Meet our Member: Associate Professor Jason Mills

Associate Professor Jason Mills

Associate Professor Jason Mills is a senior nurse academic and researcher in the areas of palliative and end-of-life care at Flinders University. He is Chair of the Australian College of Nursing End-of-Life Care Faculty and Editor-in-Chief, Progress in Palliative Care. RePaDD spoke with Jason to learn more about his research, what he’s working on and a little about his life outside of research.

What is your main research area and why did it pique your interest?

My main areas of research centre around compassion and wellbeing, both for healthcare professionals and informal caregivers in community settings, spanning a broad range of public health approaches to palliative and end-of-life care. Health promoting palliative care (HPPC) and compassionate communities are just two examples of these public health approaches.

I first completed postgraduate studies in HPPC in 2011 and it was the importance of empowering informal care in community contexts that piqued my interest in going on to commence research in that area. Recognising the common humanity that bridges the experience of health, illness and caregiving across both professional and community contexts, I then branched out into research on self-care, self-compassion, and compassion for others.

What are you currently working on and how do you envision it helping improve palliative and end-of-life care?

I’m currently working on projects to build resilience and health promotion capabilities in nurses providing end-of-life care, and to develop evidence-based guidance for trauma informed end-of-life care.

Beyond this, I’m in the process of completing a systematic review of digital health technologies used in end-of-life care for cancer patients and looking to strengthen evaluation frameworks for community engagement and education programs such as Last Aid, Ambulance Wish and PalliLearn. I’m also working on an ethnographic study of compassionate community initiatives in Southeast Asia and I am keen to build palliative care capacity in countries such as the Philippines.

Collectively, these projects will contribute towards my overall research program that aims to better understand and improve care outcomes through public health approaches to palliative and end-of-life care.

What are the next steps in terms of rolling out and further collaboration?

I’m continuing current collaborations to further these projects with interdisciplinary collaborators through the Palliative Care Clinical Studies Collaborative (PaCCSC), Multinational Association of Supportive Care in Cancer (MASCC Palliative Care and Digital Health Study Groups), and the International Last Aid Research Group.

As Chair of the Australian College of Nursing End-of-Life Care Faculty, I am leading the development of a ‘Guiding Principles for Practice’ resource for both Trauma Informed Care and Health Promotion in End-of-Life Care.

Which one of your publications/projects is most important to you and why did it excite you?

Publishing expert commentaries in The Lancet and The Lancet Public Health are certainly a highlight, from a professional standpoint, but personally the most important projects I’ve worked on to date have been those seeking to address important questions around access and sustainability of care—both formal and informal—and fostering collaborative partnerships between these. As Ira Byock and his colleagues have highlighted:

The experiences of serious illness, dying, caregiving, grieving and death cannot be completely understood within a medical framework alone. These events are personal, but also fundamentally communal. Medical care and health services constitute essential components of a community’s response, but not its entirety.

Outside of research, how do you like to spend your spare time?

Outside of my day job, I enjoy quiet time in nature with my family (beach or bushwalks), but my real joy comes from playing (or watching) sports with our two sons, Jasper and Felix. I also find that meditation and the occasional strumming of an acoustic guitar is good for the soul.  😊

Associate Professor Jason Mills
Associate Professor Jason Mills
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