Project Summary

This research project is in progress. PCORI will post the research findings on this page within 90 days after the results are final.

What is the research about?

Many patients with cancer and their family members feel emotional and physical distress as they plan for, undergo, and recover from surgery.

Palliative care focuses on improving quality of life by preventing and relieving suffering. It can improve quality of life, symptoms, and survival in patients with cancer. Studies have shown the benefit of using palliative care with medical treatment for cancer, but no studies have looked at palliative care with cancer surgery.

This study is exploring whether palliative care helps patients having cancer surgery and their families.

Who can this research help?

Patients with cancer, their families, and doctors can use findings from this study to make decisions about care needs for surgery. Hospital administrators can use the study findings to inform decisions about services for patients with cancer.

What is the research team doing?

The research team is recruiting 380 patients who plan to have surgery for cancer in their pancreas, stomach, liver, gall bladder, or esophagus. Family members can also join the study. The team is assigning patients by chance to one of two groups. Both groups see their surgeon and surgical team before and after the surgery, and in the hospital. In one group, a palliative care team also sees patients before and after surgery, and in the hospital.

Before surgery and for three months after surgery, the team is measuring patients’ quality of life. The team is also tracking

  • Patients’ physical distress
  • Patient and family anxiety, depression, and spiritual distress
  • Which healthcare services patients use
  • Whether patients complete advance care plans
  • What patients and family members understand about the patients’ illnesses
  • Patient deaths

Patients, families, surgeons, and palliative care providers are working with the research team to design and conduct the study.

Research methods at a glance

Design Elements Description
Design Randomized controlled trial
Population Adult patients who plan to have surgery for pancreatic cancer, gastric cancer, liver cancer, gall bladder cancer, or esophageal cancer; patients’ family members.
  • Surgeon and surgical team management surrounding cancer surgery
  • Surgeon, surgical team, and palliative care team co-management surrounding cancer surgery

Primary: patient quality of life

Secondary: patient physical, psychological, and spiritual distress, cancer knowledge, mortality; family member psychological and spiritual distress, cancer knowledge, and caregiver burden

Timeframe Timeframe Length of follow-up for collecting data on primary outcomes. View Glossary 3-month follow-up for primary outcome

Project Information

Rebecca A. Aslakson MD, PhD
Stanford University^
A Multi-Center Randomized Controlled Trial of Perioperative Palliative Care Surrounding Cancer Surgery for Patients and their Family Members (the PERIOP-PC trial)

Key Dates

August 2017
February 2023

Study Registration Information

^This project was originally based at Johns Hopkins University in Maryland.


Has Results
Award Type
Health Conditions Health Conditions These are the broad terms we use to categorize our funded research studies; specific diseases or conditions are included within the appropriate larger category. Note: not all of our funded projects focus on a single disease or condition; some touch on multiple diseases or conditions, research methods, or broader health system interventions. Such projects won’t be listed by a primary disease/condition and so won’t appear if you use this filter tool to find them. View Glossary
Intervention Strategy Intervention Strategies PCORI funds comparative clinical effectiveness research (CER) studies that compare two or more options or approaches to health care, or that compare different ways of delivering or receiving care. View Glossary
State State The state where the project originates, or where the primary institution or organization is located. View Glossary
Last updated: May 16, 2023