The University of Newcastle, Australia

Improving mental health support for cancer and palliative care patients

Monday, 12 November 2018

Renowned mental-health authority, Professor Brian Kelly, has received international recognition for his extensive clinical research into the psychosocial aspects of cancer and palliative care.

Nurse holding patient hand

Professor Kelly was presented with the International Psycho-Oncology Society (IPOS) Bernard Fox Award earlier this month for providing patients and their carers with better access to mental health advice and treatment through support from frontline health professionals.

With cancer having a profound impact on both the patient and their families, the field of psycho-oncology investigates the psychological response to cancer at all stages of the disease and the psychological factors that may influence the disease process.

Professor Kelly’s extensive studies across mental health, palliative and end-of-life care have been used to support frontline staff to better identify a patient’s psychosocial needs and improve the support that is provided to them.

His research has formed the basis for a unique international collaboration in this field with the University of Calgary, Canada. This will develop research focussing on improving health care services, and addressing the needs of particular populations, including people in rural and regional areas, and Indigenous people with cancer.

His work has also explored the needs of people coping with cancer in rural areas, and ways we can improve health care to cancer patients more generally. He has a particular interest in building the skills of doctors in their treatment of patients receiving palliative care.

“Assisting clinicians to respond appropriately to the emotional distress experienced by people with cancer is a key focus of my research. We need to be working more closely with health professionals to help them be confident and capable in responding to patient needs,” Professor Kelly said.

Professor Kelly was presented with his award at the 2018 World Congress of Psycho-Oncology held in Hong Kong earlier this month.

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