Research and scholarship in palliative
Christine Ingleton and Sue Davies
There has been a remarkable growth in the extent of research activity in palliative care in recent years, much of it driven by attempts to strengthen the evidence base of the specialty. Research in palliative care has come a long way from the isolated endeavours of its founders in the early 1960s and we now have the prospect of both national and international communities of interdisciplinary research interest. Collaboration between centres, interprofessional and multi-professional working, as well as diverse interests and approaches, all are features of the contemporary scene.
Within the broad field of palliative care research, nursing is beginning to emerge as an important focus. Palliative care is a challenging and expanding area of nursing, with major developments in service organization and the creation of new nursing roles (Shewan and Read 1999; Seymour et al. 2002). Such initiatives require ongoing systematic evaluation, demanding research skills and capacity in the form of dedicated research posts, access to funding and a supportive infrastructure. Developments in the organization and provision of palliative care nursing services have been paralleled by changes in the education and preparation of nurses for palliative care nursing practice, which, in turn, reflect a more general transformation in nurse education. Throughout the industrialized world, there has been a gradual but comprehensive integration of nursing education into higher education. This has resulted in increased emphasis on the need to develop the evidence base for practice, and has placed pressure on both nurse educators and practitioners to actively engage in research and scholarly activities (Humphreys et al. 2000; Royal College of Nursing 2001).
In this chapter, we explore some of the challenges and opportunities offered by research and scholarship in palliative care nursing. We begin with a consideration of the relationship between scholarship, research and practice with particular reference to nursing in palliative care settings. We follow