Closing the mental health treatment gap in palliative care

Janelle Wheat, Kirsty Smith, Julianne Whyte, Janelle Thomas

Research output: Book chapter/Published conference paperConference paperpeer-review


Research shows there is a skills gap in the health workforce who care for terminally ill and palliative patients when it comes to identifying and addressing patients’ mental health (MH) concerns. The ‘Listen Acknowledge Respond’ (LAR) project was established to fill this gap by developing and delivering training for healthcare professionals (HCP) to address the MH needs of those living with dying, as well as investigating the impact of the training on HCP’s practice.

Surveys of HCP pre-training show 74% regularly screen for MH issues, yet less than half of respondents, on average, are not confident applying the five most commonly used assessment tools. In addition, strengths and solutions/task-focussed practice are the most commonly used therapeutic approaches, with 57% of respondents using these regularly with their patients and their caregivers, however only about half of these respondents feel confident using these approaches.

Post-training surveys and phone interviews with HCP who attended the LAR workshops show HCP’s self-reported knowledge, skills and confidence in using MH tools and therapies has increased significantly since participating in the LAR training. This presentation will provide an overview of survey and interview findings conducted pre-training (baseline) and 3 and 6-months post-training.

Providing targeted training to HCP is an important approach to bridging this gap between mental and physical health service provision, and to improve the welfare of these patients along with their families and caregivers.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the 18th International Mental Health Conference 2017
Subtitle of host publicationMental Health and the Journey of Life
Place of PublicationQueensland
PublisherAustralian and New Zealand Mental Health Association
Number of pages15
ISBN (Electronic)9781922232571
Publication statusPublished - 21 Aug 2017
Event18th International Mental Health Conference 2017 - Conference Centre, Sea World Resort, Gold Coast, Australia
Duration: 21 Aug 201723 Aug 2017 (Conference website)


Conference18th International Mental Health Conference 2017
Abbreviated titleMental Health and the Journey of Life
CityGold Coast
OtherThe 2017 Conference will be held at the Conference Centre, Sea World Resort, Gold Coast, Queensland from Monday 21 August – Wednesday 23 August 2017.
This year’s conference will examine a range of issues from the perspective of Primary Interventions, Promoting Recovery,  Preventing Relapse and the latest Policy Initiatives.

Mental health awareness and well-being strategies remain urgent public concerns.  The Conference will focus on the range of complex mental issues affecting the elderly including depression, dementia, delirium, paranoid disorders and anxiety. It will also explore the mental health issues of young Australians (aged 18 – 24 years) struggling with schizophrenia, depression, suicidal thoughts, bipolar, anxiety disorders and drug use and drug induced psychosis.

Mental health problems have become one of the leading causes for absenteeism from work and early retirement all over Australia. Maintaining good mental health at the workplace is therefore not only essential for the individual but also a challenge facing business and society as a whole. There is considerable business and political interest in tackling poor mental health at work.

The conference will also examine state, federal, international and COAG initiatives, early intervention strategies, validated treatments, suicide prevention and the effectiveness of mental health preventive measures.

Featuring Australia and New Zealand’s leading practitioners, academics, researchers, mental health experts, NGO’s and policy makers, the conference will motivate and inspire professionals (and future professionals).  All delegates will have access to the program podcast library and Book of Proceedings included in their registration fees.
Internet address

Grant Number

  • 101104
  • 101105


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