by Claire Goodman, Katherine Froggatt and Elspeth Mathie

This review provides an overview of the range of research methods that have been commonly used in end of life care research and their relevance for social care. It provides a policy and service context for understanding end of life care research in social care and, using examples from relevant research, considers the advantages and disadvantages of different research methods and tools. The particular ethical challenges and practical issues that may arise are discussed along with some strategies and sources of support to address them.

Recommendations for research on adult social care practice

  • Despite the many challenges of undertaking research in this area, people at the end of life often value the opportunity to participate in and find benefit from their involvement in research. Therefore, we would encourage more research in this area.
  • More research is needed on the costs and resource use associated with end of life care in social care settings.
  • There needs to be a robust evidence base to support the development of good social care practice in end of life care that complements palliative care research and develops resources that are specific to social care. 
  • There is a need to develop research approaches that can exploit narrative and online data sources about the experience of dying and access to support. 
  • When researching health and social care and end of life, it is important to consider the complex interaction between different groups and health and social professionals and the wider context within which they operate.
  • Research in end of life of care would benefit from more social care-appropriate theoretical frameworks.

Read the full review (PDF).