Meet the Team: Natasha

Natasha Bradley is a research fellow at Queen’s University Belfast. Her PhD (2016-2020) used realist evaluation to explore social support interventions in palliative care. Natasha has joined Queen’s to work on this project, aiming to explain why integration of palliative care into cancer care remains difficult, and what can be done to improve integration. 

Why is this project important? 

Evidence suggests that early palliative care can improve outcomes for patients – helping to alleviate symptoms, cope better with illness, have a better quality of life, and in some cases even live longer. Palliative care might help people to avoid invasive treatments towards the end of their life, reducing the time they spend in hospital, and the associated costs of healthcare. 

This evidence has informed policies and guidelines that mandate the integration of palliative care and cancer care. However, unfortunately, many patients with cancer still do not get to access to palliative care due to a lack of integration. 

What has happened so far? 

We are carrying out a type of literature review called a realist synthesis. To meet our aims, we will be searching for evidence on how and why integrated palliative care ‘works’ in different healthcare settings and different stages of illness. We will include evidence from a range of perspectives (patients, caregivers, healthcare professionals, and others) and research methods (qualitative, mixed methods, and economic evaluations). We have established a group of national and international stakeholders, including policymakers, healthcare professionals, and public contributors/patient representatives, to help us with our review. 

The project started in June 2023, and I officially joined the team in August 2023. My first task has been to consider how to narrow down the large quantity of evidence that could be included in the review, to identify a manageable and meaningful selection of articles. The next step will be to extract and organise the data included in these articles. Eventually, the findings from this process will be presented to our stakeholder group, to develop recommendations about how palliative care and oncology can be integrated in practice. 

What drew me to this project?

My experiences with family members have shown me that palliative care can make a huge difference, for the person with cancer and for all the people that care about them. But coping with advanced cancer without this input makes it more difficult to control pain, manage symptoms, and plan for what comes next, potentially making a sad and challenging time much more traumatic. I wanted to work on this project because I am hopeful it can  find ways to  address this imbalance and reduce the inequity of access, so that more people can receive palliative care.


Share this blog

more blogs


Integrating Palliative Care into Oncology Management: Lessons from Heart Failure

Integration of palliative care is the linchpin to effective management of chronic complex conditions such as heart failure and cancer. While more attention has been paid to integrating palliative care into oncology, efforts in heart failure management have faced multiple challenges. This blog is based on a recent realist review which explored the integration of palliative care into heart failure management…

Read More »

Meet the Team: Carrie

Carrie Jain is a public involvement representative from the Northern Ireland Cancer Research Consumer Forum. In this blog, she draws from her and her husband’s experience with cancer…

Read More »

Meet the Team: Elspeth

My name is Elspeth Banks. A former secondary school headteacher, I am a patient public involvement (PPI) representative who has been involved in cancer research for many years…

Read More »

Update On Our Early Findings

Cancer is one of the leading causes of death, in the UK and worldwide. The number of people who are living with cancer is expected to rise in line with an aging population and medical successes with treatment.

Read More »

Working with the Stakeholder Group

Existing evidence shows that integrating palliative care and cancer care could improve quality of life for patients and their caregivers, at the same time as reducing the costs to the health services.  This evidence has motivated us to carry out the current research project – Integrating Palliative Care and Oncology (IPCO) – so that this potential can be realised in practice…

Read More »

Meet the Team: Sharon

I was delighted to be invited to be involved in this study from both a professional and personal perspective.

I spent the last 30 years of my nursing career…

Read More »