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The National Cancer Research Institute's (NCRI) strategic review identified the need to build research capacity in UK supportive and palliative care research.1 Only 4.3% of direct spending on cancer research by NCRI partners (about £11 million per year) was being directed at supportive and palliative care, and weaknesses in the field included:
▶ The predominance of small-scale and often poor quality studies with less attention to research into meeting patient's needs
▶ Lack of a critical mass of experienced research groups and researchers, with international-level performance and little integration with the wider research community and other disciplines
▶ Lack of user involvement
▶ Lack of strong leadership, and
▶ Competition for limited resources.1
To redress these, NCRI recommended the establishment of interdisciplinary, supportive and palliative care, research collaboratives which were to include academic organisations, researchers and individuals, and groups from different research disciplines and clinical professions, whose purpose would be to enhance the value, quality and productivity of UK cancer-related supportive and palliative care research.2
We have described the financial and personal challenges of building collaborative research more fully elsewhere.3 This paper uses an evaluative framework4 to describe Cancer Experiences Collaborative's (CECo) activities, and assess the extent to which CECo has built research capacity in supportive and palliative care. It considers the legacy of CECo in the context of the wider discussions about value of collaborative research, and offers a critical appraisal of this type of funding model.
The Cancer Experiences Collaborative
CECo was one of two UK interdisciplinary research groups that was awarded NCRI collaborative funding (2006–2011) of £1.9 million. It comprised a partnership between researchers at five UK universities (Lancaster, Liverpool, Manchester, Nottingham and Southampton), clinical organisations (including the four largest hospices in England, and cancer centres); Help the Hospices (a leading charity supporting UK hospice care), …
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