Examination of palliative care provision for patient groups experiencing vulnerability

Project Details

Rationale: Palliative and end of life care services are widely established throughout Australia, however access to such services remains inconsistent and variable, particularly for patient groups experiencing vulnerability, including those patients experiencing: incarceration; illicit drug use; homelessness; mental health illness; and/or those who identify as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander. This program of work focuses on exploring the provision of palliative and end of life care these patient groups with life limiting illness, to improve understanding of current care and identify opportunities for improvements in current and future service delivery for patient groups experiencing vulnerability.

Key aim(s):

For all patient groups experiencing vulnerability

  • Explore the experiences and perspectives of health professionals regarding the provision of palliative and end of life care for hospitalised patient groups experiencing vulnerability
  • Examine hospital and palliative care utilisation during the last 3-months of life for hospitalised patient groups experiencing vulnerability

Patients experiencing INCARCERATION

  • Map the current prisons, prison health care services, and the palliative and end of life care service provision for Australian prisoners
  • Explore experiences and perspectives of health care staff working within the Victorian prison setting regarding the provision of end of life care for dying prisoners

Patients who use ILLICIT DRUGS

  • Map medication use at the end of life for people who use illicit drugs
  • Explore perceptions and experiences of hospital care and symptom management for people with cancer who use drugs


  • Identify barriers to accessing health care for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cancer patients with advanced cancer

Patients experiencing HOMELESSNESS

  • Map the existing mobilised palliative care services for homeless people nationally and internationally and scope local palliative and end of life care needs for homeless people within metropolitan Melbourne

Methods: This program of work uses a mixed methods approach, including: retrospective medical record reviews; semi-structured focus groups and interviews with hospital clinicians, prison-based health care workers and patients; community engagement and forums; and online mapping of existing services across community and government organisations.


Key contact: Stacey Panozzo; stacey.panozzo@svha.org.au


Inclusive Health Innovation Fund, St Vincent’s Health Australia; Western and Central Melbourne Integrated Cancer Service

Research Group

Jennifer Philip

Key Contact

For further information about this research, please contact the research group leader.

Department / Centre



St Vincent's Hospital

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