European Association for Palliative Care 2016 Post-Doc Research Award – Setting a research agenda: From nursing to Cochrane


Last week at University College Dublin in Ireland, more than 1,100 people from 47 countries met together to showcase their latest research in vital areas of palliative care. One of the highlights was the presentation of this year’s EAPC Researcher Awards, which recognize and support the work of scientists and clinicians who make an outstanding contribution to palliative care research. For the first time, three separate awards were made: Early Researcher, Post-Doc and Clinical Impact.

Here, Dr Bridget Candy, Marie Curie Palliative Care Research Department, University College London Division of Psychiatry, UK, reflects on her research career and winning the 2016 Post-Doc Research Award.

Dr Bridget Candy receives the 2016 EAPC Post Doc Research award from Prof Christoph Ostgathe

Dr Bridget Candy receives the 2016 EAPC Post-Doc Research Award from Prof Christoph Ostgathe

My research career started because as a nurse I wanted to know whether what I was doing was the best approach. The research I now do in palliative care has never provided definitive answers; instead, it often identifies knowledge gaps and in doing so sets research agendas.

When I started out as a researcher I recognized quite quickly the potential of systematic reviewing. This is providing clear messages about the reliable evidence available on a given topic. I first undertook systematic reviews in mental health working with Professor Stephen Stansfeld; one of the reviews, on work environment and mental health, has been cited over 1,000 times!

2016 Early Researcher Award ceremony: (L to R) Prof Stein Kaasa (Chair EAPC Research Network), Dr Bridget Candy, Dr Kirsten Wentlandt, Dr Martin Loučka and Prof Christoph Ostgathe (EAPC board member)

2016 EAPC Researcher Awards ceremony:
(L to R) Prof Stein Kaasa (Chair EAPC Research Network), Dr Bridget Candy, Dr Kirsten Wentlandt, Dr Martin Loučka and Prof Christoph Ostgathe (EAPC board member)

For the past nine years, I have worked in the Marie Curie Palliative Care Research Department at University College London (UCL) where I lead on systematic reviews. On several occasions, colleagues have questioned me, as I am not doing new research, on whether I find my work boring. My answers are always ‘whilst I am looking at what may already be known, I am seeking to make more of this knowledge,’ and ‘I still haven’t perfected how I undertake a systematic review.’

I see my research in several ways. One way is in seeking to answer the question on what is the current evidence on effect and safety of a drug treatment, such as for delirium; or a complex intervention, such as sexual dysfunction following cancer treatment. Another way is in making more of the method of systematic reviewing. This includes exploring methods to add the voice of the patient. This can help us to understand, through a systematic review, why some interventions work and others don’t. I started this investigation in my doctorate and in 2014 I was invited to present on it at the Cochrane Colloquium in India. My take-home message from the Colloquium in 2015 was the potential distortion that unpublished (and thereby not included) trial data can have, in a systematic review, on the conclusions generated. I am currently testing approaches to overcome this in my reviews.

I am very proud and honoured to receive the EAPC 2016 Post-Doc Research Award. This achievement though would not have been possible without the support and encouragement of others. In particular, the support from Dr Louise Jones, the ex-head of the UCL Marie Curie Palliative Care Research Department, and Professor Paddy Stone, the current head. This award is also a mark of international recognition of the contribution of systematic reviews in palliative care. I was initially daunted at presenting at an EAPC plenary, and also in contributing to the congress by co-chairing a scientific session. I hope my enthusiasm for palliative care research, including methods, shone through.

Candy B, Jackson KC, Jones L, Leurent B, Tookman A, King M. Drug therapy for delirium in terminally ill adult patients. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2012, Issue 11.

Candy B, Jones L, Vickerstaff V, Tookman A, King M. Interventions for sexual dysfunction following treatments for cancer in women. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2016, Issue 2.

Candy B (2014) The contribution of qualitative evidence to our understanding of the effectiveness of complex interventions. PhD thesis, University College London, UK.


  • Dr Bridget Candy email
  • Twitter: @bridgetcandy 
  • Twitter: @MCPCRD (Marie Curie Palliative Care Research Department)

Read more posts from the 2016 EAPC Researcher Award winners, Dr Kirsten Wentlandt and Dr Martin Loucka, and former award winners, on the EAPC Blog.

Abstracts for 9th EAPC World Research Congress available online
Palliative Medicine is delighted to publish the abstracts for 9th World Research Congress of the European Association for Palliative Care (EAPC). Download them from the June 2016 issue here.

Online submission for the 2017 EAPC Researcher Awards now open . . .
Find out more on the website of EAPC 2017 – 15th World Congress


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

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