Palliative Care

The Division of Palliative Care Medicine focuses on the assessment and management of physical and psychosocial-spiritual issues experienced by patients with advanced cancer and other palliative care patient populations. This often also includes the needs of formal & informal family caregivers. These complex and devastating problems can affect approximately 80% of cancer patients who have no further curative treatment options. Clinical activity continues to expand to include palliative care for patients with non-malignant diseases.

The Division is interprofessional and is supported by Alberta Health Services, Covenant Health, and the University of Alberta. Division members are located at the Division office, Regional Palliative Care Program office and the Tertiary Palliative Care Unit at the Grey Nuns Hospital, the University of Alberta and Royal Alexandra Hospitals, the Cross Cancer Institute and the University of Alberta campus. Clinical activity covers 24 hour consultant service to all institutions (including 60 hospice beds) and homes within the Edmonton Zone, as well as providing the attending service on the 20 bed Tertiary Palliative Care unit at the Grey Nuns Hospital.

Physicians and Ph.D's from the Division are involved in teaching and research centered on multi-dimensional assessment of physical and psychosocial-spiritual issues, as well as on pharmacological and non-pharmacological treatment approaches. Research programs of Division Members include cancer pain classification, cancer cachexia, health economics and access to end of life care, pain and symptom control, psychosocial support and palliative care for non-cancer populations.

Palliative Care Professional Development

 Residency Training Program


The research domain of members of the Division is related to the alleviation of suffering of people affected by cancer. This research encompasses basic sciences, clinical research, population-based research, health services delivery research, as well as psychosocial research themes.

The major disciplinary areas represented in the research done by members of the Division of Palliative Care Medicine include:

  • Mechanisms, etiology and treatment of common symptoms (especially pain, fatigue, anorexia, cachexia).
  • Organization and financing of care (e.g. describing the impact of location of care and the impact of public versus private financing of care on quality, effectiveness and costs of delivery from a societal perspective and also from the personal/caregiver perspective).
  • Assessment and classification studies addressing the clinical characterization of multiple dimensions of pain and symptoms.