Research in Palliative Care

Research in the Palliative Medicine Program seeks to:

  • Identify and fix common symptoms by developing new methods of patient-reported outcomes.
  • Develop new ways to fix common and uncommon symptoms such as dyspnea, malignant ascites and chronic pain.
  • Develop better ways to communicate goals of care and life planning with compassion and maintained hope.
  • Increase knowledge about the impact of palliative care alongside usual care.
  • Expand palliative care to populations not previously studied, such as phase I patients.

Research is concentrated in these areas:

  • Integration of palliative care into patient care: Currently, there are research projects for patients with pancreatic cancer; patients on new, investigational phase I drugs; and patients in the emergency department. Plans for future research include concurrent palliative care for those with lung cancer, liver cancer or getting transarterial chemoembolization for liver cancers.
  • Quality improvement in the care of patients eligible for palliative care, specifically patients undergoing rehabilitation and those with drainage tubes or hematologic malignancies, among others.
  • Communication about serious illness, with intentional discussions about the cost of care, creation of a question prompt list for use in oncology offices, creation of a patient-centered app to stimulate discussion of important matters—this project is in collaboration with the National Coalition for Cancer Survivorship— and others.
  • Creation of videos and other tools to promote more meaningful and instructive conversation about surgical procedures related to cancer treatment, such as the Whipple procedure, and other serious illnesses and conditions.
  • New methods of pain control using patient-specific neurocutaneous stimulation with MC5-A Calmare scrambler therapy.

Active Studies

Please visit the Institute for Clinical and Translational Research for more information on the following studies.

  • A case-control study comparing risk factors for over-sedation and respiratory depression in naloxone-administered patients (NA_00091796).
    Researcher: Suzanne Nesbit, Pharm.D., C.P.E.
  • A feasibility study of palliative care consultations for lung cancer patients (NA_00069488).
    Researcher: Suzanne Nesbit, Pharm.D., C.P.E.
  • A pilot randomized sham-controlled trial of MC5-A calmare therapy (scrambler therapy) in the treatment of chronic chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy (NA_00086429).
    Researcher: Thomas Smith, M.D.
  • Assessing the impact on chemotherapy decision making while utilizing the NCCN guidelines when the cost of each regimen Is provided to prescribers and patients (NA_00074093)
    Researcher: Ronan J. Kelly, M.D., M.B.A.
  • Characterization of opioid-related patient safety events at the Johns Hopkins Hospital (NA_00091672)
    Researcher: Suzanne Nesbit, Pharm.D., C.P.E.
  • Development and implementation of the pain control and comfort menu for neuroscience units (NA_00092048)
    Researcher: Suzanne Nesbit, Pharm.D., C.P.E.

  • Implementation of a post-discharge phone call program to assess the management of opioid therapy including its related adverse effects and opioid associated bowel regimens in patients discharged to home (NA_00081216)
    Researcher: Suzanne Nesbit, Pharm.D., C.P.E.
  • Integration of palliative care for cancer patients on phase I trials (NA_00088433)
    Researcher: Thomas Smith, M.D.
  •  iPC3 – a pilot trial of integrating palliative care and modern palliative care tools into the care of patients with pancreas cancer (NA_00074891)
    Researcher: Thomas Smith, M.D.
  • Patterns of radiation therapy care at the end of life: a single-institution retrospective analysis (NA_00078676)
    Researcher: Suzanna Ellsworth, M.D.; Sara Alcorn, M.D.; Thomas Smith, M.D.
  • Quality of life in acute myeloid leukemia patients in complete remission: a cross-sectional pilot survey study of survivorship and health related quality of life (NA_00079772)
    Researcher: Thomas Smith, M.D.; Jennifer Cheng, M.D.

Recently Completed Projects

  • Using a question prompt list as a communication aid in cancer care (NA_00083150)
    Researcher: Jonathan Yeh, HMS 3; Thomas Smith, M.D.
    Published in the Journal of Oncology Practice, 2014.
  • A quality assurance study of the patterns of care for hospice use by Johns Hopkins Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center deceased patients who had hematologic malignancies (NA_00076834)
    Completed Sept. 14, 2013
    Researcher: Amy Sexauer, M.D., Ph.D.; Thomas Smith, M.D.
    Published in the Journal of Palliative Medicine, 2014.