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International palliative care research priorities: A systematic review

  • Hasson, Felicity1
  • Nicholson, Emma2
  • Muldrew, Deborah1
  • Bamidele, Olufikayo3
  • Payne, Sheila4
  • McIlfatrick, Sonja1
  • 1 Ulster University, Shore Road, Newtownabbey, BT37 0QB, Northern Ireland , Newtownabbey (United Kingdom)
  • 2 University College Dublin, Belfield, Dublin 4, Ireland , Dublin 4 (Ireland)
  • 3 University of Hull, Hull, HU6 7RZ, England , Hull (United Kingdom)
  • 4 Lancaster University, LA14YX, Lancaster, UK , Lancaster (United Kingdom)
Published Article
BMC Palliative Care
BioMed Central
Publication Date
Feb 03, 2020
DOI: 10.1186/s12904-020-0520-8
Springer Nature


BackgroundThere has been increasing evidence and debate on palliative care research priorities and the international research agenda. To date, however, there is a lack of synthesis of this evidence, examining commonalities, differences, and gaps. To identify and synthesize literature on international palliative care research priorities originating from Western countries mapped to a quality assessment framework.MethodsA systematic review of several academic and grey databases were searched from January 2008–June 2019 for studies eliciting research priorities in palliative care in English. Two researchers independently reviewed, critically appraised, and conducted data extraction and synthesis.ResultsThe search yielded 10,235 articles (academic databases, n = 4108; grey literature, n = 6127), of which ten were included for appraisal and review. Priority areas were identified: service models; continuity of care; training and education; inequality; communication; living well and independently; and recognising family/carer needs and the importance of families. Methodological approaches and process of reporting varied. There was little representation of patient and caregiver driven agendas. The priorities were mapped to the Donabedian framework for assessing quality reflecting structure, process and outcomes and key priority areas.ConclusionsLimited evidence exists pertaining to research priorities across palliative care. Whilst a broad range of topics were elicited, approaches and samples varied questioning the credibility of findings. The voice of the care provider dominated, calling for more inclusive means to capture the patient and family voice. The findings of this study may serve as a template to understand the commonalities of research, identify gaps, and extend the palliative care research agenda.

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