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Dr Catherine Walshe

Reader in Palliative Care

Catherine Walshe

Lancaster University

Furness Building



Tel: +44 1524 510124

Research overview

My research expertise is in palliative and end of life care. I have two main research interests: the way that palliative care is provided especially within primary and community care settings; and the experience of symptoms at the end of life. I am currently engaged in projects examining the effectiveness of social action projects on quality of life at the end of life (2014-2016), and peer mentors for those with advanced cancer (2015-2018) . I am also interested in research methods and dissemination, and edit the journal 'Palliative Medicine'.

Current Research

Current projects include:

  • ELSA: End of Life Social Action Project; investigating the effectiveness of social action projects to influence people's quality of life (funded by the Cabinet Office) with Prof. Sheila Payne, Dr Nancy Preston, Dr Guillermo Perez Algorta, Dr Steve Dodd and Nick Ockenden and Matt Hill (Institute for Volunteering Research).
  • PACT: A feasibility trial of a peer mentor intervention for those with advanced cancer with Dr Diane Roberts (University of Manchester) in collaboration with Linda Appleton (Clatterbridge Centre for Oncology), Dr Lynn Calman (Southampton University), Mr Paul Large (User representative), Prof Mari Lloyd-Williams (University of Liverpool), Prof Gunn Grande (University of Manchester), Prof Suzanne Skevington (University of Manchester).
  • I also supervise a number of PhD students following a traditional route PhD and on the PhD in Palliative Care programme.

Research Interests

Providing excellent and appropriate care at the end of life is critically important not only to those with life-limiting illness, but also to informal and professional carers.  This is a major issue, as it is estimated that around 63% of those who die will require palliative care at some stage during their illness. Research into all aspects of palliative care provision is vitally important, to provide appropriate evidence to support care decisions. Whilst there has been research in this field for a number of years now, there are still many unanswered questions as the evidence base remains small, possibly as a result of the poor funding in this area, and the need to develop research capacity. Within the International Observatory on End of Life Care we focus on a number of different areas of research which contribute to developing this evidence base: researching the needs of older people, symptom management, evaluating service models, and our overarching theme of developing research methods to investigate end of life care.


A current research project investigating the maintenance of psychological wellbeing for those with advanced cancer feeds directly into these research priorities, as it examines issues of psychological symptom management.  We know that those with advanced cancer live with stress and uncertainty, affecting their quality of life and physical and mental health. Professional responses usually pathologies this experience, largely ignoring the coping strategies that people use. We have worked directly with 27 people with advanced cancer and their informal carers to investigate using qualitative longitudinal interview methods how they cope well with living with cancer, and how this coping develops over time. We have discovered a range of coping strategies, and we are using data from this study at the moment to develop a peer intervention.


Previous research has focused on the provision of palliative care services to those at home. We know that around 60% of people would like to die at home, although only around 20% of people achieve this aim. Providing excellent and appropriate care as close to home as possible is likely to be critical in enabling more people to achieve a home death. My research in this area has focused on the interface between generalists (such as district nurses and general practitioners) and specialists (such as community Macmillan nurses, and those working in Palliative Medicine), examining how this interface is important to the care experience of patients. I have also explored the role of the district nurse in providing palliative care at home, and how they contribute to the monitoring and overview of those at the end of life.

Current Teaching

Currently I teach the following modules:

  • DHR 517 Palliative care: History, Policy and Practice
  • DHR 516. Research design: key choices for qualitative and quantitative researchers
  • BIOL333. Ethics in Biomedicine

Additional Information

I am a Reader in Palliative Care and Director of the International Observatory on End of Life Care, part of the Division of Health Research.  I am also Editor in Chief of the journal ‘Palliative Medicine’. This is one of the premier journals in the field, and is an international multi-disciplinary journal. Palliative Medicine is the research journal of the European Association of Palliative Care and an official journal of the Association of Palliative Medicine. It has a 2015 impact factor of 3.685.

I am a fellow of the Queens Nursing Institute. I act as external examiner to the MSc in Palliative Care at Cardiff University.

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