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CovPall Study

CovPall Study

Rapid evaluation of the COVID-19 pandemic response in palliative and end of life care: national delivery, workforce and symptom management (CovPall)


The CovPall project commenced in 2020 to try understand more about how palliative care services and hospices were responding to the COVID-19 pandemic, the problems that services and patients and families/those affected by COVID-19 were facing, and how to best respond. It comprises of two main components: a survey of hospices and palliative care services and then data collection of these services. For more information on the aims and methods of this research, please see below.

The CovPall Study has led also to three additional projects to improve and boost findings in key areas within palliative care during the COVID-19 pandemic. These key areas are the response of care homes (CovPall Care Homes), national data linkage (CovPall Connect), and rehabilitation (CovPall Rehab). 


In Work Package 1 (WP1), which is now complete, we wanted to find out how palliative care and hospice services have changed, how their staff, volunteers and others have adapted what they do, and their challenges and innovations.

In the ongoing Work package 2 (WP2), we want to know what symptoms and problems patients have, how they change over time, what treatments / therapies are used and what seems to work best.



We asked the clinical lead or a delegate from hospices and palliative care services (adult and children, all settings, voluntary hospices, inpatient, home care, hospital palliative care teams) to answer an on-line survey. The survey asked about their practices and how these have changed, and their challenges and innovations during the pandemic. WP1 closed on 31st July, 2020


Services collected pseudonymised information from the clinical records of around 10 patients with COVID-19 receiving palliative care input retrospectively, or where possible prospectively, at four time points, at first assessment in palliative care, in around two subsequent time points and at death or discharge (D or Di). Information to be collected will include the patient’s sociodemographic data, co-morbidities, symptoms, current medications given and others. WP2 closed on 19th February, 2021

Policy Briefs:
  • The challenges of caring for people dying from COVID-19: Policy Brief (link)
  • Specialist palliative care service innovation and practice change in response to COVID-19: Policy Brief (link)
  • Understanding and addressing challenges for Advance Care Planning in the COVID-19 pandemic: Policy Brief (link)

Here are some links to some of the project’s outreach activities:  

  • European Association of Palliative Care (EAPC):  
    • ‘What’s the role of palliative care and hospices in the COVID-19 pandemic? Evidence from a systematic review’ (April 2020) (link
    • ‘CovPall: A new study of the palliative care response to COVID-19’ (May 2020) (link
    • Three EAPC blogs on our papers for publication (2021) (link
  • 11th European Association of Palliative Care World Research Congress (October 2020): 
    • Professor Irene J. Higginson’s video presentation on “Role and responses of palliative care during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond” (link)  
    • Professor Catherine Walshe’s video presentation on “Protect or prohibit? The role of volunteers in palliative and hospice care services during the COVID-19 pandemic. An international survey (CovPall)”. (link

Principal Investigator – Professor Irene J Higginson | King's College London

CovPall Study Team:

  • Dr Sabrina Bajwah (Co-I) | King's College London
  • Dr Matthew Maddocks (Co-I) | King's College London
  • Prof Fliss Murtagh (Co-I) | Hull York Medical School
  • Prof Nancy Preston (Co-I) | Lancaster University
  • Dr Katherine Sleeman (Co-I) | King's College London
  • Prof Catherine Walshe (Co-I) | Lancaster University
  • Prof Lorna K Fraser (Co-I) | University of York
  • Dr Mevhibe B Hocaoglu (Co-I) | King's College London
  • Dr Adejoke Oluyase (Co-I) | King's College London
  • Dr Andrew Bradshaw | Hull York Medical School
  • Lesley Dunleavy | Lancaster University
  • Ian Garner | Lancaster University
  • Rachel Cripps | King's College London



  • Dunleavy L, Preston N, Bajwah S, Bradshaw A, Cripps R, Fraser LK, Maddocks M, Hocaoglu M, Murtagh FEM, Oluyase AO, Sleeman K, Higginson IJ, Walshe C. ‘Necessity is the mother of invention’: Specialist palliative care service innovation and practice change in response to COVID-19. Results from a multinational survey (CovPall). ( Accepted in Palliative Medicine
  • Bradshaw A, Dunleavy L, Walshe C, Preston N, Cripps R, Hocaoglu M, Bajwah S, Maddocks M, Oluyase AO, Sleeman K, Higginson IJ, Fraser LK, Murtagh FEM. Understanding and addressing challenges for Advance Care Planning in the COVID-19 pandemic: An analysis of the UK CovPall survey data from specialist palliative care services (  (submitted to Palliative Medicine)
Contact us

If you have questions you can contact us by email at Please use the following subject line "CovPall" so your query can be forwarded to the right team. 


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