Bridging The Mental Health Treatment Gap In Palliative Care

Julianne Whyte, Janelle Thomas, Kirsty Smith, Janelle Wheat

Research output: Other contribution to conferencePosterpeer-review


Background The issue of mental health (MH) in palliative patients is well-documented; there is a skills gap in the health workforce caring for these patients around identifying and addressing patients’ MH concerns. The ‘Listen Acknowledge Respond’ project was established to fill this gap by delivering training for healthcare professionals (HCP) to address the MH needs of those living with dying, and investigating the impact of the training on HCP practice.

Aim To investigate changes in HCP skills and confidence using MH tools and therapies after attending a two-day workshop around MH in palliative care.

Methods Free two-day workshops were developed and delivered to HCP working in palliative care (PC) services Australia-wide. Participants completed surveys pre-training and at 3, 6 and 9 months post-training, to record self-reported knowledge, skills and confidence using MH tools and therapies pre-training; and measure the changes in these attributes after training.

Key Learnings A significant proportion of HCP surveyed pre-training are not confident addressing the MH needs of their palliative patients, despite having to do this as part of their practice. Post-training findings indicate that the training has improved HCP’s awareness of and response to their patients’ MH concerns.

Results Before training 73% of HCP regularly screen for MH issues, yet less than half (39%) are confident applying the five most commonly used screening tools. In addition, only about half (55%) of respondents who use therapeutic approaches pre-training feel confident doing so. Post-training surveys show HCPs’ self-reported knowledge, skills and confidence in using MH tools and therapies has increased significantly since participating in the training. This poster will provide an overview of survey findings conducted pre-training and 3-months post-training.

Conclusions Providing targeted training to HCP is an effective and important approach to bridging the gap between mental and physical health service provision, as evidenced by increased use and confidence in using common mental health tools and applying key therapeutic approaches.

Research Implications Development and delivery of more targeted MH training in PC would be highly valuable to further improve HCP skills and confidence.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages1
Publication statusPublished - 26 Oct 2017
Event5th Australian Palliative Care Research Colloquium - Rendezvous Hotel, Melbourne, Australia
Duration: 26 Oct 201727 Oct 2017 (Conference website) (Call for abstracts) (Conference handbook)


Conference5th Australian Palliative Care Research Colloquium
Abbreviated titleLearn. Connect. Collaborate.
OtherOn behalf of the Scientific Committee, we wish to extend a warm welcome to the 5th Australian Palliative Care Research Colloquium.

The Colloquium was initially conceived as an opportunity to bring together those involved in the provision of evidence based care of patients with advanced disease to learn, connect and collaborate, and we are delighted with the continued success and popularity of these gatherings.

Our 2017 program has been developed incorporating participants’ feedback from last year, and is especially exciting given the diversity of topics and the calibre of our presenters.

We believe the strength of our Colloquia arises from the focus on deliberations about research methods and their application to the clinical setting. Within these meetings, our intent is to learn from one other by sharing research insights, discussing novel ideas, and creating new partnerships/ collaborations.

We look forward to your contribution to our 2017 Colloquium and hope that it provides you with an invaluable opportunity to not only enhance your research skills but also foster collaborations.
Internet address

Grant Number

  • 101104
  • 101105


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