Hospice patients' views on research in palliative care

Intern Med J. 2006 Jul;36(7):406-13. doi: 10.1111/j.1445-5994.2006.01078.x.


Background: This project was conducted to investigate whether the concerns that researchers have about including terminally ill patients in research were shared by a sample of terminally ill patients.

Methods: Twenty-two patients admitted to a hospice participated in semistructured interviews; 18 patients had advanced malignant disease and 13 were women; their ages ranged from 28 to 93 years. The interview transcripts were analysed for common themes and particular attention was paid to the reasons patients gave for their views.

Results: All the patients wanted to participate in research. Patients advanced one or more of several reasons for participation, the commonest being altruism, enhancement of a sense of personal value, the assertion of persisting autonomy and the value they placed on a commitment by doctors to optimising care by research. They rejected the view that their consent might be non-autonomous and put forward consistent views about what they considered relevant to consent.

Conclusions: Our patients did not share the concerns of ethicists about the difficulties and hazards of research with the terminally ill. These patients' views are not reflected in the professional consensus.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Ethics, Research*
  • Female
  • Hospices
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Palliative Care / ethics
  • Palliative Care / psychology*
  • Patient Acceptance of Health Care / psychology*
  • Patient Participation / psychology*
  • Terminally Ill / psychology*