Our Vision

For more than a decade the vision of Social Work and the Aboriginal Liaison Officer Program at St Vincent’s (STV) has been to develop a research agenda which is informed by our day to day work, by opportunities and responsibilities arising out of the policy and funding environment, by organisational strategic directions and by professional priorities.

To achieve our vision, we encourage, support and resource staff and to identify and act on opportunities. We have also actively set out to partner with others.

In our view, practice based research transforms clinical practice and clinicians and it stimulates learning and achievement. In our day to day work, we aim to draw on available evidence and we work to build new knowledge, to improve the quality of practice and to ensure that interventions are as beneficial as possible.

Our research work is collaborative involving a range of other disciplines, academics and other organisations.

We are mindful of sharing what we learn through presentations, publications and by networking within the fields of health, aged care and related areas of social work practice.

Our story so far…

In the late 1990’s (and for some years thereafter) the Oncology Department at St Vincent’s Hospital provided financial support for cancer social work research for one or two days per week. This was an important beginning. Since that time, cancer social work practice research has been our flagship.

In 2002 we initiated a practice research initiative with the Department of Social Work, the Melbourne School of Health Sciences, The University of Melbourne. Associate Professor Lynette Joubert provided research consultation to Allied Health staff within the directorate of Aged and Community Care and this was critical for capacity building.

In 2006 in collaboration with other Allied Health colleagues at STV we established the St Vincent’s Centre for Allied Health Research.

In 2008 Dr Carrie Lethborg, Social Worker, was appointed to the role of Social Worker Grade 4/ Clinical Leader Cancer and Chronic Illness and Coordinator of Social Work Research at STV. This appointment has served to embed social work research as a core component of what we do.

Research, improvement and innovation have become an integral part of our departmental culture – both in Social Work and in Aboriginal Health and from that vision, we are making dreams come true!.


Social Work and Aboriginal Health Research, 2008-2011

In 2008 Dr Carrie Lethborg, Social Worker, received an NH&MRC post doctoral fellowship in the area of Meaning and Purpose (MaP)Therapy. This is due to be completed in 2011.

In 2008 Ms Laurelle Stalker social worker for the Head and Neck Unit, working with colleagues from Speech Pathology and Nutrition, received funding from the STV Research Endowment Fund (REF) for a project entitled: “Does a multi-disciplinary face-to-face pre-operative supportive care education and counselling intervention prior to major head and neck cancer surgery assist post-operative adjustment more than standard care?”

In 2009 an Australian Research Council (ARC) Linkages grant was awarded to the University of Melbourne and Social Work at STV for the study “From Suspicion to Intervention : Improving responsiveness to aged abuse in acute and sub acute health care.” The Chief Investigators are Associate Professor Elizabeth Ozanne, A/Prof Lynette Joubert and Dr Marie Gertz (The University of Melbourne), Ms Sonia Posenelli (Social Work STV) and Professor David Ames (National Ageing Research Institute). Ms Meghan O’Brien (Social Work STV) is undertaking a PhD as part of this project.

In 2009 Dr Carrie Lethborg received a Victorian Cancer Agency (VCA) Supportive Care Capacity Building Grant  “Meaning and Purpose (MaP) therapy in advanced cancer – a pilot randomised control trial”.

In 2009 the Cancer Social Work team STV led by Ms Pauley Kessel completed a study funded by the Seven Days in the Sahara initiative into the needs of carers of people with cancer.

In 2009 Ms Sonia Posenelli working with Angela Clarke, Nicole Waddell and Shaun Ewen from the Onemda VicHealth Koori Health Unit completed a Department of Health project entitled the Improving Care for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Patients (ICAP) Program Resource Kit.

In 2009 Ms Kerry Solomon with the support of a STV Research Endowment Fund (REF) grant, completed her MSW research study entitled: “Exploratory Study into the Lived Experience after a Diagnosis of a Glioblastoma Multiforme (GBM): Barriers and Access to Services.”

In 2010 Ms Sophia Koutroulis is progressing the findings of the glioblastoma study by undertaking MSW research entitled: "Newly diagnosed GBM patients and their carers: What are their perceptions of a trial multidisciplinary intervention to effectively address supportive care needs?".

In 2010 Dr Carrie Lethborg completed a project funded by the Western and Central Melbourne Integrated Cancer Service (WCMICS) entitled “Answering the unanswered questions about psychosocial screening in the cancer setting.”

In 2010 Dr Carrie Lethborg on behalf of Allied Health at both STV and the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre received funding from WCMICS for a project entitled “Can we improve the care of older people with cancer through targeted supportive care assessment, capacity building & partnerships with STV sub acute ambulatory care services?”


Recent Publications

  • Calder A & Badcoe A., 'Road trauma survivors experiences of pastoral care during inpatient orthopaedic rehabilitation', in Australian Journal of Pastoral Care and Health, Vol. 1, No. 2 June 2008.
  • Lethborg C, Aranda S, Cox S & Kissane, D. 'To what extent does meaning mediate adaptation to cancer? The relationship between physical suffering, measuring in life and connection to others in adjustment to cancer', in Palliative and Supportive Care (2007), 5, 1-12.
  • Lethborg, C, Aranda S & Kissane D. Meaning in adjustment to cancer: A model of Care in Palliative Supported Care (2008), 6, 1-10.
  • Lethborg, C, Christ, G, (2010) 'Social Work Support in Crisis' in Kissane, D., Bultz, B., Buttow, P., and Finlay, IG (Eds.), Handbook of Communication in Oncology and Palliative Care, London: Oxford University Press, pp 449-459.
  • Lethborg C, Christ G, (2010) “Social Work Support in Crisis” in Handbook of Communication in Oncology and Palliative Care Kissane D, Bultz B, Butow P & Finley I (Eds). Oxford University Press.
  • Lethborg C, Posenelli, S (2009), Improving Psychosocial Care for Cancer Patients; in Social Work and Global Health Inequalities. Policy and Practice Developments, Policy Press ed. Bywaters P, McLeod E and Napier L.
  • Livingston PM, Crake MJ, White VM, Horden AJ, Jefford M, Botti MA, Lethborg C, Oldroyd JC, (2010). A nurse-assisted screening and refferral program for depression among survivors of colorectal cancer; faesibility study, in Medical Journal of Australia; 193(5), S83-S87.
  • Nilsson D, Braddy L, (2009) “Health” in Assessment and Report Writing in the Human Services, ed Cleak H.
  • Parsonnet, L, Lethborg, C, (2011), 'Adressing Suffering in Palliative Care: Two Psychotherapeutic Models', in Altilio, T, and Otis-Green, S. (Eds.) Oxford Textbook of Palliative Social Work. (Chapter 18), New York: Oxford University Press.
  • Posenelli S, Clarke A, Ewen S, Waddell, N. (2009).The Improving Care for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Patients (ICAP) Resource Kit, published by the Department of Health Victoria.