 2015 in the journal Palliative Medicine.

Getting involved

The impact report also shows the role of our research in giving people, including the public, carers and people living with a terminal illness, an opportunity to take part in our studies – and help to improve palliative and end of life care.

This year, 4,432 people took part in our studies (195 of them were recruited to take part from Marie Curie Hospices). Their experiences play a vital role in palliative and end of life care research projects.

What’s more, this level of participation shows that research with people living with terminal illness and their informal and professional carers is possible. Contrary to what some professionals assume, people do want to take part in research – even at such a difficult time in their lives. Getting involved gives them an opportunity to help improve palliative and end of life care for others.