Thursday, January 22, 2009

HPM Issues 2009:
#5 Continue Advancing Good Palliative Care Research

(This is the first in a series of 5 posts about issues in hospice & palliative medicine that I think will be important in the next year. Feel free to disagree!)*

#5 Continue Advancing Good Palliative Care Research

Since palliative medicine is such a young field our research base is relatively small but the last few years have produced some excellent research with the potential to impact clinical care, communication methods and policy matters. We have two major journals dedicated to our field in Journal of Palliative Medicine and the Journal of Pain & Symptom Management (soon to be renamed?) that publish relevant clinical articles along with some basic science research. The AAHPM, CAPC, and the National Palliative Care Research Center have organized resources and tools for the established and beginning researcher.

Palliative care oriented articles are also being published in core medical journals with robust support from JAMA, Archives of Internal Medicine and Annals of Internal Medicine. I hope to see this trend continue. But even with this growth it is critical to realize palliative medicine interventions have not quite proven themselves on the evidence based medicine stage as this recent call to arms article noted.

On my wish list for this item: A resurgence of the community based hospice research. With all the care being delivered by hospice agencies, we are missing out on lots of observational data because of the barriers to beginning research from non-academic medical institutions. The Population Based Palliative Care Research Network started by Jean Kutner has been the leader in this field, but I have not seen this well integrated into many of the other hospice related organizations. I think PoPCRN is a great idea and I hope to see it stronger and more visible in the next year.

*Thanks to Dr. RW for the idea.

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