Background The Scottish Government set out its five year vision to improve palliative care in its Strategic Framework for Action 2016–2021. This includes a commitment to evidence-based knowledge exchange across Scotland. A comprehensive scoping review of Scottish palliative care research was considered an important first step.
Aims • to identify all Scottish palliative care research published from 2006 to 2015.
• to map key thematic areas relevant to clinical practice, service development and policy.
Methods Palliative care research involving at least one co-author from a Scottish institution was eligible for inclusion. Five databases were searched with relevant MeSH terms and keywords. Additional papers were added following consultation with members of the Scottish Research Forum for palliative and end-of-life care. Initially 1919 papers were screened; 496 underwent full text review.
Results 308 papers were retained in the final set. Methodologically, 33% were quantitative, 29% were qualitative, 14% were reviews and 25% were other designs including mixed methods. Just over 70% were descriptive studies, and 10% were interventions or feasibility studies. Twelve RCTs were identified. 58 papers were concerned with palliative care for people with conditions other than cancer. Key areas of research were experiences or needs (23%), services and settings (23%), physical symptoms (22%) and psychological or psychosocial concerns (16%). Few papers focused on out-of-hours care, health economics or ehealth.
Conclusion The findings reveal a considerable increase in palliative care research over the last decade when compared with 44 papers identified in a similar Scottish review in 2006 and 151 papers identified in a review of Irish palliative care research in 2013. The new Scottish Research Forum for palliative and end-of-life care is now engaging with clinicians, service managers and policy-makers to facilitate understanding, use and dissemination of key implications for education, service innovation, policy and practice.
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