Academic position: Principal Research Fellow
Bella was awarded her PhD in Sociology of Knowledge at Edinburgh University in 2004. Her central research interests are spiritual care and wellbeing, the experiences of people living with chronic and/or life-limiting illnesses, and the social construction of knowledge. She is currently Principal Research Fellow in the Marie Curie Palliative Care Research Department at UCL, and co-chair of the EAPC Spiritual Care Reference Group. Bella has worked in multiple research organisations, on a broad range of collaborative qualitative or mixed methods studies, including developing PROM tools, and exploring people’s experiences with chronic fatigue, arthritis, advanced multiple sclerosis, liver conditions, and with sedative medication and palliative chemotherapy. She was co-PI 2002-17 on an international study to develop and validate a measure of spiritual wellbeing for people receiving palliative care for cancer. The final measure, the EORTC QLQ-SWB32, was validated with 451 participants in 14 countries and 10 languages, and has since been validated in another seven languages, and with people living with non-palliative cancer conditions.
Bella is a social scientist (trained as an anthropologist/sociologist) conducting research into palliative care, using qualitative and mixed methods methodologies. Her main research interest is spiritual care and spiritual wellbeing, particularly from an international and intranational diversity perspective, and with linguistic and discourse analysis understandings, especially the use of metaphor (she studied Spanish as a minor subject as an undergraduate, and taught English as a foreign language for five years prior to beginning postgraduate study). Bella also has interests and research involvement and experience in the use of sedation in palliative care, prognosis of end of life, quality of life, and measure development. Bella has previously conducted research into areas such as the experiences of people living with advanced multiple sclerosis, women's experiences of conducting art when living with chronic illness, and women's experiences of decision-making around palliative chemotherapy.
Bella is currently supervising two first year doctoral students, one exploring spiritual care and the use of the EORTC QLQ-SWB32 measure of spiritual wellbeing with palliative care patients from minority ethnic communities in London, the other conducting work to develop a core outcome set for research into accuracy of end-of-life prognoses for palliative care patients, staff and researchers.