Integrative Approaches in Palliative Care:

Project Sponsored by the National Cancer Institute

Updated January 10, 2016

Palliative care represents one of the most rapidly expanding sectors of health care. Some complementary therapies have been shown to offer comfort, reduce suffering and improve quality of life in palliative care patients--in many cases, more effectively and at lower cost than conventional therapies.

The empirical evidence is growing, and an increasing number of patients seek out such therapies. There is a need for educational opportunities for palliative care personnel to be familiar with the evidence-based use of these options.

We have completed feasability testing of an interprofessional online course through prior funding by the National Cancer Institute, and are now awaiting funding for furher development. Details of the feasibility study are available on the ClinicalTrials.gov website at this link.

The aim of the course is to enable the diverse array of practitioners in the field of palliative care to do evidence-informed, integrative care planning to improve patient well-being. The final course will eventually be available online as an online learning opportunity with CE/CME credit for palliative care providers from the disciplines of medicine, nursing, social work, chaplaincy, pharmacy and others.

The course is interdisciplinary and takes a modular approach, with "provider-driven" content so as to deliver instruction that is practical and relevant in the day-to-day practice of palliative care providers. The ultimate goal is to impact practice behaviors such as referrals, integrative care planning, and communication, in ways that improve the quality of palliative care services.

Modules planned for development for the course cover the following topics:

  • Overview of integrative approaches in PC
  • Acupuncture
  • Aromatherapy
  • Biofield therapies
  • Expressive arts interventions
  • Massage
  • Mind/body and contemplative interventions
  • Movement interventions
  • Transforming the culture of care

We tested the feasibility of this CE/CME program with three prototype modules and a multidisciplinary sample of 51 health care professionals. The results were highly encouraging in terms of knowledge gained, increased confidence in integrative care planning, perceived importance of the course, and enthusiasm for its future development.

At this writing we are awaiting new funding to develop and evaluate the full course. This will include original video content and interviews with national experts for streaming online as part of the course.

Who is conducting the project?

  • The Principal Investigators are William Collinge, PhD and Leila Kozak, PhD
  • The organization conducting the study is Collinge and Associates, Inc., an independent research and consulting organization funded by the National Institutes of Health
  • The National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization (NHPCO), the nation's largest organization of palliative care professionals, will collaborate in preparing the course content for CE/CME accreditation and conducting the evaluation study.
  • We have applied to the National Institues of Health for funding via the National Cancer Institute, SBIR and STTR Program

What's the timeline?

We have applied for Phase II funding from the National Cancer Institute, and will post related updates here when available.

For more information contact William Collinge at (541)632-3502, email william@collinge.org; or Leila Kozak at (425) 765-1096, email leila.kozak@gmail.com.