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Dr Mary Turner

Formerly at Lancaster University

Research overview

My research expertise is in palliative and end of life care, and over the past 10 years I have undertaken research in a range of care settings, including hospices, hospitals, care homes and prisons. I have expertise in qualitative and mixed methods. I have recently completed a Marie Curie-funded action research study on end of life care for prisoners. I am also an advisor for the NIHR Research Design Service North West.

Current Research

Both sides of the fence: using action research to improve end of life care for prisoners. Turner M, Payne S, Froggatt K, Fletcher A, Scott G, Gibson R. Marie Curie Cancer Care (2013-2015).

Initiating end of life care in stroke: clinical decision-making around prognosis. Burton C, Payne S, Tyrrell P, Rycroft-Malone J, Williams S, Tyson S, Elghenzai S. Marie Curie Cancer Care (2013-2015).

PhD student research:

Understanding the use of out-of-hours services by older people and their families: a mixed methods study. Lambert W. (2008-2014)

Exploring the attitudes of hospice trustees to service user involvement in governance. Poulson K. (2010-2015)

Parental decisions around end of life locations for their child: a grounded theory study. Quinn C. (2012-2016)

Research Interests

I have been fortunate since joining Lancaster University to work on a number of different projects with colleagues from this and other universities, the NHS, the voluntary sector and other organisations, and I am very interested in collaborations that facilitate applied research for the benefit of patients and family members. One example of this was a study which brought together researchers, clinicians and service users to understand how decisions are made about initiating end of life care for stroke patients.

Having been very involved with the ‘Unpacking the home’ study , which was led by Professor Sheila Payne, I also have an interest in informal carers and their experiences of caring for family members at the end of life. This study highlighted the multiple burdens placed on family carers, particularly older carers aged over 80, and made a number of important recommendations for practice, policy and further research. I have recently published a paper that highlights the particular issues faced by older carers.

My main interest, however, is in palliative care in prisons and in how equitable care can be provided in this marginalised setting. Older prisoners are the fastest growing section of the prison population, and increasing numbers of prisoners with disabilities and life-limiting conditions are requiring palliative care. Prison staff face particular challenges in delivering round the clock care, managing symptoms and supporting family members in a setting where security is of paramount importance. With colleagues in the Observatory I undertook a regional evaluation of end of life care in prisons in 2009; this led to the development of the Marie Curie-funded study, in which the research team worked with a broad range of prison staff (including healthcare staff, prison officers, governors and chaplains), staff from outside the prison (in primary care and hospice) and older prisoners themselves to improve end of life care for prisoners.

Current Teaching

I currently supervise 3 PhD student projects (see current research).

Additional Information

I joined the International Observatory on End of Life Care in February 2007 to work with Professor Sheila Payne as a Research Fellow. Prior to this I had a lengthy nursing career in the NHS, predominantly in clinical roles (including ward manager and clinical nurse specialist), and latterly in an end of life care strategic leadership role. My interest in research was sparked whilst in clinical practice and, following the award of a research studentship from the Department of Health, I completed my PhD at King’s College London in 2001.

Since joining the Observatory team, I have worked on a broad range of research projects, and have been able to draw on my strong NHS background as well as gain new research expertise. I have developed particular expertise in palliative and end of life care for prisoners, and have been successful in securing funding to continue my research in this area. I have also developed expertise in research ethics, both from my involvement in the Faculty of Health and Medicine’s Research Ethics Committee and from my extensive experience of NHS ethics and governance processes.

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