Palliative Care Interventions in Nursing Homes




Killebrew-Censits Chair in Undergraduate Education and Professor of Palliative Care

Project Summary

This summer I had the privilege of working with Dr. Mary Ersek, PhD, RN, FPCN and Joan Carpenter, PhD, CRNP, ACHPN to develop a systematic review of clinical trials investigating nursing home palliative care interventions. We want to find out whether palliative care interventions in nursing homes are associated with better outcomes at the end of life, and hopefully through this work, lay a groundwork for designing and implementing nursing home palliative care interventions in the future. By addressing the myriad of psychosocial, physical, and spiritual needs of the individual, palliative care attempts to provide holistic and patient and family-centered card that seeks to relieve suffering for patients with serious, progressive illness. We searched MEDLINE, EMBASE, and Cochrane’s CENTRAL databases from inception to July 2018, using key words like “palliative care,” “palliative nursing,” and “nursing homes.” We identified 70 eligible articles and are now in the process of extracting data from the studies. I learned that research oftentimes functions at its own pace. Our team would proceed with one plan, then realize that the plan needed to change and so we had to go back and re-do our work. But despite those re-dos, I realized that the process is just as important as the product. In retrospect, I realized I learned significantly from the process of conducting a literature search and screening titles and abstracts. I also realized the importance of communication when working within a team. There’s no such thing as overcommunication when it comes to research. My mentors were incredibly generous with their time and shared their wisdom and guidance freely, for which I’m extremely thankful. I’m excited to continue working with this team to shed light on which palliative care interventions work and what doesn’t work in nursing homes.