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Personal profile

Research Biography

Dr Caroline Phelan is a Lecturer in Ageing and Palliative Care. After completing her undergraduate Nursing degree at the University of Canberra, Caroline spent much of her early nursing career in critical care areas. She completed her Master of Public Health at the University of New South Wales and has held education and management roles in nursing. She completed her PhD at the University of Newcastle which focused on decision making and older people in pain management. Her research focus is on clinical decision making, decision making in older age, pain management and critical theory.

She has worked in a variety of clinical settings, including intensive care, adult and paediatric hospitals, community and outpatient clinics. She most recently focused on pain management. She has been active in interdisciplinary research with health practitioners and scientists across medicine, nursing and allied health disciplines.  

She is a member of the Flinders Research Centre for Palliative Care Death & Dying, and her research interests include novel approaches to advanced symptom management, decision making of clinicians and the experience of people with life-limiting illnesses and their families. She interested in theoretical approaches to knowledge as well as practical solutions to real world problems. 

As a balanced academic Caroline's research activities are supported by her teaching commitments in the postgraduate palliative care courses and a number of other programs. She lectures in and coordinates a number of topics and supports the College by teaching into a variety of topics across the postgraduate courses. She is an active HDR supervisor and is the course coordinator for Postgraduate Palliative Care courses.

Research Interests

  • Pain Management
  • Decision making
  • Advanced symptom management
  • Palliative Care
  • Critical theory, Systems Theory
  • Qualitative research
  • End of Life care for people with a disability

Current Research Projects:

  • Feasibility study for a novel approach to the delivery of breakthrough analgesics in palliative care.
  • Managing thirst and dry mouth at the end of life
  • Pain Management decision-making of palliative care clinicians

Education/Academic qualification

PhD, Pain Management and Decision Making, University of Newcastle, Australia

Award Date: 14 Mar 2019

Master of Public Health, University of New South Wales

Award Date: 1 Nov 2006

Bachelor of Nursing, University of Canberra

Award Date: 1 Jun 1996


  • Registered

Supervisory Interests

  • Palliative care
  • Acute care
  • Healthcare for older people
  • Judgement and decision making
  • Critical Theory
  • Clinical trials
  • Qualitative research methodology
  • Public health


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