Areas of Inquiry

Models of Care

What are the barriers to providing palliative care services, and how can we overcome them? Researchers at the University of Pittsburgh are investigating these questions. Their work examines how palliative care services are viewed by patients with serious illness, oncologists, pulmonologists, and cardiologists. And, they are developing new models of "primary" or basic palliative care that do not require specialty referral. Given the acute shortage of palliative care specialists, this work is timely and important. 

Evidence Reviews

What is the impact of palliative care interventions? Investigators are examining existing evidence on the effect of palliative care on patient and caregiver outcomes. This work helps to support efforts to integrate palliative care into everyday practice for patients with serious illness.

Decision Making

How can we help patients and families make informed decisions about their medical care? How can we ensure that these decisions reflect patient values and preferences? How can we support meaningful discussions about goals of care? Researchers at the University of Pittsburgh are examining tensions experienced by surrogate (family) decision makers in the intensive care unit (ICU). Additionally, the Palliative Care Research Group is investigating factors associated with advanced care planning for multiple types of serious disease.

Clinician-Patient Communication

How can we teach clinicians the communication skills they need to deliver bad news, provide emotional support, elicit values, manage conflict, and engage patients and families in discussions about goals of care? Developing, evaluating, and implementing communication training programs across multiple health care settings is important for improving the quality of clinician-patient communication, a vital component of palliative care medicine.

Pain and Symptom Management

How can we alleviate pain and other symptoms and improve quality of life for patients with serious illness? Chronic pain in patients with serious illness is an important area of palliative care research. This area of inquiry within the Palliative Care Research Group investigates optimal chronic pain management approaches and impacts of the opioid epidemic for patients with serious diseases, including HIV and cancer.

Health Care Advertising

What are health care institutions advertising to the public? What are the ethical implications of these advertising campaigns? And what is their impact? Investigators from the University of Pittsburgh are exploring the bioethics and issues of health policy surrounding health care advertising.