Palliative Medicine: History of the journal and vision for the future

Catherine Walshe, Editor in Chief, and Debbie Ashby, Editorial Manager, ‘Palliative Medicine’, contribute to our special series of blog posts to celebrate the EAPC’s 25th anniversary

Catherine Walshe

Catherine Walshe

Debbie Ashby

Debbie Ashby

Think back to January 1987. What were you doing then? What do you mean you can’t quite remember? Surely you recall it as the date the first copy of ‘Palliative Medicine’ landed on your doorstep? And just as ‘Palliative Medicine’ was celebrating its 25 years in January 2012, now it’s the turn of the EAPC to celebrate its 25th anniversary. The journal, and the EAPC, were relatively ‘mature’ when it was first proposed that ‘Palliative Medicine’ became the official peer reviewed research journal of the EAPC, but we have been fruitfully collaborating since 2003.

Our beginnings as a journal were modest, just two issues a year until 1989, but a slow and steady growth in size since then up to four issues in 1989, six in 1997, eight in 2003 and now 10 issues a year from January 2013. The journal has had four editors in chief in that time, Derek Doyle (1987-1992), Stephen Kirkham (1993-2002), Geoff Hanks (2002-2011), and now Catherine Walshe.

Sadly we don’t have data for all the years of the journal to track the growth in research and submissions in this area. We do know that in 1993 the journal received 90 submissions, rather different from the 382 original submissions we received last year. We truly are an international journal though – in the past five years we received 1,729 original submissions from 54 countries. Of these, 32% are from Europe (top countries for submission are the Netherlands, Germany and Italy), 31% from the UK, 8% from Australia, 7% from the US and 5% from Canada. Clearly, being the research journal of the EAPC doesn’t just mean we publish European research. But our association does mean that we have published some of the most important position papers from the EAPC – from the Task Force on Euthanasia and Physician Assisted Suicide in 2003 to the Dementia White Paper this year.

So what of our vision for the future? Palliative care is an expanding research field, and we are keen to reflect that by continuing to publish a wide variety of multidisciplinary research of the highest possible quality. We want the research we publish to be used – to influence practice, theory and policy – so that ultimately we can all provide better care to patients and their families at the end of life. We are keen to encourage high quality submissions from a wider variety of countries; we all have much to learn from each other. We will continue to have a focus on special editions in areas of interest – currently we are calling for papers addressing provision of palliative care in critical care settings.

At the EAPC Conference in Prague in June 2013, ‘Palliative Medicine’ launched a ‘Paper of the Year’ award to recognise the contribution of research to palliative care practice, policy, theory and methods.  The editors are currently in the process of judging papers from the 2013 issue and will announce this year’s winner at the EAPC Conference in Lleida, Spain, in June 2014. We certainly don’t intend to stand still, and suggestions to the journal are always welcome – try tweeting us @palliativemedj

And January 1987?  I (Catherine) was cycling through the snow as a district nurse student in Manchester – oblivious to the birth of ‘Palliative Medicine’ but probably on my way to deliver what I hope was research-based care to patients.

Did you know?…
EAPC members and registered users of the EAPC website can download free copies of selected articles published in ‘Palliative Medicine’ from the EAPC website.

  • Click here to download a previously published ‘Editor’s choice’ article.
  • Click here to download an EAPC-originated article. (Just follow the instructions in the top right-hand corner of the EAPC homepage to register or login, and scroll down to download the article of your choice).


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One Response to Palliative Medicine: History of the journal and vision for the future

  1. Pingback: Palliative Medicine: History of the journal and vision for the future | EAPC Blog | All Things Palliative - Article Feed

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