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Grant Funds Palliative Care Study

CU School of Medicine

AURORA, Colo. (April 25, 2015) – A research team from the School of Medicine at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus has been approved for a $2 million funding grant from the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) to study offering palliative care to patients with Parkinson’s disease.

Parkinson’s disease affects as many as 2 percent of adults over age 65, representing approximately 1.5 million Americans. Parkinson’s disease is traditionally characterized by motor symptoms such as tremor and slowed movement, but more recent research shows that patients also commonly experience non-motor symptoms such as pain, fatigue, depression and dementia.

With those symptoms, the disease interferes with patients’ quality of life, leads to disability, decreases length of life and causes significant distress for caregivers. Many of the needs most important to patients and their caregivers, such as depression and planning for the future, are poorly addressed under current models of care.

Palliative care is an approach to patient care that focuses on reducing suffering by addressing medical symptoms such as pain, psychological issues, social factors and spiritual wellbeing. While palliative care was developed for patients with cancer, recent studies support its use for other illnesses including heart failure and lung disease.

“The goal of our proposal is to take a patient-centered approach to answering common questions about how providing palliative care affects the quality of life for the patient and caregiver,” said Benzi Kluger, MD, associate professor of neurology, who is leading the team that received this grant. “By testing the effectiveness of this approach and determining who benefits most we hope to provide a new option to assist those Parkinson’s disease patients at highest risk for poor outcomes”

The study is one of 34 proposals that PCORI approved for funding on Tuesday, April 21, to advance the field of comparative clinical effectiveness research (CER) and provide patients, healthcare providers, and other clinical decision makers with information that will help them make better-informed choices.

The award has been approved pending completion of a business and programmatic review by PCORI staff and issuance of a formal award contract to the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus.

“This project was selected for PCORI funding not only for its scientific merit and commitment to engaging patients and other stakeholders, but also for its potential to fill an important gap in our health knowledge and give people information to help them weigh the effectiveness of their care options,” said PCORI Executive Director Joe Selby, MD, MPH. “We look forward to following the study’s progress and working with the CU School of Medicine to share the results.”

About the Patient Centered Outcomes Research Institute

PCORI is an independent, non-profit organization authorized by Congress in 2010 to fund comparative clinical effectiveness research that will provide patients, their caregivers, and clinicians with the evidence-based information needed to make better-informed health and healthcare decisions. PCORI is committed to seeking input from a broad range of stakeholders to guide its work.

About the University of Colorado School of Medicine

Faculty at the University of Colorado School of Medicine work to advance science and improve care. These faculty members include physicians, educators and scientists at University of Colorado Health, Children’s Hospital Colorado, Denver Health, National Jewish Health, and the Denver Veterans Affairs Medical Center. The school is located on the Anschutz Medical Campus, one of four campuses in the University of Colorado system. To learn more about the medical school’s care, education, research and community engagement, visit its web site.