Measuring spiritual well-being among patients in Africa – EAPC Early Researcher Award 2012

Dr Lucy Selman, Research Associate, Cicely Saunders Institute, Department of Palliative Care, Policy and Rehabilitation, King’s College London, UK

Early Researcher Award

Dr Lucy Selman receives the 2012 Early Researcher Award and prize from Dr Franco De Conno (left) and Professor Geoffrey Hanks

In February this year I found out I’d been awarded the EAPC Early Researcher Award for 2012. My initial gratitude was somewhat dampened by the thought of giving a plenary presentation at the EAPC research congress in Trondheim! But although such a large audience of experts is a little intimidating, it was a real pleasure and honour to be given such an opportunity.

My research in recent years has been on the measurement of spiritual outcomes in palliative care, with my PhD research in this area focusing on sub-Saharan Africa. I was inspired to work in this field because of my personal interest in the spiritual aspects of life – I have been practising yoga since 2001– as well as recognition of the need to generate an evidence base for spiritual care.

My PhD project was a mixed-methods study involving a quantitative survey using the APCA African POS and Spirit 8  and qualitative interviews with patients and spiritual care providers. Survey findings highlighted the importance of having a sense of meaning in life to patients and showed that over 25% experience spiritual distress. Qualitative findings threw light on how the concepts of ‘feeling at peace’ and ‘feeling that life is worthwhile,’ used to measure spiritual well-being in the African POS, are interpreted by patients, and highlighted barriers to and facilitators of spiritual well-being in this population. I hope that findings from the study will inform the provision of spiritual care in Africa as well as the measurement of spiritual outcomes in palliative care more widely.

My PhD supervisors, Professor Irene Higginson and Dr Richard Harding, suggested that I apply for the EAPC award, and I encourage other supervisors to nominate their students and other researchers at early stages of their careers to apply next year. On the basis of the EAPC Early Researcher Award and my work with EAPC Spiritual Care Taskforce I have received funding from the Sir Halley Stewart Trust for a series of meetings to take forward research in spiritual care in palliative care. The first expert meeting is planned for October 2012, with a larger international conference planned for 2013. I am sure the award will catalyse further opportunities and I would like to thank the EAPC again for this recognition.

Find out more…
The Early Researcher Award (formerly Young Investigator Award) was created as an annual award by the EAPC in 2009. This award is designed to recognise the work of young (novice) scientists and clinicians in the field of palliative care who have recently made, or are currently making an outstanding contribution to research. It aims to highlight their personal career development and their potential for the future. The 2013 Early Researcher Award will be made at the 13th EAPC World Congress in Prague in 2013. Click here for more information and look out on this blog for updates.

This entry was posted in EAPC Researcher Awards, EAPC World Congresses, SPIRITUAL CARE and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Measuring spiritual well-being among patients in Africa – EAPC Early Researcher Award 2012

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