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Translational Research Priorities in Palliative Care Project

Over the past decade, palliative care (PC) has grown enormously in the United States, and most communities now have some form of PC available. The research base has also expanded dramatically, with thousands of articles published in just the last 10 years. As an indicator of this research productivity, over 300 systematic reviews on different aspects of PC have been published over the past decade. What is lacking in the field, however, is a clear agenda for what knowledge is needed to make PC more accessible, more effective, and more cost-efficient. As the field is poised for future development, this is a very opportune time to focus on the question: What areas of research are the most critical, not only to advance our basic knowledge about PC but to further improve our ability to provide it?

Building on strengths developed at Cornell over the past decade, the aim of this project is to connect the concerns of real-world stakeholders – providers, patients, families, and the business and policy communities – to what scientists are doing. The overarching goal of this project is as follows: To generate an agenda for applied research that will make a difference over the coming five years and to begin pursuing that agenda through several innovative studies.

The project builds on a method developed by the Cornell Institute for Translational Research on Aging to connect researchers to the eventual end-users of the research knowledge – in particular providers of services and policymakers. The hallmark of this method is the “Research-to-Practice Consensus Model.” In conferences and workshops, researchers come together with those who are most likely to use or be affected by research findings. Working closely together, the research and practice representatives forge an agenda for applied research and dissemination that will meet the needs of those organizing, delivering, and receiving services, while still serving to advance scientific knowledge.

Based on this model, the Translational Research Priorities in Palliative Care Project will create an agenda for research over five years of the project, based on the informed opinions of providers, consumers, and policymakers. Rather than focusing only on an academic consensus process, the goal will be to unite the research priorities of scientists with those who are providing, planning, or using PC.

To achieve these goals, project accomplishments will include:

1. Conducting a synthesis of major review articles in palliative care to determine their recommendations for top research priorities.

2. Surveying “thought leaders” in the field regarding their views of research priorities to improve palliative care.

3. Holding focus groups and forums where stakeholders – including practitioners, palliative care administrators, and patients and families – will critique the academic research recommendations and provide input into a research agenda.

4. Awarding pilot grants to projects based on the researcher – stakeholder recommendations.

The Translational Research Priorities in Palliative Care Project is Funded by The Lawrence and Rebecca Stern Family Foundation.