Taiwan Research Network
Inspired by Dr Stein Kaasa of the European Palliative Care Research Centre, the Taiwan Academy of Hospice Palliative Medicine established its own research network in Taiwan in 2011. By collecting data simultaneously in different medical centres and through hi-tech industry, we believe it is the most efficient, influential and up-do-date way to carry out research in palliative medicine in the 21st century.
The academy functions as the soul of the network. The secretariat is responsible for funding and supervising the progress of the project. The academic division conducts the research in every detail including setting the direction of the research, recruiting the participating hospitals, monitoring data collection in each hospital, and assigning people for data analysis, writing and final authorisation.
 Since achieving a good death is one of the ultimate goals in palliative care, the first multicentre study we conducted was to find out what affects the quality of dying of terminally ill cancer patients in Taiwan. As a previous study has shown that patient autonomy is one of the factors, we therefore wanted to further examine what affects patient autonomy. By using the validated ‘Good Death Scale’ we had developed, we measured the associated correlates that affect quality of dying and patient autonomy. Four medical centres participated in the study and the team held monthly teleconference discussions.
The second study was to investigate the quality of life of terminally ill cancer patients in Taiwan. By using the Taiwanese version of the McGill Quality of Life questionnaire, we interviewed patients at the time of hospitalisation and again one week after. We would like to compare the difference and evaluate the outcome after the intervention of palliative care.
Recently, we have been collaborating with Dr Tatsuya Morita, an internationally renowned scholar in palliative medicine from Japan, focusing on the subjects of physician-perceived good death and patient autonomy. The survey was designed and distributed by Japan and physicians from Korea, Japan and Taiwan answered the questionnaire via computer. The study is the first example of a cross-cultural research network in Asia.
We would welcome contact from other countries that may be interested in joining us and to sharing scientific knowledge in this field. Please email me (sharlenecheng@ntuh.gov.tw ) if you’d like to join us.