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The University of Southampton
Health Sciences

Study launched to improve end of life care for older people

Published: 31 March 2011

Researchers at the University of Southampton are inviting the families of people who have died in the last year to take part in a new study aimed at understanding the experiences of patients as they have moved through the health and social care system in their final year of life.

The team, in collaboration with the universities of Liverpool, Oxford, Manchester, Lancaster and Nottingham, are investigating how effective the health system is in caring for elderly patients as they move between home and hospital, care home or hospice.

The research is funded by the National Institute for Health Research Service Delivery and Organisation (NIHR SDO) programme.

Researchers are looking to speak to the family and friends of people aged 75 and over who have died in the last year with lung cancer, breast cancer, colorectal (bowel) cancer, heart failure, COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease) or the after-effect of stroke. 

Previous research in the US has found that many transfers between places of care do not improve the control of pain or quality of life.  This new study will help understand the experiences of those in the UK and whether health and social services could be improved to enhance the level of care for older adults.
Dr Elizabeth Thompson, Research Fellow for Cancer, Palliative and End of Life Care Research Group at the University, commented: "People have a great deal of contact with health and social services in their final year of life and can experience frequent transfers between places of care, so it is essential that we have data that shows us how the movement of patients across many services has a positive or negative outcome on their quality of life. 

"Our studies have so far highlighted that patients find it difficult to negotiate their way through health and social care services when they are unwell.  Patients have told us about problems ranging from communication with health professionals, to practical issues such as transportation to hospitals, and inappropriate equipment being delivered to their homes. 

"We are keen to talk to families and carers of those who have been bereaved so that we can understand how health care was organised in the crucial weeks and months before their relative died."

For more information about the study please contact Elizabeth on or telephone: 023 8059 8228.

Issued by Jo Kedward, Polymedia, 01329 822866

Notes for editors

The University of Southampton is a leading UK teaching and research institution with a global reputation for leading-edge research and scholarship across a wide range of subjects in engineering, science, social sciences, health and humanities.  

With over 22,000 students, around 5000 staff, and an annual turnover well in excess of £400 million, the University of Southampton is acknowledged as one of the country's top institutions for engineering, computer science and medicine. We combine academic excellence with an innovative and entrepreneurial approach to research, supporting a culture that engages and challenges students and staff in their pursuit of learning.

The University is also home to a number of world-leading research centres including the Institute of Sound and Vibration Research, the Optoelectronics Research Centre, the Web Science Research Initiative, the Centre for the Developmental Origins of Health and Disease, the Southampton Statistical Sciences Research Institute and is a partner of the National Oceanography Centre at the Southampton waterfront campus.

For further information contact:

Sophie Docker, Media Relations Officer, University of Southampton: 023 8059 8933

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