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Professor Irene Higginson

Professor Irene Higginson

Director of the Cicely Saunders Institute

Giving terminally ill people and their families better care

‘What’s brilliant about King’s is that it is investing in palliative and end of life care at a time when it is underfunded across the UK.’

Home to the world’s first purpose built institute for palliative care, King’s is at the forefront of relieving and preventing the suffering of patients and their families. This is an overlooked field that is becoming increasingly important in our rapidly ageing society.

‘Our research is allowing us to alleviate a patient’s symptoms, at a time when it’s incredibly important to them and their families.’

Professor Higginson’s research enabled her to design the Palliative care Outcome Scale (POS), a simple questionnaire, which thoroughly assesses patients’ symptoms and emotional needs to improve their quality of life. Now used in 28 countries across four continents, it has revolutionised the way patients and families are cared for across the world.

Professor Higginson’s latest research focuses on breathlessness, a symptom that pervades many chronic illnesses. Breathlessness, which Professor Higginson compares to breathing through a straw, affects over two million people in the UK each year. Professor Higginson has recently developed a highly effective Support Service, which reduces breathlessness and improves survival through simple measures such as exercises to strengthen muscles.

>> Read more about how Professor Irene Higginson is reshaping palliative care in our Research in Action series.

>> Listen to Professor Higginson and other palliative care experts from the Cicely Saunders Institute discussing some of the key issues affecting end of life and palliative care.