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The past thirty years has seen a huge expansion in the provision of palliative care services. Because Palliative Medicine is a multidisciplinary specialty - combining the expertise of oncologists, anaesthetists, nurses, and many other therapeutic groups, the effectiveness of such treatment can be very difficult to measure. Additionally, research involving terminally ill patients and their carers can also present a number of practical and ethical problems. In spite of this, current health policy demands evidence of effectiveness and value for money of health service interventions at all levels of complexity, including the service level. Evaluating Palliative Care: Establishing the Evidence Base provides an introduction to the theory and practice of the evaluation of palliative care services. It examines the methodological issues involved in the evaluation of palliative care, and outlines a practical approach that is readily applicable to many other health care interventions. In particular, research issues involving terminally ill patients and their carers are analysed and discussed, and approaches suggested for future work.
Dr Margaret Robbins is based at the Department of Palliative Medicine, Bristol Oncology Centre, University of Bristol, UK. She has spent the last decade researching various aspects of care for the dying and the bereaved and evaluating palliative care.