Collaborative Research Project Recognized

Research being conducted at Cape Breton University has the potential to impact palliative support services in the region and across the country. Cape Breton University professors, Dr. Sue Korol, Department of Psychology, and Sheila Profit, Department of Nursing, in collaboration with Dr. Anne Frances D’Intino, Cape Breton District Health Authority, were awarded a Gillian MacMichael Endowment Lectureship Award for their research titled, Informal Caregivers’ Perceived Supports and Barriers in the Provision of End-of-Life Care,at the 2011 Nova Scotia Hospice Palliative Care Association Annual Conference.

The aim of the study was to identify informal caregivers’ perceived supports and barriers in providing end-of life care for their loved ones both in home and in a hospital setting. “This research bears potential relevance in the areas of psychological health and in healthcare provision,” says Dr. Korol.  “Informal caregivers play enormous practical and emotional roles in the provision of end-of-life care. Consequently, their experiences may affect their own health and quality of life as well as the quality of life of the patient. Given the significant roles of informal caregivers in end-of-life care, an identification and subsequent promotion of supports that contribute to positive caregiving experiences may reduce associated physical and psychological risks during this stressful period.

The identification of practical, psychological and physical factors that enable informal caregivers to continue to be involved in end-of-life care for their loved ones in the home or in a hospital setting in Cape Breton may provide necessary information to regional health service providers.”There is a need to continually listen to what patients and families tell us about what has helped them as they are part of the circle of care at end of life, and the information gathered from this study will help us improve palliative services in our local area,” says Dr. D’Intino.

Dr. Korol notes “the results of this project could influence resource development and resource allocation. It is conceivable that available palliative supports may be perceived as unnecessary or even stressful, while participants may identify other supports as under or unavailable. Understanding the challenges experiencedby informal caregivers may be of enormous benefit in informing local palliative service providers.”

The Gillian MacMichael Endowment Fund was created in 2001 by Stephen and Arlene Waymire to honour the life of Gillian MacMichael. The purpose of the fund is to educate interdisciplinary health care professionals in Nova Scotia regarding palliative care. The 2011 Nova Scotia Hospice Palliative Care Association Annual Conferencewas held May 12-14 at the Innverary Inn in Baddeck, N.S.