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About the psycho-oncology research department

The discipline of psycho-oncology focusses on helping patients adapt to the diagnosis and treatment of cancer, from early-stage disease to survivorship, and palliative care to eventually bereavement care for the surviving family. In this sense it is both patient and family-centred in its orientation.

Clinical services are delivered by psychiatrists and psychologists through the Cabrini Haematology and Oncology Centre. Our research program occurs in parallel and focusses on advancing adaptation to the illness.

Team members

  • Cabrini Foundation Research Grant. ‘Meaning and Purpose (MaP) therapy randomised controlled trial’ (2019-2022), $80,000 Kissane D, Lethborg K, Bobevski I, Michael N.
  • Curran Foundation, St Vincent’s Sydney. ‘Meaning and Purpose (MaP) therapy randomised controlled Trial’ (2019-2022), $99,000 Kissane D, Lethborg K, Bobevski I, Michael N.
  • Commonwealth Dept of Health Palliative Care Project. ‘Education and assessment for psycho-existential wellbeing in palliative care’ (2020-2023), $1,062,342 Kissane D, Michael N, Lobb.
  • Bobevski I, Kissane DW, Vehling S, Mehnert-Theuerkauf A, Belvederi Murri M, Grassi L. (2022) Demoralisation and its link with depression, psychological adjustment and suicidality among cancer patients: A network psychometrics approach. Cancer Med 11(3):815-825. Doi: 10.1002/cam4.4406.
  • Chau R, Kissane DW, Davison TE. (2020) Risk factors for depression in aged care: The contribution of a meaningful life, mastery and environmental fit. Australasian Journal on Ageing 39: e368-e374. doi.org/10.1111/ajag.12792.
  • Gan LL, Gong S, Kissane DW. (2021) Mental state of demoralisation across diverse clinical settings: A systematic review, meta-analysis and proposal for its use as a ‘specifier’ in mental illness. Aust N Z J Psychiatry. Doi: 10.1177/00048674211060746.
  • Kim SY, Kissane DW, Richardson G, Senior J, Morgan J, Gregory P, Birks S, Ooi C, Lipton L, Antill Y, Vereker M, Michael N, Bobevski I. (2022) The role of depression and other psychological factors in work ability among breast cancer survivors in Australia. Psychooncology  31(2):167-175. Doi: 10.1002/pon.5802.
  • Kissane DW (2020) Depression, demoralisation and suicidality. Ch 13.2 in Oxford Textbook of Palliative Medicine, 6th Edition. N Cherny, M Fallon, S Kaasa, RK Portenoy, DC Currow, (Eds). Oxford, Oxford University Press.
  • Kissane DW (2020) Bereavement. Ch 13.5 in Oxford Textbook of Palliative Medicine, 6th Edition. N Cherny, M Fallon, S Kaasa, RK Portenoy, DC Currow, (Eds). Oxford, Oxford University Press.
  • Kissane DW. (2020) Supportive-expressive and other forms of group psychotherapy in cancer care. Ch 56 In Psycho-Oncology, 4th Edition. WS. Breitbart, P. Butow, PB. Jacobsen, MJ. Loscalzo, et al, Eds. New York, Oxford University Press.
  • Kissane DW, Bylund CL. (2020) Principles of communication skills training in cancer care across the life span and illness trajectory. Ch 100 in Psycho-Oncology, 4th Edition. WS. Breitbart, P. Butow, PB. Jacobsen, MJ. Loscalzo, et al, Eds. New York, Oxford University Press.
  • Kissane DW, Grossman C, O’Callaghan C. (2020) Research into Psychosocial Issues. Ch 22.5 in Oxford Textbook of Palliative Medicine, 6th Edition. N Cherny, M Fallon, S Kaasa, RK Portenoy, DC Currow, (Eds). Oxford, Oxford University Press.
  • Lethborg C, Kissane DW. (2020) The family perspective. Ch 6.1 in Oxford Textbook of Palliative Medicine, 6th Edition. N Cherny, M Fallon, S Kaasa, RK Portenoy, DC Currow, (Eds). Oxford, Oxford University Press.
  • Lichtenthal WG, Roberts KE, Prigerson HG, Kissane DW. (2020) Bereavement interventions in the setting of cancer care. Ch 65 in Psycho-Oncology, 4th Edition. WS. Breitbart, P. Butow, PB. Jacobsen, MJ. Loscalzo, et al, Eds. New York, Oxford University Press.
  • Manne S, Kashy D, Myers-Virtue S, Zaider T, Kissane D, Heckman C, Kim I, Penedo F, Lee D. (2020) Relationship communication and the course of psychological outcomes among couples coping with localised prostate cancer. European Journal of Cancer Care. 30(4):e13401. doi:10.1111/ecc.13401.
  • McGilvray SA, Kissane, DW (2020). Counseling in palliative care. Ch 57 in Bruera E, Higginson I, von Gunten C, Morita , Editors, Textbook of Palliative Medicine and Supportive Care, 3rd Edition, CRC Press, Taylor & Francis.
  • Michael NG, Bobevski I, Georgousopoulou E, O’Callaghan CC, Clayton JM, Seah D, Kissane DW. (2020) Unmet spiritual needs in palliative care: psychometrics of a screening checklist. BMJ Supportive & Palliative Care. bmjspcare-2020-002636. doi:10.1136/bmjspcare-2020-002636.
  • O’Callaghan C, Georgousopoulou E, Seah D, Clayton JM, Kissane DW, Michael N. (2020) Spirituality and religiosity in a palliative medicine population: mixed methods study. BMJ Supp Pall Care bmjspcare-2020-002261. doi.org/10.1136/bmjspcare-2020-002261.
  • Parker PA, Banerjee SC, Matasar MJ, Bylund CL, Schofield E, Li Y, Jacobsen PB, Astrow AB, Leventhal H, Horwitz S, Kissane D. (2020) Cancer worry and empathy moderate the effect of a survivorship-focused intervention on quality of life. Psycho-Oncology 29(6):1012-1018. doi:10.1002/pon.5371.
  • Watson M, Kissane DW, Editors (2020). Psycho-Oncology Care – Companion Guides for Clinicians II: Sexual health, fertility and relationships in cancer care. Oxford University Press, New York.
  • Wenham J, Best M, Kissane DW. (2022) Author reply. Intern Med J 52(1):164. doi: 10.1111/imj.15646.
  • Zaider T, Kissane DW. (2020) Couples work in cancer care: supporting intimate connections. In M. Watson, D. Kissane (Eds). Psycho-Oncology Care: Companion Guides for Clinicians II: Sexual Health, Fertility and Relationships in Cancer Care. New York, Oxford University Press.
  • Zaider TI, Kissane DW, Schofield E, Li Y, Masterson M. (2020) Cancer‐related communication during sessions of family therapy at the end of life. Psycho-Oncology, 29: 373-380. doi.org/10.1002/pon.5268.
  • Zaider TI, Kissane DW. (2020) Psychosocial interventions for couples and families coping with cancer. Ch 61 in Psycho-Oncology, 4th Edition. WS. Breitbart, P. Butow, PB. Jacobsen, MJ. Loscalzo, et al, Eds. New York, Oxford University Press.

New discoveries and research focus

Psychological parameters including depression impact work ability among breast cancer survivors

Although the five year survival rate for breast cancer patients has greatly improved, survivors still experience physical and psychosocial symptoms that affect their quality of life. Our study was the first to examine the effects of depression and related psychological factors on work ability among breast cancer survivors in Australia. We identified that nearly one third of breast cancer survivors have changed their work conditions, resulting in less income and fewer working hours. Depression was shown to impact greatly, limiting work ability and reducing at work loss of productivity. The study supports further evaluations of work rehabilitation in breast cancer survivors, as factors such as depression and demoralisation are often modifiable.

Read about the research