Hospice staff members' views on conducting end-of-life research

Palliat Support Care. 2004 Sep;2(3):273-82. doi: 10.1017/s1478951504040362.


Objective: Hospice staff members have concerns about the appropriateness of enrolling terminally ill people in research studies. These concerns can have profound implications for the advancement of palliative and hospice care as they can impede the empirical investigation of interventions for improving the quality of life of patients with advanced disease. This survey study was designed to examine hospice staff attitudes, beliefs, and values about research with their patients and family members.

Methods: This study utilized a cross-sectional, anonymous survey design to measure hospice staff members' beliefs, attitudes, and values. The survey contained questions derived by hospice and palliative care experts from their experience and review of the literature. It was handed out at staff meetings and returned via mail. The survey contained 14 questions and was able to be completed in less than 5 min.

Results: A total of 225 participants (56.25% response rate) completed the survey and were included in the data analysis. Hospice staff members were largely supportive about the idea of conducting research with patients and family members (mean agreement of 4.08-4.44 on several perception items about research on a 1-5 scale). They also acknowledged a mixture of being protective of controlling access to patients (52% wanted to be the ones to approach patients) and not having enough time for research (59% either had no time or would be willing to spend no more than 10 min on research).

Significance of results: Although many of the opinions derived from the survey appear to indicate a willingness to embrace research in a hospice setting, significant barriers, especially time constraints and protective attitudes, remain. Educational efforts and firsthand involvement in the research process might be a useful first step in attempting to address these barriers and traditionally held beliefs against using hospice patients and families in research.

MeSH terms

  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice*
  • Hospices*
  • Humans
  • Quality of Life
  • Research*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Workforce