Go back

The great equaliser


Marie Curie turns its attention to inequity in end-of-life experience

The Marie Curie charity’s research grants scheme for end-of-life and palliative care has a different theme or scope each year. This year’s scheme focuses on research projects that may help address barriers to equitable end-of-life experiences.

The call will launch in early June, with a total budget of £650,000. Marie Curie expects to make a minimum of four awards of up to £150,000 each. The deadline for expressions of interest is expected in mid-July and full applications will need to be submitted by mid-October.

Hannah Thomas, senior research manager at the charity, tells us what applicants should look out for. 

What are the goals of this call?

We are focusing on inequalities in access to, and experiences of, care and support for people affected by dying, death and bereavement. Our purpose is to create a better end-of-life for all, and we know there are profound and persistent inequalities. Our focus will be on overcoming those barriers to equity in palliative and end-of-life care.

The call information stresses an emphasis on building research proposals in equal partnership with representatives of the communities or groups that are in focus. Will this be a mandatory requirement?

Yes, and this is the first time we are doing this. We are asking that the applicants have a community co-lead. There will be a research lead and a representative of a community or group.

Do you have recommendations for fulfilling this requirement?

Support will be available from Marie Curie to help with meaningful community involvement from the start. There will also be a launch webinar, when we will talk through the call, give guidance to researchers on this, and provide examples of research projects we have funded that involve participatory research and/or researchers from the community.

Do you also encourage the participation of people from traditionally underrepresented backgrounds?

Yes, we are really keen to support such people to apply for this call. We are happy to have conversations around what the barriers for them may be. With this call, we are trying to take a holistic approach to equity, thinking about both equity in palliative and end-of-life care, and equity in the research space and how we can support researchers.

Your top piece of advice?

To really work on developing the proposals in a very collaborative way, not just with people with lived experience and the communities that are the focus of the research, but also across academic and clinical settings. One frequent mistake we see on bids is the presentation of a fairly small applicant team without the cross-section of expertise necessary to deliver the research. We would encourage as broad a team as possible to ensure the project will be successful.

Which questions should applicants ask themselves in that regard?

They should think in a methodological sense—is there the mix of people necessary to support the methodologies? Then consider the lived experience and community part of it, and the pathways to impact. Who are the people who sit on those pathways to impact? Get the research users involved in the project so the evidence produced will be used to make a difference.

How big is a team ideally?

We do not have restrictions. It is more about making sure all your bases are covered, rather than a particular number.

What other mistakes should applicants be careful to avoid?

We sometimes see poorly thought-through, or maybe tokenistic, patient and public involvement. For Marie Curie, the voice of lived experience really matters. We know how valuable it is to produce research centred on the people we look to help. So, well-thought-through and adequate costing for public and patient involvement is key.

Underspecified pathways to impact is another misstep. Sometimes applicants have the end goal but the routes to get there are not clearly specified. So think about the outputs of the research and then about the real-world activities that will allow those outputs to progress along the pathway to the visualised impact. Think about what is realistic and who you can work in partnership with to encourage it.

Finally, we sometimes see a lack of engagement with existing literature. It is important for applicants to have looked at the systematic reviews and other published research before trying to make a case for a new study.

Can you be contacted for further advice?

Yes, applicants should feel free to talk to us. We are a relatively small team. What we fund is relatively small numbers-wise, but it is actually a big part of the palliative and end-of-life-care research field in the UK, which we know is really underfunded. We want to support and encourage its development through investment in research projects, but also by supporting and developing capacity. 

This is an extract from an article in Research Professional’s Funding Insight service. To subscribe contact sales@researchresearch.com