Research at Calvary Mater Newcastle

Palliative Care and End of Life Care Research Projects

The Palliative Care Research Team at Calvary Mater Newcastle consists of a dynamic team of nurses, doctors and administrative support staff who work together to enable and facilitate multi-professional research within our department. We have a core staff of dedicated clinical trials and research nurses who co-ordinate all departmental research, quality improvement and audits and have recently established a central Research, Education and Evaluation Working Party which has established formal collaboration with other hospital departments and academia with three of our core staff holding formal positions with various national and international universities.

We are an important recruiting site for the Palliative Care Clinical Studies Collaborative (PaCCSC) ensuring our continuous involvement with important palliative care clinical trials. We also regularly contribute to the PaCCSC phase 4 pharmacovigilance studies.

We have a number of current ongoing departmental research activities including the development and roll out of a hospital wide quality end of life care program, evaluation of a multi-professional dyspnoea intervention, a survey of cannabis use in the community, the evaluation and role of meaning making in bereavement and the rate of pressure injures in palliative care community patients. In the recent past we have completed funded studies in constipation and gastric emptying in people receiving palliative care.

Collaboration is a core feature of our research department with our clinical trials nurse sitting on the Scientific Committee for PC4 and a member of the Palliative Care Research Network of Victoria (PCRNV), two of our team also sit on the Hunter New England Human Research Ethics Committee. In this spirit of collaboration we also host project-focussed researchers from around the country.

Current Studies

  • A Review of Specialist Palliative Care in Residential Aged Care Facilities, Hayes, C, Byfieldt, N, Stabler, J
  • Consumer feedback – Bereavement support group, Harris, F
  • Implementing a triage process in Specialist Palliative Care, Wallis J., Maher, J., Compton, V., Byfieldt, N.
  • Outreach and inpatient equipment storage and cleaning area re-organisation, Gleeson, J, Baird, E, Davis, J, Atkinson,J, Collins-Morgan, L., Bagley, B.
  • Seating options for hospice inpatients, Davis, J., Collins-Morgan, L., Bagley, B., Gleeson, J., Atkinson, N., Baird, E.=
  • ADL equipment in hospice, Bagley, B., Davis, J., Gleeson, J., Collins-Morgan, L.
  • Pressure care equipment guidelines, Davis, J., Gleeson, J., Atkinson, N., Collins-Morgan, L.


  • Clark, K., Lam, L., Talley, N.J., Watts, G., Phillips, J.L., Byfieldt, N., Currow, D. (2018). A pragmatic comparative study of palliative care clinician’s reports of the degree of shadowing visible on plain abdominal radiographs. Supportive Care in Cancer 26 (11): 3749-3754
  • Glare, P., Watts, G., Louw, S., Martin, P., Clark, K., Agar, M., Fazekas, B., Currow, D. (2018). Management of anorexia in people with cancer. A randomised double blind, controlled trial of megestrol acetate, dexamethasone or placebo. Journal of Clinical Oncology 36 (Supplement) Abstract 10020
  • Currow, D., Watts, G.J., Johnson, M., McDonald, C.F., Miners, J.O., Somogyi, A.A., Denehy, L., McCaffrey, N., Eckert D.J., McCloud, P. (2017). A pragmatic, phase III, multisite, double-blind, placebo-controlled, parallel-arm, dose increment randomised trial of regular, low-dose extended-release morphine for chronic breathlessness: Breathlessness, Exertion And Morphine Sulfate (BEAMS) study protocol. British Medical Journal 7(7) e018100
  • Lucas, C. J., Patel, J., Martin, J. H. (2017). Predicting drug interactions in addiction treatment. Internal Medicine Journal 47(8) 872-878
  • Patel, J., Martin, J. H., Lucas, C. J. (2017). Comment on a paper by Dupoiron et al. A phase III randomized controlled study on the efficacy and improved bowel function of prolonged release (PR) oxycodonenaloxone (up to 160/80 mg daily) versus oxycodone PR. European Journal of Pain 21(10) 1772-1773
  • Hourn, M.M., Quinn, R., Waller, A., Boyle, K., Jordan, L.A., Salaris, M., Byfieldt, N., Shaw, L., Marsden, D. (2017). Exploring current inpatient practice in transitioning people after stroke from acute to palliative care and in advance care planning: The Plan Assess Understand Survival after Stroke (PAUSe after Stroke) Project. International Journal Of Stroke 12(23)
  • Clark, K., Willis, A., Byfieldt, N. (2017). An Observational Study to Explore the Feasibility of Assessing Bereaved Relatives’ Experiences Before and After a Quality Improvement Project to Improve Care of Dying Medical Inpatients. American Journal of Hospice and Palliative Medicine 34(3) 263-268
  • Patel, J., Lucas, C., Margalit, M., Martin, J. Laxative use in inpatients on oxycodone/naloxone prolonged release and oxycodone prolonged release for cancer and non-cancer pain. ANZSPM Conference 2018
  • Watts, G., Byfieldt N., Compton,V., Wallis, J.,  Maher, J., Hughes, R. (2018). The Implementation and Evaluation of a multi-professional triaging process for referrals to a community specialist palliative care service. BMJ International Forum for Quality and Safety in Healthcare. Melbourne
  • Poon,  M., Byfieldt, N., Watts, G. (2018). Use of Prognostic tools in assessing eligibility for palliative home oxygen therapy. ANZSPM Conference, Sydney
  • Glare, P., Watts, G., Louw, S., Martin, P., Clark, K., Agar, M., Fazekas, B., Currow, D. (2018). Treating Anorexia in People with Advanced Cancer. A Randomised, Double Blind, Controlled Trial of Megestrol Acetate, Dexamethasone or Placebo. ASCO Annual Meeting, Chicago
  • Hayes, C., Stabler, J., Byfieldt, N. (2018). Exploring the use of cannabis for medicinal purposes in a palliative care population. ANZSPM conference
  • Breathlessness, Exertion And Morphine Sulphate Study (BEAMS) dyspnoea study, PaCCSC
  • MILD dyspnoea study, PaCCSC
  • RAPID pharmacovigilance study, PaCCSC
  • Prevalence of cannabis for medicinal purposes in a palliative care population, Hayes, C., Byfieldt, N., Stabler, J.