Palliative care is defined as "an approach that improves the quality of life of patients and their families facing the problem associated with life-threatening illness, through the prevention and relief of suffering by means of early identification and impeccable assessment and treatment of pain and other problems, physical, psychosocial and spiritual" (World Health Organization).

Palliative care is evolving into a sophisticated specialty, with a rapidly developing evidence base. However, all health practitioners need to be aware of, and practice, the principles of palliative care.  There is a clear role for general practice and primary care in providing palliation to people with life limiting illness.  

Our Discipline is dedicated to facilitating the provision of palliative care in primary care.  This involves providing the knowledge base and strategies required to provide skilful palliation; developing and testing means of facilitating close cooperation between specialist palliative care providers and primary care practitioners, especially general practitioners. Finally we work with research colleagues to advance the evidence base that supports palliative care treatments. 

Current projects

  • Development of a national minimal dataset to improve the quality and safety of end of life care in the community. (University of Western Australia Research Collaboration AwardProject Contact: Professor Geoff Mitchell)
  • The public health benefit/risks of timely diagnosis of dementia - exploratory studies. (Project Contact: Professor Geoff Mitchell)
  • Developing end of life care skills for general practice:  What patients want from primary care. (Funded by RACGP Foundation. Project Contact: Professor Geoff Mitchell)
  • NHMRC Centre of Research Excellence in End of Life Care. (Project Contact: Professor Geoff Mitchell) 
  • Cluster randomised controlled trial of facilitated case conferencing, versus Usual care for improving end of life outcomes in aged care residents with advanced dementia and their families. (Funded by Australian Government Aged Care Service Improvement And Healthy Ageing Grants Flexible Fund. Project Contact: Professor Geoff Mitchell)
  • The BASIC-PC Project (Better Assessment, Support and Interdisciplinary Care - Palliative Care): Case conferences between GPs and palliative care teams for non-malignant palliative care patients. (Project Contact: Professor Geoff Mitchell)

Completed projects

  • Understanding the reasons for clinician lack of recognition of the risk of dying (Funded by the RACGP Foundation/IPN Medical Centres. Project contact: Professor Geoff Mitchell)
  • Predicting death in general practice - a pilot RCT of intuitive prediction vs use of a predictive tool (Funded by RACGP Foundation.  Project contact:  Professor Geoff Mitchell)
  • Can the needs of caregivers of patients with advanced cancer be met using a GP Caregiver Needs Toolkit? (Funded by the NHMRC. Project ContactsProfessor Geoff Mitchell & Dr Letitia Burridge)
  • Using single patient trials to determine the effectiveness of psycho-stimulants in end stage fatigue in cancer patients. (Funded by the NHMRC. Project ContactsDr Jane Nikles & Professor Geoff Mitchell
  • N-of-1 trials of pilocarpine vs placebo for dry mouth in palliative care patients. (Funded by The Cancer Council. Project ContactsDr Jane Nikles & Professor Geoff Mitchell)
  • Embedding structured family meetings for patients with advanced disease into routine practice.  (Funded by Victorian Cancer Agency.  Project contacts:  Dr Jane Nikles and Professor Geoff Mitchell
  • Using n-of 1 trials to determine the effectiveness of paracetamol in advanced cancer patients on opioids. (Funded by the NHMRC. Project Contacts: Professor Geoff Mitchell & Dr Jane Nikles)
  • An exploration of lay carers' views regarding the Internet as a source of information in supportive care. (Funded by CareSearch.  Project Contacts:  Professor Geoff Mitchell & Dr Letitia Burridge)

Contact us

For more information regarding our research, please contact Professor Geoff Mitchell.