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The psychosocial needs of students conducting research with patients and their families in advanced cancer and palliative care: A scoping review

  • Jamie L. Penner (a1), Moire Stevenson (a2), Monica P. Parmar (a1) (a3) and Emmanuelle Bélanger (a4)



The objective of this article was to explore the extent of the scientific literature and evidence base about the psychosocial needs of students conducting research in the fields of advanced cancer and palliative care.


A scoping review was conducted in major scientific databases. English-language articles on the topic of interest were retained if they were published in peer-reviewed journals between 1995 and 2013.


A total of 3,161 references were screened, and 7 were retained for analysis. Only two articles were empirical studies involving the collection of primary empirical data. The remaining ones were commentaries and personal reflections. While there is a near absence of empirical research about the psychosocial needs of students, several commentaries suggest that students in this field have a high need for support. Three themes were identified in the limited literature retrieved: (1) the importance of proper training and supervision; (2) the availability of emotional support structures; and (3) the use of effective and deliberate self-care strategies.

Significance of results:

This scoping review demonstrates that little is known about the psychosocial needs of students conducting research in advanced cancer and palliative care. However, what is clear is that there is a large emotional impact on student researchers engaged in this type of work. Adequate training and support is needed to promote students' health and well-being, encourage retention of students, and foster high-quality studies. More empirical data are needed to better understand the experiences of students conducting this type of research and to ensure the sustainability of training and research in this field.


Corresponding author

Address correspondence and reprint requests to: Jamie L. Penner, Hôpital Général Juif Sir Mortimer B. Davis, H-362 3755 Côte Sainte Catherine, Montreal, Quebec H3 T 1E2, Canada. E-mail:


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The psychosocial needs of students conducting research with patients and their families in advanced cancer and palliative care: A scoping review

  • Jamie L. Penner (a1), Moire Stevenson (a2), Monica P. Parmar (a1) (a3) and Emmanuelle Bélanger (a4)


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