Kim Widger Headshot 2013

Connaught New Researcher Award Recipient Advances the Study of Paediatric Palliative Care

10 May 2013

Conducting outstanding research in her field of paediatric palliative care, Dr. Kimberley Widger will continue her progress, aided by a Connaught New Researcher Award.  This $10,000 award will be used to conduct a cross-Canada study of formal paediatric palliative care programs, the types of services they provide and the children who receive these services. Data from this study will be compared to information gathered by Widger and colleagues in 2002 to explore the changes and advancements in paediatric palliative care provision over the 10-year period.

“The Connaught New Researcher Award will allow me the opportunity to gather important baseline data that will be used to further develop delivery of paediatric palliative care in Canada and internationally,” said Widger.  “We need to invest in finding meaningful ways to support children and families and this award will be used to lay the foundation for further work in this area.”

Since 2002, growth in specialized paediatric palliative care programs has steadily increased.  Originally only eight programs existed across all of Canada and that number has almost doubled to 14 by the year 2012. “Paediatric palliative care services are expanding, but it is important to document who receives these services and even more importantly, who does not,” said Widger.  In 2002, only five to 12 per cent of children who could have benefited from these programs received this care.  Gathering data from each of the 14 programs along with examining Statistics Canada data, Widger and her team will explore the developments of paediatric palliative care over the last 10 years to see if more children have received this care.

“I’m fascinated to know how things have changed and, in particular, to follow-up on a couple of trends that were just starting a decade ago,” said Widger. “We will have extra emphasis the number of referrals for families who found out that their baby would be born with a life-threatening illness and may not live long after birth, and also children who are living longer than expected with their illnesses and need referrals to adult palliative care services for ongoing care.”

Previous Bloomberg Nursing recipients include Dr. Doris Leung, Dr. Martine Puts, Dr. Monica Parry, Dr. Michael McGillion and Dr. Robyn Stremler.  All have used their Connaught Award to foster excellence in research and innovation, as a new faculty member launching their academic career, through the opportunities provided by this University of Toronto grant initiative.