Realities and Myths of Palliative Care: It is Not the End of the Road!
Marie A. Bakitas, DNSc, APRN, AOCN, ACHPN, FAAN
Marie Bakitas, DNSc, NP-C, AOCN, ACHPN, FAAN
Professor & Marie L. O’Koren Endowed Chair, School of Nursing
Associate Director, UAB Center for Palliative and Supportive Care
Marie Bakitas is professor, Marie L. O’ Koren endowed chair, School of Nursing, and Associate Director, Center for Palliative and Supportive Care, Division of Geriatrics, Gerontology & Palliative Care at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. She has participated in and led clinical trials evaluating early palliative care (EPC) models for adults with life-limiting conditions living in rural areas since 1998. She served as co-investigator/project director of a RWJF-funded demonstration project, ENABLE (Educate, Nurture, Advise, Before Life Ends), which led to the Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center Palliative Care Consultation Service and two NIH-funded randomized controlled trials (RCTs) testing introduction of palliative care at the time of a new advanced cancer diagnosis. The ENABLE II RCT was prominently cited in the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) Provisional Clinical Opinion statement concluding that: “… combined standard oncology care and palliative care should be considered early in the course of illness for any patient with metastatic cancer and/or high symptom burden.” The ENABLE III trial examining palliative care timing, active ingredients, and biological mechanisms found advanced cancer patient survival benefits and improved caregiver quality of life, mood and reduced burden from EPC. ENABLE III was recognized in the 2016 ASCO Clinical Cancer Advances report as one of the year’s major achievements in clinical cancer research and care. She continues to develop innovative methods, such as tele-health and tele-consultation, to reduce health disparities for Deep South rural and minority cancer patients and family caregivers through an American Cancer Society-funded dissemination/implementation trial and as a consultant on an R21 (Elk:PI),. She has expanded this initiative to reach patients with advanced heart failure and their family caregivers through a completed National Palliative Care Research Center pilot grant and an in-progress NINR-funded R01 “ENABLE: CHF-PC: a Randomized Controlled Trial of a Concurrent Heart Failure Palliative Care Intervention for Rural, Older Adult and their Caregivers”. She was recognized by the UAB Minority Health Research Center 2016 Charles Barkley Excellence in Mentoring Award. Among other prestigious research and mentoring awards was the 2015 Friends of the National Institute of Nursing Research Path-Paver Award and the Oncology Nursing Society Distinguished Researcher Award (2016).