Palliative Institute
Palliative Research & Grants
Palliative Research & Grants

Palliative Care Research & Grants

Knowledge translation

The Palliative Institute utilizes a variety of methods to support turning research into clinical practice. Infographics, online learning modules, world cafés and change management are some of the techniques beyond publishing that encourages the use of best practices.

The Palliative Institute commonly uses Canadian Institutes for Health Research’s Knowledge to Action approach to improving best practices.

Current Initiatives

Advance Care Planning Alberta Project

The Advance Care Planning Alberta Project is an Alberta government grant-supported project that will equip all Albertans regardless of their health status to make the necessary health, legal and personal decisions involved in planning for their future care.

It will do this by bundling health care tools together with resources related to personal and financial planning through collaboration with government ministries and representatives of the legal and financial planning communities.

Based on findings from the Advance Care Planning Collaborative Research and Innovation Opportunities (CRIO) program, this project will further integrate advance care planning into Albertans’ lives through collaborative partnerships across multiple sectors, including law, financial planning, banking and insurance.

Read more about advance care planning here.

Alberta Palliative Care Competencies and Education Project

The Alberta Palliative Care Competencies and Education Project is an Alberta government grant-supported initiative that aims to develop standardized inter-professional palliative care education programs for health care providers in Alberta to help prepare them to provide high-quality palliative care for Albertans. This project builds on the 2018 foundation of the health care provider-specific palliative care competencies.

Separate streams will be developed for generalists and specialists.

Specific aims of this project include:

  • Developing a list of inter-professional palliative care competencies
  • Developing specific competencies aimed at addressing the needs of selected cultural groups, including Indigenous peoples
  • Validating and endorse palliative care competencies through selected professional regulatory bodies for health care providers
  • Creating an inventory of existing palliative care continuing educational programs in Alberta
  • Assessing the degree to which current continuing education in palliative care addresses the identified competencies
  • Identifying, redesigning and/or designing interdisciplinary palliative care continuing education curriculum and piloting said curriculum
  • Enhancing the uptake of palliative care competencies and education through knowledge translation and develop a plan for sustaining resources

Palliative Care Public Awareness Project

The palliative Care Public Awareness Project, generously funded by the government of Alberta to March 2023, aims to increase access to quality palliative care for Albertans by:

  1. Encouraging conversations about death and dying
  2. Educating the public about palliative care
  3. Building community support for people with life-limiting illnesses
  4. Encouraging advance care planning

For more on the importance of public awareness around palliative care, visit our public awareness page.

Edmonton Classification System for Cancer Pain (ECS-CP)

The Edmonton Classification System for Cancer Pain (ECS-CP) is a tool for identifying patients who may require more complex pain management. This system allows for improved assessment and management and facilitates appropriate comparisons of clinical and research experience.

The classification system was created in Edmonton through a collaborative effort. A series of validation studies were conducted in Edmonton, and findings from this program of research have been presented and published internationally, in multiple languages.

To learn more, visit the AHS Symptom Assessment Tools website and click on "pain" in the accordion menu.

Edmonton Symptom Assessment System – Revised (ESAS-r)

The Edmonton Symptom Assessment System – Revised (ESAS-r) is an internationally recognized nine-item self-report symptom intensity tool developed for palliative care patients, with the option of adding a 10th patient-specific symptom. Three studies that gathered validation evidence of the ESAS were completed, which resulted in a revised version: the ESAS-r.

Future research directions include examining the role of the ESAS-r in the symptom assessment of psychosocial and spiritual distress screening, including aging, cognitively impaired, and non-cancer palliative care patients.

To learn more, visit the AHS Symptom Assessment Tools website and click on "assessment approaches" in the accordion menu.

Prior Initiatives

The Advance Care Planning Collaborative Research and Innovation Opportunities 

The Advance Care Planning Collaborative Research and Innovation Opportunities (ACP CRIO) program was a knowledge translation research program funded by Alberta Innovates from April 2013 to September 2019 and conducted by the University of Calgary’s Cumming School of Medicine, in partnership with Alberta Health Services and Covenant Health.

The goals of this project were to find the best ways to encourage uptake of advance care planning and to determine the impact of said uptake on health resource utilization and clinical outcomes. The current Advance Care Planning Alberta Project seeks to implement the findings of this research project.

Renal end-stage pathway

Conservative Kidney Management (CKM) is a treatment option for managing advanced chronic kidney disease. This clinical care pathway is a resource for patients and healthcare professionals that focuses on quality of life, symptom management, and living well without dialysis.

As a member of the Kidney Supportive Care Research Group, the Palliative Institute supported the development of this pathway. The pathway is currently moving from research to implementation in collaboration with Alberta’s Kidney Strategic Clinical Network.

Patient Dignity Question

The Patient Dignity Question (PDQ) is a novel, brief approach for obtaining a complete picture of an individual.

Patients and their families are asked to respond to the question: “What should your health care providers know about you (your family members) as a person to give you (them) the best care possible?”

The primary objective of the Patient Dignity Question pilot study was to prospectively evaluate it in the contexts of the Tertiary Palliative Care Unit (TPCU) at the Grey Nuns Community Hospital and two acute care hospitals as part of a Division of Palliative Care Medicine Residency project.

End-of-life (last hours to days) care pathway

The Palliative Institute and Edmonton Zone Continuing Care revised and re-released the Palliative Care Pathway as the Care of the Imminently Dying Pathway in 2017 for use as a provincial framework for supporting care in all patients’ last hours to days of life.

The pathway is a set of tools that enhances the quality of care and provides comfort for a person at the very end of their life. It provides guidance for any member of the health care team in any care setting and offers a coordinated approach to care and communication.

It can improve outcomes, promote safety, increase satisfaction with care, and optimize the use of resources.

Family caregiver satisfaction

In response to an Accreditation Canada recommendation, the Edmonton zone palliative care program and provincial Covenant Health palliative care adopted the FAMCARE-2 tool as a measure of family caregiver satisfaction with palliative care services.

A process evaluation study of the FAMCARE-2 was conducted in Edmonton hospices and the Grey Nuns Community Hospital Tertiary Palliative Care Unit. It was also piloted at the St. Michael’s Health Centre palliative unit in Lethbridge to test the appropriateness of the tool in obtaining family satisfaction feedback.

The tool is now utilized by all Edmonton and Covenant Health palliative units in Alberta, with regular reporting and posting of family caregiver comments for the staff.

European Association for Palliative Care Research Network

This international seminar was held in December 2016 in Banff, Alberta and was led and organized by the Palliative Institute in cooperation with the European Palliative Care Research Centre and EAPC Research Network.

Researchers shared their experiences of conducting collaborative research within Canada and in both North America and Europe. The conference provided great opportunities to connect, share experiences, and discuss approaches to palliative care research.

Environmental Scan of Canadian Catholic Palliative Care Services and Innovations

The environmental scan captured the scope of palliative care service delivery and innovation in Canadian Catholic healthcare, of which 22 were identified. Catholic healthcare organizations completed a self-assessment on their readiness to promote change. The project was completed in collaboration with the Catholic Health Alliance of Canada.