Dr Christina Radcliffe is part of our team here at the Hospice and she'd like to share with you how we're involved in improving end-of-life care with research...

When I tell people that I am involved in research at Birmingham St Mary’s Hospice, they sometimes look quite surprised. Some people wonder why we would need to do research in palliative care. Others express that it must be difficult to ask people to get involved in research if they are unwell themselves. Still other people ask me whether any palliative care actually has evidence behind it!

I love to address the misconceptions about research because in my experience patients, carers, staff and volunteers have all been really supportive of research and are keen to be involved.

Our patients are extremely altruistic and will often contribute to research even if they are very unwell and when the research will not directly benefit them, but will be of use to future patients. Like all areas of healthcare, we are always trying to get more evidence to support looking after people in the best way possible.

Patients often want to be involved in research because it gives them a real sense of satisfaction, helps them to feel that they are giving back and helping others. Which they really are! I am always impressed by the time people are willing to give to help us.

As a hospice we have been very excited to get involved in some national and international research projects recently. Last year, for example, we were involved in a research project looking at different regimes of painkillers for patients with cancer, investigating what worked best and fastest to control pain.

We have also been involved in a feasibility study about hydration through a drip at the end of life. We are waiting for feedback from the coordinating team about the results of this study, but watch this space as the results may change practice.

We have a small research team at the Hospice who have been working hard recently to set up a new national research project looking at outcomes in patients referred to palliative care teams. More on that in the next blog.

We are always interested in hearing from people who want to be involved in research. If you are a patient or carer, and would like to take part in research, please do let your nurse or doctor know. If we approach you about research and you really feel that it’s not for you, don’t worry, we won’t be offended!

The results of research studies at the Hospice are often published in medical journals and can really help with care of patients as well as awareness-raising of palliative care as a speciality, and the Hospice as a place of care. So thank you to everyone who has already been involved, in any way, with research at Birmingham St Mary’s, and here’s hoping that we can do more research in the future.

To find out more from FAQs to previous research studies we’ve been involved in, please visit our Research Section.