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01.01.2012 | Original Article | Ausgabe 1/2012 Open Access

Supportive Care in Cancer 1/2012

A pan-European survey of research in end-of-life cancer care

Supportive Care in Cancer > Ausgabe 1/2012
Katrin Ruth Sigurdardottir, Dagny Faksvåg Haugen, Claudia Bausewein, Irene J. Higginson, Richard Harding, Jan Henrik Rosland, Stein Kaasa, on behalf of project PRISMA
Wichtige Hinweise

Electronic supplementary material

The online version of this article (doi:10.​1007/​s00520-010-1048-x) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.



To date, there is no coordinated strategy for end-of-life (EOL) cancer care research in Europe. The PRISMA (Reflecting the Positive Diversities of European Priorities for Research and Measurement in End-of-life Care) project is aiming to develop a programme integrating research and measurement in EOL care. This survey aimed to map and describe present EOL cancer care research in Europe and to identify priorities and barriers.

Material and methods

A questionnaire of 62 questions was developed and 201 researchers in 41 European countries were invited to complete it online in May 2009. An open invitation to participate was posted on the internet.


Invited contacts in 36 countries sent 127 replies; eight additional responses came through websites. A total of 127 responses were eligible for analysis. Respondents were 69 male and 58 female, mean age 49 (28–74) years; 85% of the scientific team leaders were physicians. Seventy-one of 127 research groups were located in a teaching hospital or cancer centre. Forty-five percent of the groups had only one to five members and 28% six to ten members. Sixty-three of 92 groups reported specific funding for EOL care research. Seventy-five percent of the groups had published papers in journals with impact factor ≤5 in the last 3 years; 8% had published in journals with impact factor >10. Forty-four out of 90 groups reported at least one completed Ph.D. in the last 3 years. The most frequently reported active research areas were pain, assessment and measurement tools, and last days of life and quality of death. Very similar areas—last days of life and quality of death, pain, fatigue and cachexia, and assessment and measurement tools—were ranked as the most important research priorities. The most important research barriers were lack of funding, lack of time, and insufficient knowledge/expertise.


Most research groups in EOL care are small. The few large groups (14%) had almost half of the reported publications, and more than half of the current Ph.D. students. There is a lack of a common strategy and coordination in EOL cancer care research and a great need for international collaboration.

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