Research: Advancing knowledge to improve health outcomes

Palliative Care Research

Palliative Care Research

Current Nursing Research in the Areas of Palliative Care

  • End-of-life communication, treatment decision making, and surrogate decision making
  • Quality of life
  • Symptom science
  • Pain and symptom management
  • Family caregiving
  • Palliative care integration into advanced illness management

Pre-Doctoral and Post-Doctoral Research

Former Post-Doctoral Fellow

Hyejin Kim, PhD, RN is a postdoctoral fellow at the Center for Nursing Excellence in Palliative Care at Emory School of Nursing. She received her PhD in Nursing (with a focus on palliative and end-of-care) from the University of Pennsylvania. She was a Ruth L. Kirschstein NRSA predoctoral (F31) fellow and a 2013-2015 National Hartford Centers of Gerontological Nursing Excellence Patricia G. Archbold scholar.

Palliative and end-of-life care, particularly goals-of-care discussion, surrogate decision making, and treatment decision making; dementia and long-term care; qualitative research.

Hyejin’s research is focused on improving the quality of care and promoting palliative care for nursing home residents who have lost decision-making capacity, and their surrogates. Her research areas include goals-of-care discussion, surrogate decision making, treatment decision making, dementia care, and long-term care. Her dissertation study focused on Physician Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment (POLST) discussions between primary care providers and surrogates for individuals with advanced dementia. This study described characteristics of provider-surrogate communication during POLST discussions and surrogates’ experiences of engaging in the discussions. Currently, Hyejin is conducting a study on healthcare decision making for nursing home residents who have lost decision-making capacity but do not have an available surrogate (often called “unbefriended”). 

Current Pre-Doctoral Fellows 

Carrie Henry, MSN, CNM, RN is a PhD student, with expected graduation in 2021. Her research focuses on improving care for African American families experiencing perinatal loss. She received her BSN from The University of Alabama in 2001 and her MSN from the Medical University of South Carolina in 2005. Her clinical background is in midwifery.

Carolina Gustafson, MSN, ACNP-BC is a current first year PhD student interested in end-of-life and palliative care interventions for young adult patients and their families in critical care settings. Currently she is studying the experiences of young adults with cystic fibrosis with a focus on palliative care and advanced care planning and transitions from pediatric to adult care. She graduated with her MSN from the Yale School of Nursing in 2018 as an Acute Care Nurse Practitioner where her masters thesis examined the palliative and end-of-life experiences of Muslim oncology patients. Her undergraduate degree was in Science, Technology, and Society with a focus on gender and science. She wrote her senior thesis on the gendered history of nursing through the lens of the development of hospice in America as a nurse-led movement.

Interdisciplinary Group for Integrative Scholarship in Palliative Care

The Center aims to serve as a catalyst for successful and optimized interdisciplinary collaboration in palliative education, practice, and research. To promote interdisciplinary scholarship, the interdisciplinary group for integrative scholarship in palliative care brings palliative educators, practitioners, and researchers from multiple disciplines on campus together to promote interdisciplinary scholarship.

Faculty who are interested in joining this group, please contact administrative assistant Dianne Winsett at

Palliative Care Pilot and Dissertation Research Grants

This planned initiative is to fertilize innovation in palliative care research and help accelerate development of palliative care research programs for junior investigators and student researchers.


Examining the Relationship between Economic Hardship and Quality of Life in the Outpatient Oncology Palliative Care Setting: A Pilot Study

This study will give us information to guide us in creating interventions to prevent and reduce financial hardship and its negative effects on health and well-being. Approximately 1.7 million Americans were diagnosed with cancer in 2018. As numbers of cancer diagnoses increase, costs of cancer care are also increasing, from 59.8 billion dollars in 2002 to 87.5 billion dollars in 2012. More money is spent on individual cancer care than on any other disease in the United States. Patients are responsible for many of the increased costs, resulting in financial hardship to patients. In limited studies looking at specific types of cancer, higher financial hardship has been related to lower quality of life. Little research has been done to describe financial hardship experienced by cancer patients with advanced cancer in the palliative care setting. This group of patients may be experiencing cumulative effects of financial hardship due to their advanced disease status. Therefore, the objective of this research is to describe financial hardship and its association with quality of life in cancer patients with advanced cancer in the palliative care setting. This study includes a one-time visit with approximately 60 patients receiving outpatient palliative care services at Emory or Grady. Research participants will be asked to complete questionnaires about quality of life, financial hardship, and cancer symptoms. The principal investigators are Kate Yeager and Sarah Belcher.

Sarah M. Belcher, PhD, RN, OCN
Postdoctoral Fellow, Biobehavioral Oncology

Kate A. Yeager, PhD, RN, FAAN
Assistant Professor