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Dr Katherine Bristowe

Research Associate

Phone: 0207 848 5521
Fax: 0207 848 5517


I am a sociolinguist by background, and my primary research interest is in communication between health professionals and patients in clinical encounters, and how that interaction shapes the experience for patients and their families. I have particular interest in communication in Palliative Care, Obstetrics, and Surgical specialties, in inpatient, outpatient and community settings.


I graduated with a BA (Hons) in English Language and Linguistics, from the University of Wales, Bangor (2000). I then went on to complete an MA in Linguistic Studies (2004), and a PhD in Linguistics (2010), both at the University of Essex. My PhD thesis was a linguistic analysis of outpatient plastic surgery consultations in a teaching hospital, with a particular focus on consultations with multiple health professionals present.

In 2009 I moved to the University of the West of England where I worked on a study exploring teamwork, team communication and leadership in obstetric emergencies. 

I joined the Cicely Saunders Institute in 2010, and since then have worked on a number of projects with a broad focus on widening access to palliative care, social exclusion and health inequalities.  

In 2010 I started work on a project looking to improve the care for people living with renal disease approaching the end of life (The Advanced Renal Care Project). In 2012, I moved to the AMBER care bundle evaluation project.  This project was a comparative observational study of the AMBER care bundle, which was designed to improve care for people who are deteriorating, clinically unstable, with limited reversibility and at risk of dying in the next 1-2 months. In 2014, I commenced work on the ACCESSCare study, looking to improve the care for people who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual and/or trans* and who are facing the later stages of a life limiting illness. In 2016, I joined the OACC (Outcome Assessment and Complexity Collaborative) team as Project Manager, to oversee the two research studies running alongside OACC, looking at the implementation and effects of outcome measures in palliative care.


Key Leadership Roles

Personal Tutor on the MSc in Palliative Care and module lead for the Psychosocial and Advanced Psychosocial modules.

Selected Publications
  • Sleeman K, Koffman J, Bristowe K, Rumble C, Burman R, Leonard S, Noble J, Dampier O, Bernal W, Hopkins P, Prentice W, Higginson IJ (2015). ‘It doesn’t do the care for you’: a qualitative study of health care professionals’ perceptions of the benefits and harms of Integrated Care Pathways for end of life care prior to the Neuberger Review. BMJ Open bmjopen-2015-008242.
  • Lowney AC, Myles HT, Bristowe K, Lowney EL, Shepherd K, Murphy M, O' Brien T, Casserly L, McQuillan RJ, Plant WD, Conlon PJ, Vinen K, Eustace JA, Murtagh FE.  (2015). Understanding what influences the health-related quality of life of our haemodialysis patients: a collaborative study in England and Ireland. Journal of Pain and Symptom Management:
  • Martin, S & Bristowe K (2015).  Last offices: nurses’ experiences of the process and their views about involving significant others.  International Journal of Palliative Nursing, 21 (4): 173-178.
  • Bristowe K, Carey I, Hopper A, Shouls S, Prentice W, Caulkin R, Higginson I, Koffman J (2015). Care experiences of clinical uncertainty and deterioration, in the face of limited reversibility: a comparative observational study of the AMBER care bundle. Palliative Medicine, DOI:10.1177/0269216315578990. 
  • Weisser F, Bristowe K, Jackson D.  (2015). Experiences of burden, needs, rewards and resilience in family caregivers of people living with motor neurone disease (MND): a secondary thematic analysis of qualitative interviews.  Palliative Medicine, DOI: 10.1177/0269216315575851.
  • Bristowe K, Selman L, Murtagh FEM (2015). Qualitative research methods in renal medicine: an introduction.  Nephrology Dialysis Transplantation, DOI: 10.1093/ndt/gfu410.  
  • Carey I, Shouls S, Bristowe K, Morris M, Briant L, Robinson C, Caulkin R, Griffiths M, Clarke K, Koffman J, Hopper A. (2015).  Improving care for patients whose recovery is uncertain. The AMBER care bundle: design, implementation and clinical outcomes.  BMJ Supportive and Palliative Care, 5 (1): 12-18.
  • Bristowe K, Horsley H, Shepherd K, Brown H, Carey I, Matthews B, O’Donoghue D, Vinen K, Murtagh FEM. (2015). Thinking Ahead: The Importance of Early Advance Care Planning for Haemodialysis Patients.   Palliative Medicine, 29 (5): 443-450.
  • Bristowe K & Patrick PL. (2014).  ‘Any questions?’ Doctors’ Usage of Invitations to Ask Questions (IAQs) in Outpatient Plastic Surgery Consultations.  Patient, Education and Counseling, 97 (3): 347-351.
  • Bristowe K, Shepherd K, Bryan L, Brown H, Carey I, Matthews B, O’Donoghue D, Vinen K, Murtagh F. (2014).  The development and piloting of the REnal specific Advanced Communication Training (REACT) programme to improve Advance Care Planning for renal patients.  Palliative Medicine, 28 (4): 360-366.
  • Bristowe K & Harris PM. (2014).  Michel Foucault: Discourse in the Modern Medical Consultation.  Medical Education, 48 (6): 552-553. 
  • Siassakos D, Fox R, Bristowe K, Angouri J, Hambly H, Robson L, Draycott T. (2013).  What makes maternity teams effective and safe?  Lessons from a series of research on teamwork, leadership and team training.  Acta Obstetricia et Gynecologica Scandinavica, 92 (11): 1239-1243. 
  • Bristowe K, Siassakos D, Hambly H, Angouri J, Yelland A, Fox R & Draycott T  (2012). Leadership and Teamwork for Clinical Emergencies: Multisite Interprofessional Focus Group Analysis. Qualitative Health Research, 22 (10): 1383-1394.
  • Bristowe K & Patrick PL. (2012).  Do too many cooks spoil the broth?  The effect of observers on doctor-patient interaction. Medical Education, 46 (8): 785-794.
  • Siassakos D, Bristowe K, Draycott T, Angouri J, Hambly H, Winter C, Crofts J, Hunt L, Fox R (2011). Clinical efficiency in a simulated emergency and relationship to team behaviours: a multisite cross-sectional study. British Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, 118 (5): 596-607. 
  • Siassakos D, Bristowe K, Hambly H, Angouri J, Crofts J, Winter C, Hunt L, & Draycott T (2011). Team Communication with Patient-Actors: findings from a multisite simulation study.   Simulation in Healthcare, 6 (3): 143-149.

I teach on two modules for the MSc in Palliative Care, including sessions on: questionnaire design; qualitative methods; the ethics of communication and choice; and sexuality and gender variance. In addition, I have co-designed and delivered a renal specific advanced communication training programme as part of the Advanced Renal Care Project.

Selected Grants

ESRC +3 PhD Funding – Acquired through open competition.

Critical Impact

As part of the Advanced Renal Care Project, a number of changes were made to the service to improve care for patients with renal disease. These have included: routine three monthly screening of symptoms and quality of life, with patient reported outcome measures (POS-S renal - and EQ-5D); corresponding Multidisciplinary Team Meetings to discuss those with most need; renal specific advanced communication training to prepare the doctors and nurses to initiate, carry out and close discussions about preferences, future care, and advance care planning; new symptom guidelines; a toolkit to for clinicians with facts and information to address patients’ palliative and supportive needs; a gold register, our localised cause for concern register, for patients who have high symptom burden, low quality of life, and are thought to be at risk of dying within the next year; and improvements to the IT system to help create alerts for any concerns and to best manage the patients’ needs.

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