Investment in palliative care research critical

Investment in palliative care research critical

A blog post written by Palliative Care Australia

Ahead of the 2021 Oceanic Palliative Care Conference, Palliative Care Australia (PCA) Chair Professor Meera Agar has said that a reorienting of palliative care services – to ensure palliative care is available to all Australians who need it, now and in the future – will require strong attention to palliative care research, increased state and federal advocacy, as well as changes to investment and training.

“Investment in palliative care – including services, research, knowledge translation, and advocacy efforts – makes good health and economic sense.” said Professor Agar.

To achieve this, and to continue driving change, palliative care should be a national health priority.

“Governments need to take action if every Australian living with a life-limiting illness is to have equitable access to quality needs-based palliative care at any point in their illness journey. There needs to be a whole of government approach to robust population and needs-based planning and adequate funding of palliative care and specialist palliative care services.”

“We also need to see a greater increase investment in palliative care and end-of-life research using a range of methodologies and availability of data which can be translated directly to inform clinical practice.”

Improvements in technology, medicine, and health care mean that people are living longer with expanding treatment options, changing disease patterns, and increasing multi-morbidities.

“This has implications for palliative care and our sector needs to embrace and work within this changing demographic and medical terrain to deal with the increase in demand.”

“National events like the biennial Oceanic Palliative Care Conference, give PCA and its member organisations/affiliates, an even greater opportunity to ensure we are informed of contemporary research and its implications for policy and practice. This in turn ensures we are taking clear messages based on best evidence to our respective governments about what needs to happen to ensure a sustainable future for palliative care.”

Professor Agar also highlights presentations at 21OPCC are based on a broad range of methodologies, and importantly the value of qualitative research and its contribution to our understanding of the complex and contextual experiences of people receiving palliative care will be showcased in the program.

“Inequitable access to palliative care in Australia is worrying, and unless there is a significant change in the way it is funded and delivered combined with funding and building capacity to do the research needed to address evidence and service gaps, these inequities will continue to grow.”

“Australians with a life-limiting illness should be able to access quality palliative care no matter their postcode, diagnosis, ethnicity, socio-economic status or place of care, to enable them to have the best quality of life for as long as possible.”

If we are to meet the palliative care needs of the future, Professor Agar says we need greater collaboration, commitment, and innovation.

In future years we hope that greater investment in palliative care research and its translation into practice will inform better care. It will also have resulted in better co-designed monitoring and evaluation plans that have effectively paved the way for the collection of nationally consistent and linked data across jurisdictions and locations of care. This will see an improvement in population and needs-based mapping and planning of services and appropriate allocation of funding.

The Oceanic Palliative Care Conference provides the opportunity to facilitate knowledge and skills transfer across the Oceanic Region and beyond, and Palliative Care Australia invites anyone with an interest in palliative care to register for 21OPCC before 7 September.

Profile picture of Meera Agar



The above interview with Professor Meera Agar, Chair, Palliative Care Australia (pictured left) was conducted by Jeremy Henderson, National Communications Director


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The views and opinions expressed in Palliative Perspectives are those of the authors and are not necessarily supported by CareSearch, Flinders University and/or the Australian Government Department of Health.