Translating outcomes in palliative care

Palliative care outcomes

Too often there is a divide between the domains of research and clinical care.

While there may be some intersection as input or outputs are sought in the form of translating laboratory findings to the bedside.

Even those who are clinician-researchers frequently need to step away from the bed to don the metaphorical lab coat and only then do they assume their research role.

By contrast a unique team of clinicians, research-clinicians and researchers has been established in the Victorian Comprehensive Cancer Centre (VCCC) palliative medicine research group.

Situated on the hospital campus of St Vincent’s, as part of the Department of Medicine and Radiology, the researchers are embedded, have coffee with, have so called ‘water cooler’ moments with clinical trialists and clinicians.

Researchers attend, recruit and update clinical team meetings and clinicians attend a weekly informal research meeting where ideas are raised, projects are discussed, and strengths and weaknesses of different methods to answer key clinical questions are argued.

Some examples of outputs of this important collaboration include:

  • A music therapist who works with patients who are dying and their families, and who sought ways to examine the impact of her therapeutic consultation including a health economic evaluation to support the sustainability of her service.
  • A real-time clinical problem of how to balance competing need on a waiting list for palliative care beds has developed into a series of studies to develop a tool to prioritise palliative care services. This has become the focus for a PhD student who has garnered international participation in the steps towards development of a tool, and is working with the State Government in an implementation process into palliative care services.
  • A program of research examining the care of people in prison and who are dying has developed in response to clinicians highlighting particular challenges in caring for this vulnerable group.

We are quite sure this highly productive clinician-researcher-clinician relationship is something to celebrate as it facilitates an ongoing research pipeline of both researchers and highly relevant topics, facilitates clinician mentorship, builds collaborative relationships and maximises research impact through immediate translation of findings into patient care.

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