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EAPC Reference Group on Public Health and Palliative Care


The reference group has its own newsletter that is sent out twice per year via e-mail – in March and in September. The newsletter is an accessible dive into the world of public health and palliative care. It offers news, reflections, policy and practice updates and overviews of existing projects and will keep you up-to-date with interesting events, calls and resources. The first issue was published on 25 March 2020. SUBSCRIBE HERE

November 2022
March 2022
October 2021
March 2021
September 2020
March 2020


Palliative care and end-of-life care have come a long way in the past twenty years. We have seen a number of strategic shifts in thinking about what PC is, what it should deliver and to whom. From being a service historically designed to address the needs of advanced cancer patients in the last days or weeks of life, research evidence and best practice models of PC now suggest that there is an urgent need for early intervention across a spectrum of chronic life-threatening illnesses and that PC has the potential to contribute to the quality of dying and the quality of life in advanced illness and at the end of life. There is also an increasing awareness that in order to improve the circumstances surrounding dying we require public health approaches alongside health service approaches. These need to look at aspects of health beyond those within the mandate of healthcare services and also to engage actors other than just the health professionals involved in palliative care and end-of-life care.

Palliative care began with, and continues to focus on, tertiary level interventions that prioritise inpatient facilities and specialist service providers.  A primary health care approach is in evidence in some parts of the world with extensive use of general practitioners or community nurses providing initial assessment and sharing responsibilities with specialists in providing adequate interventions.  A population health approach to palliative care is the most under-developed angle at this stage of palliative care service development, yet it is the approach that has the most potential to enhance the quality of life and sense of wellbeing of the widest number of people in sickness and in health, in dying and in loss, and in all aspects of caring for one another.  Interest in a public health approach to palliative care has been growing worldwide and this is evidenced by the international literature in the field, the organisation of conferences and the establishment a professional association (PHPCI).

Public health approaches involve:

  • strategies for the planning and development of appropriate service provision in palliative care;
  • strategies for the monitoring of the needs assessment, quality of palliative care and social equity at a population level;
  • strategies for community involvement in health and wellbeing, including multiple experiences of death, dying, loss and care.  This ‘new’ public health in palliative care is also known as health-promoting palliative care and involves organising public health actions in palliative care and evaluating their outcomes.

Upcoming activities
–        Summer School Public Health & Palliative Care Research, 14-17 September 2022, Ghent, Belgium. More information

–     7th Public Health Palliative Care International conference (PHPCI) in Bruges (BE), September 20-23, 2022. The congress title is: “Democratizing caring, dying and grieving: participation, action, understanding and evaluation”. The conference brings together leading innovators, researchers, practitioners, policy makers, representatives of civic society in the public health palliative care approach. The main conference venue will be the brand new Bruges Meeting & Convention Centre. More information

Recent outputs

EAPC Blogs:

February 2022: Does big data have a role in palliative care research? By Joachim Cohen

January 2022: What happens when palliative care is neglected as a public health priority? By Luc Deliens

The abstracts of the online 2nd International Seminar of EAPC RN and the EAPC Reference Group on Public Health and Palliative Care “Public Health Research in Palliative Care: Towards Solutions for Global Challenges’’ are published in Palliative Care and Social Practice: https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1177/26323524211003703


The reference group on public health and palliative care brings together all the major public health initiatives in palliative care in Europe.

The main aim is to promote and improve palliative care via public health approaches and promote public health and health promotion as essential elements of national and international palliative care policies and strategies. It will also develop a network of public health researchers within the EAPC RN.

The core group of the reference group consists of key persons in research and/or policy with a clear public health background or public health research or policy profile.

End-of- Life Care Research Group
Vrije Universiteit Brussel & Ghent University, Belgium

End-of- Life Care Research Group
Vrije Universiteit Brussel & Ghent University, Belgium

End-of- Life Care Research Group
Vrije Universiteit Brussel & Ghent University, Belgium


EAPCpublichealth@vub.be VUB, End-of-Life Care Research Group Laarbeeklaan 103 1090 Brussels Belgium


  • Samar Aoun, La Trobe University, Australia
  • Marie-Charlotte Bouësseau, World Health Organization (WHO), France
  • Allan Kellehear, University of Bradford, United Kingdom
  • Sonja McIlfatrick, Northern Ireland – EAPC Board link
  • John Rosenberg, president of the PHPCI, Australia
  • Libby Sallnow, St Christopher’s United Kingdom
  • Agnes van der Heide, Erasmus MC, The Netherlands

Please find the list of affiliated members here


  • EAPC, EAPC research network
  • Public Health Palliative Care International(PHPCI)
  • European Public Health Association (EUPHA)
  • WHO, WHO collaborative centres in palliative care

The following Task Forces are supported by the Reference Group:


  • Exploring other possible links with international public health partners
  • Continue to develop a network and forum (e.g. newsletter, website, etc) of public health researchers in EAPC
  • Promote training and educational development in public health and palliative care at both undergraduate and graduate levels
  • Developing policy recommendations regarding public health and palliative care for international organisations
  • Support and develop research opportunities in public health and palliative care across EU countries and beyond, e.g. international mobility in science, collaborative research actions, etc.
  • Promoting and disseminating research methods in palliative care, e.g. editing a reader on “Research Methods on Public Health and Palliative Care”, organising preconference workshops, etc.

Core Publications

Sallnow L, Smith R, Ahmedzai SH, Bhadelia A, Chamberlain C, Cong Y, Doble B, Dullie L, Durie R, Finkelstein EA, Guglani S, Hodson M, Husebø BS, Kellehear A, Kitzinger C, Knaul FM, Murray SA, Neuberger J, O’Mahony S, Rajagopal MR, Russell S, Sase E, Sleeman KE, Solomon S, Taylor R, Tutu van Furth M, Wyatt K; Lancet Commission on the Value of Death. Report of the Lancet Commission on the Value of Death: bringing death back into life. Lancet. 2022 Feb 26;399(10327):837-884. doi: 10.1016/S0140-6736(21)02314-X. Epub 2022 Feb 1.

Cohen J. Serious illness, dying and grieving as public health issues. Public Health. 2021 Sep;198:59-61. doi: 10.1016/j.puhe.2021.06.016. Epub 2021 Aug 5.

Assessing the development of palliative care worldwide: a set of actionable indicators https://www.who.int/publications/i/item/9789240033351 (WHO: steering committee member Marie-Charlotte Bouësseau)

Quality health services and palliative care: practical approaches and resources to support policy, strategy and practice

https://www.who.int/publications/i/item/9789240035164 (WHO: steering committee member Marie-Charlotte Bouësseau)

Jason Mills , John P. Rosenberg, Georg Bollig & John Haberecht (2020): Last Aid and Public Health Palliative Care: Towards the development of personal skills and strengthened community action, Progress in Palliative Care, DOI: 10.1080/09699260.2020.1829798

Allan Kellehear (2020) Compassionate Cities: global significance and meaning for palliative care, Progress in Palliative Care, 28:2, 115-119, DOI: 10.1080/09699260.2019.1701835

Samar M. Aoun (2020): Bereavement support: From the poor cousin of palliative care to a core asset of compassionate communities, Progress in Palliative Care, DOI: 10.1080/09699260.2019.1706277

Pivodic L., Cohen J. (2019) Public Health and Epidemiological Research in Palliative Care. In: MacLeod R., Van den Block L. (eds) Textbook of Palliative Care. Springer, Cham

Aoun SM, Breen LJ, Rumbold B, Christian KM, Same A, Abel J (2019). Matching response to need: What makes social networks fit for providing bereavement support? PLoS ONE 14(3): e0213367. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0213367

Sallnow L., Paul S. (2019) New Public Health Approaches to End-of-Life Care. In: MacLeod R., Van den Block L. (eds) Textbook of Palliative Care. Springer, Cham

Maetens A., Cohen J., Harding R. (2018) A Public Health Approach to Integrate Palliative Care into a Country’s Health-Care System: Guidance as Provided by the WHO. In: MacLeod R., Van den Block L. (eds) Textbook of Palliative Care. Springer, Cham

Sallnow L, Tishelman C, Lindqvist O, Richardson H, Cohen J. Research in public health and end-of-life care – Building on the past and developing the new. Progress in Palliative Care, 2016, 24(1):25-30.

Complete list of publications

Policy & Social Action

World Health Organization. Planning and Implementing Palliative Care Services: A Guide for Programme Managers. World Health Organization. 2016.
The full report can be downloaded for free here

World Health Organization. Clinical management of COVID-19, interim guidance, 27 May 2020
The full report can be downloaded for free here 

National awareness campaigns on palliative care:


Overview of tools and resources for building compassionate communities