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International palliative care research priorities: A systematic review

Hasson, Felicity; Nicholson, Emma; Muldrew, Deborah; Bamidele, Olufikayo; Payne, Sheila; McIlfatrick, Sonja


Felicity Hasson

Emma Nicholson

Deborah Muldrew

Sheila Payne

Sonja McIlfatrick


© 2020 The Author(s). Background: There has been increasing evidence and debate on palliative care research priorities and the international research agenda. To date, however, there is a lack of synthesis of this evidence, examining commonalities, differences, and gaps. To identify and synthesize literature on international palliative care research priorities originating from Western countries mapped to a quality assessment framework. Methods: A systematic review of several academic and grey databases were searched from January 2008-June 2019 for studies eliciting research priorities in palliative care in English. Two researchers independently reviewed, critically appraised, and conducted data extraction and synthesis. Results: The search yielded 10,235 articles (academic databases, n = 4108; grey literature, n = 6127), of which ten were included for appraisal and review. Priority areas were identified: service models; continuity of care; training and education; inequality; communication; living well and independently; and recognising family/carer needs and the importance of families. Methodological approaches and process of reporting varied. There was little representation of patient and caregiver driven agendas. The priorities were mapped to the Donabedian framework for assessing quality reflecting structure, process and outcomes and key priority areas. Conclusions: Limited evidence exists pertaining to research priorities across palliative care. Whilst a broad range of topics were elicited, approaches and samples varied questioning the credibility of findings. The voice of the care provider dominated, calling for more inclusive means to capture the patient and family voice. The findings of this study may serve as a template to understand the commonalities of research, identify gaps, and extend the palliative care research agenda.


Hasson, F., Nicholson, E., Muldrew, D., Bamidele, O., Payne, S., & McIlfatrick, S. (2020). International palliative care research priorities: A systematic review. BMC Palliative Care, 19(1), Article 16.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Jan 17, 2020
Online Publication Date Feb 3, 2020
Publication Date Feb 3, 2020
Deposit Date Feb 6, 2020
Publicly Available Date Feb 7, 2020
Journal BMC Palliative Care
Print ISSN 1472-684X
Electronic ISSN 1472-684X
Publisher Springer Verlag
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 19
Issue 1
Article Number 16
Keywords Palliative care research priorities; Consensus; International; Systematic review
Public URL
Publisher URL
Additional Information Received: 23 October 2019; Accepted: 17 January 2020; First Online: 3 February 2020; : Not Applicable.; : Not Applicable.; : The authors declare that they have no competing interests.


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Copyright Statement
Open Access This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver ( applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated.

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