Augusto Caraceni, Former Vice-president of the European Association for Palliative Care (EAPC), Vice-chair of the EAPC Research Network and Medical Director, Fondazione IRCCS Istituto Nazionale dei Tumori, Milan, Italy.
Over the next few days former presidents of the EAPC will share their thoughts about palliative care. Professor Caraceni begins with his thoughts on the importance of research.
Research into the control of symptoms, quality of life and across the full spectrum of the multidisciplinary care of patients affected by incurable illnesses and of the dying has been one of the core elements of the development of palliative care since its very beginning. After founding St Christopher’s Hospice in south-east London in 1967, Cicely Saunders wrote that St Christopher’s was not only a place for delivering care but also to offer education and do research. But even before that in 1965, she said: “We want to plan and carry out research in the relief of distress, such as has not been done anywhere, so far as I have been able to discover.”
Almost 50 years later, the recognition of palliative care as a specialist field in health care and as a medical discipline finds continuing evidence in the wealth of professional contributions from nursing and medical sciences, as well as from psychosocial and public health disciplines. The EAPC was among the first to recognise and give voice to the need for developing, disseminating and funding specifically palliative care research. The EAPC Research Network (EAPC-RN) was initiated in 1996 by Franco De Conno and Geoffrey Hanks and now organises the biennial EAPC World Research Congress, which follows the more general EAPC World Congress, and is regarded as the most important international event of this kind. More recently, The European Palliative Care Research Centre has been associated with the EAPC-RN.
More and more resources are now available in the European Community funding plans; we have seen growing opportunities for palliative care research in the European Union 6th and 7th Framework programmes and we hope for more in the next plan which is designated as Horizon 2020. As a clinician and a researcher and as a member of the EAPC from its start, I see that clinical research in palliative care is still underdeveloped and yet too few resources are allocated to it at national and international levels. In celebrating the 25th anniversary of the EAPC my first thoughts, as a researcher, go to the needs of patients. Our response to their needs is clinical competence and high quality palliative care services. Both require skilled and competent professional caregivers. Our response to patients’ needs is also to do research to improve care for those whose pain and other symptoms are inadequately managed. The whole field of palliative care bears a responsibility for this.
Each one of us who shares these goals and who works for them daily cannot but feel at home within the EAPC. It is thus the responsibility of the EAPC to maintain our core principles and values and to make sure that that those involved in palliative care continue to feel welcomed and a valuable part of the organisation.
To find out more…
- The 8th World Research Congress of the European Association for Palliative Care. Early Bird registration closes 1 March 2014!
- The 14th World Congress of the European Association for Palliative Care.
- EAPC Research Network.
- The European Palliative Care Research Centre
A very Happy New Year to all our readers from the EAPC head office and social media team…