Palliative Care Research—A Systematic Review of foci, designs and methods of research conducted in Sweden between 2007 and 2012

Ingela Henoch, Ida Carlander, Maja Holm, Inger James, Elisabeth Kenne Sarenmalm, Carina Lundh Hagelin, Susanne Lind, Anna Sandgren, Joakim Öhlén
Scandinavian Journal of Caring Sciences 2016, 30 (1): 5-25

BACKGROUND: In 2007, a literature review was undertaken of palliative care research from Sweden during the 1970s-2006, paving the way for a follow-up study to explore the recent developments. The aim was to systematically examine palliative care research from Sweden between 2007 and 2012, with special attention to methods, designs and research foci.

METHODS: A literature review was undertaken. The databases Academic search elite, Age line, Ahmed, Cinahl, PsychInfo, PubMed, Scopus, Soc abstracts, Web of science and Libris were reviewed for Swedish palliative care research studies published from 2007 to 2012, applying the search criteria 'palliative care OR palliative medicine OR end-of-life care OR terminal care OR hospice care OR dying OR death'.

RESULTS: A total of 263 papers met the inclusion criteria, indicating an increased volume of research compared to the 133 articles identified in the previous review. Common study foci were symptom assessment and management, experiences of illness and care planning. Targeting non-cancer-specific populations and utilisation of population-based register studies were identified as new features. There was continued domination of cross-sectional, qualitative and mono-disciplinary studies, not including ethnic minority groups, nonverbally communicable people or children <18 years of age.

CONCLUSIONS: The trend is that Swedish palliative care research has expanded in volume from 2007 to 2012 compared to during the 1970s to 2006, with increasing participation of non-cancer-specific populations. A domination of qualitative approaches and small, cross-sectional studies with few interventions is still characteristic. Still more strategies are needed to expand the knowledge development of palliative care to respond to demographical, epidemiological, therapeutic and healthcare structure changes.

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