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2018 Seed Grants Announced

Academic Symposium Promotes the Heart of Palliative Care

When researchers gather at the National Symposium, we see how different their perspectives and experiences are – which underscores that “palliative care” means many different things to different people.

The Symposium is a place that facilitates conversations among clinicians, educators and researchers from all disciplines, a place where they can share and amplify their research and practice that aims to ease the suffering of people with spiritual, emotional, mental or physical illnesses.

Third Year of Grant Awards

Research seed grants, which will be awarded for the third year at the 2018 Symposium, are also key in growing a stronger evidence base that supports palliative care practice. Seed grant funding has spurred unique projects that have addressed human suffering, including:

  • Dementia: A PhD psychologist enlisted college students to help older adults with dementia pass their days enjoying their favorite music. The students created “autobiographical music” collections for adults, music that was personally reminiscent to patients and directly tied to positive or significant events in their lives (e.g., their first date, their wedding). Information gleaned during “music life history interviews” with patients and families allowed for the creation of customized playlists that were uploaded to iPods. Data collection showed participants had changes in cortisol levels and heart rate variability, improved levels of social engagement, decreased use of prn medications, and were observed by staff and as having improved quality of life as a result of having their favorite music again in their lives.
  • Cultural Barriers to End-of-life Discussions: When people are ill, they perceive illness, suffering and dying through their own cultural lens, a lens that may be unfamiliar to care providers. In fact, the lack of culturally-competent end-of-life care has been referred to as the largest public health crisis looming in the US (Periyakoil et al, 2016). One PhD Psychology researcher teamed with pastors in rural South Carolina to talk with African American elders to learn their preferences for having conversations about end-of-life choices. The research is informing education for local healthcare providers to strengthen their understanding of culturally diverse views, and facilitate improved provider-patient communication, especially about healthcare choices.

Applications are Invited

At the 2018 National Symposium, presentations from six seed grant recipients from 2016 and 2017 will be featured, and more seed grants will be awarded. Applications are now being encouraged and accepted from researchers all over the country for awards of either $5,000 or $10,000, which will be announced at the event in October.

Educators and researchers from nursing, medicine, psychology, social work, and many more disciplines, are represented at the Symposium. Through the seed grants, more work will be funded to carry on the Symposium’s goal of promoting research that improves the lives of people suffering from all forms of illness. The Symposium invites all researchers from all disciplines to apply for seed grants, and to come, share, amplify and grow new ideas to improve the lives of anyone of any age, ethnicity, or belief system affected by serious illness.

Support for Seed Grant Funding is made possible by the Gary and Mary West Foundation.

Gary Mary West Foundation


Patient-Reported Barriers to High-Quality, End-of-Life Care: A Multiethnic, Multilingual, Mixed-Methods Study, Periyakoil, V. S., Neri, E., & Kraemer, H. (2016). Patient-Reported Barriers to High-Quality, End-of-Life Care: A Multiethnic, Multilingual, Mixed-Methods Study. JOURNAL OF PALLIATIVE MEDICINE, 19(4), 373–379.

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