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Personal profile


I am Reader in Palliative Care at the University. I have over 20 years experience as a palliative medicine consultant, senior health services researcher and medical educator with a special interest in clinical communication.

Palliative Care Research

I have been involved in clinical research in palliative care throughout my career and in 1999 was a founder member of the Primary Palliative Care Research Group at The University of Edinburgh. I have led the PPCRG since the retirement of Emeritus Professor Scott Murray in 2018. This internationally recognised group has undertaken a wide range of high impact research studies focusing on the experiences of people with advanced illnesses, their family and professionals carers, alongside studies of health service developments, and clinical service related trials relevant to supportive and palliative care.

Since 2010, I have led the SPICT international programme which uses research and education to improve how we identify people with deteriorating health due to one or more advanced health conditions and offer these people and their families an holistic review of their needs and care planning. The SPICT programme has partners around the world and the Supportive and Palliative Care Indicators Tool (SPICT) is freely available to download from our website in several languages alongside a version in lay language (SPICT-4ALL) and one for use in low-income settings (SPICT-LIS).

Recent Research Projects

  • November 2020-April 2022. (4-ACP). Implementation of an integrated care planning and electronic care coordination intervention in primary care for people living at home or in a care home at risk of deteriorating or dying: mixed-method study across Scotland. Marie Curie (Chief Investigator) C-applicants: Mason B, Pinnock H, Shenkin S.
  • April 2018 to December 2020. (GI-ACP) Early palliative care in primary care for people starting palliative chemotherapy: feasibility randomised controlled study. Macmillan Cancer Support. (Principal Investigator) Co-applicants: Mason B, Weller D, Finucane A
  • Identifying people living at home for anticipatory care planning and palliative care needs assessment using electronic search tools to screen primary care records in SPIRE practices (AnticiPAL). (CSO, Catalytic grant, 2019-20) (Chief Investigator) 
  • Reaching consensus for core outcome measures for palliative and end-of-life care after severe stroke. (CSO, Catalytic grant, 2019) (Co-investigator), Mead GM, Boyd K, Mason B.
  • Supporting people with palliative and end-of-life care needs “out of hours”: a mixed-methods study of needs, demand and experiences to inform person-centred service developments.  (CSO/ Marie Curie, 2017-18) (Co-principal investigator) Murray SA, Boyd K, Mason B, Finucane A, Weir C.
  • Supportive care in the community for people living with advanced liver disease: a feasibility study (Chief Scientist Office, 2014-2016) Murray SA, Kendall M, Boyd K, Kimbell B, MacGilchrist A, Weir C, Finucane A, Hayes P, O'Carroll R, Brookes-Young P, Deighan M
  • Understanding the experiences and multi-dimensional needs of people with major stroke: a mixed methods study (CSO, 2014-2016) Mead G, Murray SA, Kendall M, Cowey E, Barber M, McAlpine C, Boyd K, Stott D.
  • Identifying patients with palliative care needs in primary care using existing IT infrastructure (IPPC). (Marie Curie & Edinburgh Lothian Health Foundation, 2015-2016) Murray SA, Mason B, Boyd K, Scully R, Steyn J, Kendall M, Morris L, McPherson S.
  • Phase 2 randomised trial of early versus delayed future care planning for patients with advanced heart disease. (Marie Curie Cancer Care, 2013-2014) Denvir M, Murray S, Boyd K, Weir C

Teaching and educational development

Since setting up the NHS Lothian based advanced clinical communication education programme (Effective Communication for Healthcare), I have continued to deliver and develop training for a wide range of doctors, other health and care professionals and clinical managers. This includes working with Boards across Scotland and with NHS Education for Scotland, Healthcare Improvement Scotland (ACP Toolkit) and the Scottish Government Digital ReSPECT programme. My role focuses on training staff in effective communication for shared decision-making conversations, future care planning and treatment escalation plans. Public information and engagement in ACP are vital and I work with NHS Inform (Anticipatory care planning) on their Scottish Anticipatory Care Planning information

Clinical Practice

I qualified in medicine (with Honours) from Glasgow University in 1983 and went on to train initially in hospital medicine, then as a general practitioner before completing my training as a palliative medicine specialist in 1992. I have worked in hospital palliative care since 1997 but also have experience of working in hospices and community palliative care services. I retired from NHS clinical practice in 2021.

Education/Academic qualification

Doctor of Medicine, Early Palliative Care for People with Advanced Illnesses: Research into Practice, College of Medicine and Veterinary Medicine

30 Nov 201512 Nov 2016

Award Date: 1 Mar 2016

Master in Science, Using Action Research to Develop an Education Programme in Clinical Communication for Consultants in NHS Scotland, University of Nottingham

1 Sept 20031 Sept 2005

Award Date: 1 Dec 2005

External positions

Eduational advisor and EC4H Programme Senior Tutor, NHS Lothian

16 Jun 1997 → …


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Collaborations and top research areas from the last five years

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