Three separate conference awards were made to members of the Cambridge Palliative and End of Life Care Group at the most important UK conference on palliative care – the APM Annual Supportive & Palliative Care Conference 2019. The awards brought Cambridge research into the spotlight at the event, which draws clinicians together with researchers and is focused on using the latest evidence to improve clinical practice.
Ben Bowers, who won the Nursing award at the event, presented his qualitative research investigating GP decisions about prescribing anticipatory medicines at the end of life. Ben is researching anticipatory prescribing for his PhD. The study he presented at the conference finds that GPs view anticipatory medicines as key to symptom management for dying people. The drugs are routinely prescribed weeks ahead of need even though they are often not used. The study indicates that GPs need regular access to nurses – and trust in their skills to administer drugs appropriately – in order to feel comfortable delegating care. The work highlights that patient and family experiences of anticipatory medicines need investigation, as do their preferences for involvement in decision-making.
Ben said: “Winning the Nursing research award was a great honour, as was the privilege to present in a room packed full of interested and engaged clinicians.”
Meanwhile, fifth year medical student Alice Rogers, who carried out research with the Cambridge group during her fourth year, won ‘Best Medical Student poster’ for her presentation on a systematic review looking into the inequalities of hospice care. Alice said: “For a long time, clinicians have had some vague awareness that there are certain populations that are more likely to receive hospice care (for example, cancer patients) but our systematic review explicitly showed that there are some ingrained biases for hospice access, favouring people with high socio-economic status and white ethnicity. Also, we found that there is limited literature about hospice care for members of the LGBTQ community – an area which would certainly benefit from research input.”
Alice said her prize was an unexpected boost: “I was really shocked to win best medical student poster – I was not expecting it at all. It has given me more confidence about my ability to synthesise and present data.”
The prize has given me more confidence about my ability to synthesise and present data”
– Alice Rogers, fifth year medical student
At Cambridge, medical students have dedicated research blocks in both their fourth and fifth years. Alice suggests that medical students should really engage with these research blocks: “They are fabulous opportunities, not only for developing as a student but also just getting stuck into a team and having fun. I loved working at the Primary Care Unit – I still go back to see people in the End of Life Care group and going to the APM Palliative Care conference with them this year was like a reunion! As a medical student, primary care research is so interesting because it is so applicable – you see directly how the data relates to issues you see on GP placements.”
Tessa Morgan, PhD candidate within the Palliative and End of Life Care Group, won Best Junior Researcher prize at the conference for her research. Tessa presented findings from her systematic review of the literature concerning the experiences of carers over 75 supporting their spouse who is approaching their end-of-life. She highlighted the knowledge gaps around how these especially vulnerable carers navigate their caring role in the face of their own diminishing emotional and physical health. Tessa’s wider PhD aims to respond to these evidential and methodological gaps, using a longitudinal approach that combines qualitative and quantitative methods.
Learn more about the Cambridge Palliative and End of Life Care Group’s research on communication and decision making.
Queries: Lucy Lloyd, Communications Manager, Primary Care Unit