Patients at Birmingham St Mary’s Hospice have taken part in important academic research about the economics of end of life care.

Economic projects often focus on measuring improvements to physical or mental health, but for patients receiving palliative care, other things might be more important, such as dignity, or having time to prepare for the end of life. Professor Jo Coast and her team at University of Birmingham aimed to investigate how economists could better measure the impact of end of life care.

Patients at Birmingham St Mary’s Hospice talked through their thoughts about the important aspects of care. Although this questionnaire had been tested on the public, it was important to ask patients about their views to see whether there were differences when facing a terminal illness, and whether it was feasible for patients to complete the task. This, along with information from other organisations, has provided researchers with a stronger way to measure the economic evaluation of interventions at the end of life.

Hospice patients’ involvement in the research was led by Dr Christina Radcliffe, Consultant in Palliative Medicine at the Hospice. Christina said: “It’s great to be able to offer the chance to be involved in research to our patients by working in partnership with researchers at the University of Birmingham. We hope that this work will add to the evidence of benefit for palliative support.”

This research is part of a larger project by University of Birmingham focussing on the economics of end of life.

Fifteen key messages were revealed as a result of this research project. The messages include:

Economists involved in this research agree that the impact of end of life care on friends and family should be included when services are evaluated. Doing so will require more complicated economic methods to be used.

Policy-makers are prepared to give family and friends a greater share of resources and attach greater importance to formal bereavement support.

An important factor (as judged by the public and policy-makers) was that good communication with and by health professionals is vital.

For more information about the project Economics of End of Life Care click here.