Closing the mental health treatment gap in palliative care

Julianne Whyte, Janelle Thomas, Kirsty Smith, Janelle Wheat

Research output: Other contribution to conferencePosterpeer-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.

All HCP registered for the LAR 2-day workshops were invited to complete an online survey prior to commencing training. Participants were surveyed again at 3-, 6- and 9-months post-training to compare changes in self-reported confidence and frequency of use of MH screening and therapeutic tools.

More than two thirds of responses from NSW were from HCP in regional (33%) and rural (34%) areas. Pre-training surveys show 75% of all HCP regularly screen for MH issues, which increased to 91% 3-months post-training. Half of respondents pre-training were not confident applying the two most commonly used diagnostic tools, and this decreased to one third in surveys 3-months after training. Mindfulness is the most commonly used therapeutic approach both before training (81% of respondents) and 3-months after (91% of respondents), and confidence in using this therapy increased from 55% in pre-training surveys to 72% 3-months after training.

Data from surveys 6- and 9-months after training are still being collected, however initial responses 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 and 3-, 6- and 9-months post-training.

Take home message
Palliative care patients have unique needs when it comes to identifying and treating their mental health concerns. Providing targeted training to HCP is an important approach to bridging the gap between mental and physical health service provision, and to improve the welfare of these patients along with their families and caregivers.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 27 Sep 2017
Event2017 NSW Rural Health & Research Congress - Wagga Civic Theatre, Wagga Wagga, Australia
Duration: 27 Sep 201729 Sep 2017 (presentations)


Conference2017 NSW Rural Health & Research Congress
Abbreviated titleOur future - world class rural health
CityWagga Wagga
Internet address


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