​Palliative Care Research

Because UPMC is affiliated with the University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences, the UPMC Palliative and Supportive Institute is able to conduct extensive research into how palliative and supportive care can affect patients and their families.

Our passion for learning more and helping others fuels our research, as we:

  • Examine how end-of-life decisions relate to the patient's physical status and emotional state.
  • Learn how families cope in times of stress and uncertainty.
  • Study how people respond to different approaches to care and communication.

Current Palliative Care Research Projects

Following are descriptions of some of our current research projects at the UPMC Palliative and Supportive Institute and Section of Palliative Care and Medical Ethics at the University of Pittsburgh:

Title A Trial to Improve Surrogate Decision Making for Critically Ill Older Adults
​Sponsor ​NIA
​When ​09/01/13 - 06/30/18 
​What we'll study

The objective of this proposal is to conduct a multi-center efficacy trial fo the Four Supports Intervention among 400 critically ill older adults. The central hypothesis is that by intensively supporting surrogates in this highly stressful circumstance, the Four Supports Intervention will improve key elements of decision making, decrease long-term psychological distress among surrogates, and achieve more patient-centered care near the end of life.


Title ​Surrogate Storytelling
Sponsor ​National Palliative Care Research Center
​When ​7/1/12 – 6/30/14
​What we'll study We propose a pilot randomized trial of the effect of storytelling in the early bereavement period on surrogate mental health outcomes. The intervention will allow surrogates to tell the story of their involvement in the decision to limit life-sustaining treatment for a loved one in the ICU.


​Title ​Outpatient Early Intervention Services with Respect to HIV Disease — Ryan White Title III (Part C)
​Sponsor ​HRSA
​When ​1/1/12 – 12/31/16
​What we'll study ​The Ryan White Early Intervention Project grant provides funding for comprehensive HIV primary care, psychosocial supportive services, specialty medical care, gynecological care, dental care, counseling and testing and drug and alcohol screening. This funding also provides laboratory services and pharmaceuticals for uninsured and underinsured patients being cared for at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center and the Pittsburgh AIDS Center for Treatment (PACT).


​Title ​​Geriatric Education Centers of Pennsylvania
​Sponsor ​HRSA
​When ​7/1/10 – 6/30/15
​What we'll study A five year grant to educate nursing home clinicians about evidence based palliative care interventions in an effort to improve the quality of life of nursing home residents.


​Title ​​End of Life in Very Old Age
​Sponsor ​NINR
​When 12/23/10 11/30/15 
​What we'll study ​In a follow-up of participants in the Health, Aging, and Body Composition cohort (Health-ABC), this prospective study will follow the clinical course of these participants, now age 85+, to (i) characterize clinical trajectories and risk of death in very old age, (ii) assess participant and proxy decision-making, and (iii) examine predictors of hospitalization and emergency department care.


​Title ​​"Train-the-Trainer": Critical Care Communication Skills
​Sponsor ​Arthur Vining Davis Foundations
​When ​7/1/12 – 6/30/14 
​What we'll study ​Our project design will develop and run a national "Train the Trainer" C3 course for faculty with a goal to develop a cadre of faculty who are able to teach advanced communication skills to critical care fellows. In addition, this will facilitate a cultural and systemic change within the field of critical care medicine to improve doctor-patient communication and the overall patient experience.


​Title ​​Describing Variation in IRB Efficiency, Quality, and Procedures
​Sponsor Veterans Research Foundation of Pittsburgh
​When ​11/1/12 – 9/30/14
​What we'll study ​Dr. Arnold will guide Dr. Hall in adapting and applying the methods for coding IRB review quality that he helped in his research develop to the project.


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