Palliative Partners in Head And Neck Cancer

Our research aims to build a partnership in the North of England to identify key research priority areas in palliative and end of life care for people with head and neck cancer, addressing regional variations in care.



Incurable head and neck cancer and its treatment often cause severe difficulties in swallowing, speaking and breathing, as well as pain, tiredness and low mood. Symptoms can be extremely distressing for patients and families, leaving them isolated with very low quality of life. People are highly likely to receive intensive treatments and be admitted to hospital. Ultimately, it can affect preferences about care including whether or not an individual is able to die in the place of their choice. 

Palliative and end of life care varies widely depending on where you live and the North of England has some of the highest rates of Head and Neck Cancer in the UK. 


This project aims to:

  1. build a network of patients, carers, healthcare professionals and researchers with a specialist interest in palliative care and head and neck cancer across: Liverpool, Sheffield, and, Newcastle. 
  2. identify relevant sources of healthcare information collected locally and nationally and make an initial assessment of their quality and usefulness.
  3. develop and refine questions and research priority areas for future research applications. 

Activities and outcomes

Over the next 18 months the research will:

  1. establish a dedicated team to address the palliative care needs of people with head and neck cancer
  2. identify the top four research priority areas through group agreement, engaging patients, clinicians and public members who are new to research.
  3. develop a research application based on the key research areas identified, addressing current health inequalities.
  4. construct a handbook of information sources available within healthcare and determine how they can be used to answer key research questions.

This research project is led by Professor Joanne Patterson (University of Liverpool) and Dr Catriona Mayland (University of Sheffield).

For more information about this study contact Dr Michelle Lawton (

Funder: National Institute of Health Research

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