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Research Program on Cancer, Palliative and End-of-Life Care


Link to article It's your fault you got cancer


Within the sociology of cancer we explore health, illness and healing experiences, including those of patients, families and healthcare professionals. Here we focus on the utilisation of rigorous sociological research methods and theory to better understand the social, cultural, historical and political aspects of contemporary cancer care and survivorship. That is, drawing on a wide range of data sources (e.g. qualitative interviews, ethnography, document analysis, dairy case studies), we explore the perceptions and experiences of those with, and impacted on, by cancer. Departing from a focus on traditional ‘quality of life’ measures, a critical sociological perspective interrogates cancer as a social, historical, cultural and physiological entity, and those who are affected by it as embedded in systems of knowledge and practice (sometimes restrictive, sometimes enabling). Recently this has included critical analsyses of such things as the survivorship 'push' in oncology, the rise and impact of precision medicine, and the how complex personhood interplays with experiences of illness and care. The critical sociological understandings we develop are aimed at helping provide better care and services to patients and families, and support health professionals. Our focus in particular is the social justice dimensions of illness and care, and how forms of disadvantage may manifest (and be addressed) in the context of living with cancer. 

Palliative and End-of-Life Care 

Dying is the ultimate shared experience and little sociological research has been done in this important and diverse period in the lifecourse and site of care. Our focus here is on providing new and sophisticated conceptual understandings of dying as relationally, culturally and ideologically mediated. That is, ‘dying’ as embedded in complex issues related to: identity disruption and bodily disintegration; interpersonal and cultural ideas about connectivity and collective responsibility; and, ‘dying’ as an ideological and institutionally-mediated process. Currently we are using innovative qualitative and ethnographic methodologies to document patient and family journeys to and through palliative care. For the first time we will be able to explore people’s movement through the various sites of care, documenting advice giving, decision making and the continuity of care provided. This area provides much needed data to refine and enhance public and private sector palliative care practices, and to improve the experience of death and dying in Australia and internationally.

Key Investigators/Collaborators

Recent Books

Bodies and Suffering: Emotions and Relations of Care.


Dragojlovic A;Broom A, 2017, Bodies and Suffering Emotions and Relations of Care, Routledge







Dying: A Social Perspective on the End of Life 

Broom A, 2015, Dying: A social perspective on the end of lifeRoutledge






Recent Publications

Broom, A., Kenny, K., Kirby, E. & Lwin, Z. (in press) The collective/affective practice of cancer survivorship. The British Journal of Sociology

Broom, A. Kirby, E., Kokonavic, R., Woodland, L., Wyld, D., de Souza, P., Koh, S. Lwin, Z,. (in press) Individualising difference, negotiating culture: Intersections of biography and cancer care. Health: An Interdisciplinary Journal for the Social Study of Health, Illness and Medicine

Broom, A., Parker, R.B., Kirby, E., Kokanović, R., Woodland, L., Lwin, Z., & Koh, E-S. (in press) A qualitative study of cancer care professionals’ experiences of working with migrant patients from diverse cultural backgroundsBritish Medical Journal Open

Broom, A., Kenny, K, Kirby, E. (2018) On waiting, hauntings and surviving: Chronicling life with cancer through solicited diaries. The Sociological Review. Volume: 66 issue: 3, page(s): 682-699 doi: 10.1177/0038026117719216

Kenny, K, Broom, A., Kirby, E. Wyld, D., Lwin, Z. (2017) Terminal anticipation: Entanglements of affect and temporality in living with advanced cancer. Subjectivity Volume 10, Issue 4, pp 374–39

Wong, T., Broom, A., Kirby, E., Lwin, Z. (2018 in press) What lies beneath? Experiencing emotions in oncology. Health: An Interdisciplinary Journal for the Social Study of Health, Illness and Medicine

Kirby, E., Lwin, Z., Kenny, K., Broom, A.Birman, H., Good, P. (2018 in press) "It doesn't exist…": Negotiating palliative care from a culturally and linguistically diverse patient and caregiver perspective. BMC Palliative Care

Wong, T., Kirby, E., Broom, A.Francis, K., Karapetis, C., Karikios, D., Harrup, R., Lwin, Z. (2018 in press) A mixed methods analysis of experiences and expectations among early-career medical oncologists in Australia. Asia Pacific Journal of Clinical Oncology doi: 10.1111/ajco.12844

Broom, A., Kenny, K., Bowden, V., Muppavaram, N., Chittem, M. (2017) Cultural ontologies of cancer in India. Critical Public Health, 1-11. doi:10.1080/09581596.2017.1288288

MacArtney, J., Broom, A., Kirby, E., Good, P., & Wootton, J. (2017) The liminal and the parallax: Living and dying at the end of life. Qualitative Health Research, 27(5), 623-633. doi:10.1177/1049732315618938

Broom, A. (2017) The right to medicalization? Invited commentary on Karsoho et al. (2016) Social Science & Medicine, 173, 104-107. doi:10.1016/j.socscimed.2016.12.001

Gibson, A., Broom, A, Kirby, E., Wyld, D., Lwin, Z. (2017 in press) ‘…My biggest worry now is how my husband is going to cope’: Women’s relational experiences of cancer ‘care’ during illness. Journal of Gender Studies

Kirby, E., Kenny, K,. Broom, A., Good, P. MacArtney, J. (2017 in press) The meaning and experience of bereavement support: A qualitative interview study of bereaved family caregivers. Palliative and Supportive Care doi: 10.1017/S1478951517000475

Dragojlovic, A. & Broom, A. (2017) Bodies and Suffering: Emotions and Relations of Care. Routledge. London and New York.

Kenny, K,. Broom, A., Kirby, E., Ridge, D. (2017 in press) In one’s own time: Contesting the temporality and linearity of bereavement. Health: An Interdisciplinary Journal for the Social Study of Health, Illness and Medicine doi: 10.1177/1363459317724854

Broom, A., Chittem, M., Bowden, V., Muppavaram, N. (2016) Illness experiences, collective decisions, and the therapeutic encounter in Indian oncology. Qualitative Health Research. doi:10.1177/1049732316648125

Broom, A., Kirby, E., Good, P., Lwin, Z. (2016) Nursing futility, managing medicine: Nurses’ perspectives on the transition from life-prolonging to palliative care. Health. doi:10.1177/1363459315595845 

Broom, A., Kirby, E., Kenny, K., MacArtney, J., Good, P. (2016) Moral ambivalence and informal care for the dying. The Sociological Reviewdoi:10.1111/1467-954X.12400

Broom, A., Wong, T., Kirby, E., Harrup, R, Karikios, D., Lwin, Z., (2016) A qualitative study of medical oncologists’ experiences of their profession and workforce sustainability. PLOS ONE. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0166302

MacArtney, J., Broom, A., Kirby, E., Good, P., Wootton, J., Adams, J. (2016) Locating care at the end of life: Burden, vulnerability, and the practical accomplishment of dying. Sociology of Health and Illness. doi:10.1111/1467-9566.12375

Broom, A. (2015) Dying: A Social Perspective on the End of Life. Ashgate: Farnham/Routledge: London.

Broom, A., Kirby, E., Good, P., Wootton, J., Hardy, J., Yates, P. (2015) Negotiating futility, managing emotions: Nursing the transition to palliative care. Qualitative Health Research. doi:10.1177/1049732314553123

MacArtney, J., Broom, A., Kirby, E., Good, P., Wootton, J., Adams, J. (2015) On resilience and acceptance in the transition to palliative care at the end of life. Health. doi:10.1177/1363459314545696

Broom, A., Kirby, E., Good, P., Wootton, J. and Adams, J. (2014) The troubles of telling: Managing communication about the end of life. Qualitative Health Research. doi:10.1177/1049732313519709

Kirby, E., Broom, A., Good, P. (2014) The role and significance of nurses in managing transitions to palliative care: A qualitative study. British Medical Journal Open. doi:10.1136/bmjopen-2014-006026

Kirby, E., Broom, A., Good, P., Wootton, J. & Adams, J. (2014) Families and the transition to specialist palliative care. Mortality. doi:10.1080/13576275.2014.916258

Kirby, E., Broom, A., Good, P., & Wootton, J., Adams, J. (2014) Medical specialists’ motivations for referral to specialist palliative care: a qualitative study. BMJ Supportive and Palliative Care. doi:10.1136/bmjspcare-2012-000376

Lwin, Z., Broom, A. et al (2014) Culturally and linguistically diverse patient participation in glioma research: Insights from the Australian context. Neuro-oncology

Broom, A., Good, P., Kirby, E. & Lwin, Z. (2013) Negotiating palliative care in the context of culturally and linguistically diverse patients. Internal Medicine Journaldoi:10.1111/imj.12244

Broom, A. & Kirby, E. (2013) The end of life and the family: Hospice patients’ views on dying as relational. Sociology of Health and Illness. doi:10.1111/j.1467-9566.2012.01497.x

Broom, A., Kirby, E., Good, P., Wootton, J. & Adams, J. (2013) The art of letting go: Referral to palliative care and its discontents. Social Science and Medicinedoi:10.1016/j.socscimed.2012.11.008

Broom, A. (2012) On euthanasia, resistance and redemption: The moralities and politics of a hospice. Qualitative Health Research, Vol. 22, No. 2, pp. 226-237. 

Broom, A. & Doron, A. (2012) The rise of cancer in urban India: Cultural understandings, structural inequalities, and the emergence of the clinic. Health: An Interdisciplinary Journal for the Social Study of Health, Illness and Medicine Vol. 16 No. 3 pp250–266.

Broom, A., Kirby, E., Good, P., Wootton, J. & Adams, J. (2012) Specialists’ experiences and perspectives on the timing of referral to palliative care: a qualitative study. Journal of Palliative Medicine Volume 15, Number 11, pp 1248-1253. 

Broom, A., Kirby, E. & Good, P. (2012) Referral to specialist palliative care. InternalMedicineJournal Vol. 42 No. 9, pp1040-1042

Broom, A. & Cavenagh, J. (2011) On the meanings and experiences of living and dying in a hospice. Health: An Interdisciplinary Journal for the Social Study of Health, Illness and Medicine 15(1) 96–111. 

Broom, A. & Adams, J. (2010) The reconfiguration of expertise in oncology: The practice of prediction and articulation of indeterminacy in medical consultations. Qualitative Health Research 20, 10, pp.1433-45 

Broom, A. & Cavenagh, J. (2010) Moralities, masculinities and caring for the dying: An exploration of experiences of living and dying in a hospice. Social Science and Medicine Vol. 71 No. 5, 869-76 

Broom, A. (2009) Intuition, subjectivity and le bricoleur: Cancer patients’ accounts of negotiating a plurality of therapeutic options. Qualitative Health Research Vol. 19 No. 8 pp. 1050-1059 

Broom, A., Adams, J. & Tovey, P. (2009) Evidence-based healthcare in practice: A study of clinical resistance, professional deskilling, and inter-specialty differentiation in oncology. Social Science and Medicine Vol. 68, No. 1 pp.192–200 

Broom, A., Hand, K. & Tovey, P. (2009) The role of gender, environment and individual biography in shaping qualitative interview data. International Journal of Social Research Methodology Vol. 12 No. 1 pp. 51-67.

Broom, A. & Tovey, P. (2007) Therapeutic Pluralism? Evidence, power and legitimacy in UK cancer services. Sociology of Health and Illness Vol. 29 No. 3, pp. 551-569. 

Tovey, P. & Broom, A. (2007) Oncologists’ and specialist cancer nurses’ approaches to complementary and alternative medicine use and their impact on patient action. Social Science and Medicine Vol. 64 pp 2550-2564. 

Broom, A. (2005) Medical specialists’ accounts of the impact of the Internet on the doctor/patient relationship. Health: An Interdisciplinary Journal for the Social Study of Health, Illness and Medicine Vol. 9 No. 3 pp319-338. 

Broom, A. (2005) Virtually He@lthy: A study into the impact of Internet use on disease experience and the doctor/patient relationship. Qualitative Health Research. Vol. 15 No. 3, pp 325-345.

Broom, A. (2004) Prostate cancer and masculinity in Australian society: A case of stolen identity? International Journal of Men’s Health Vol. 3 No. 2, pp 73-91.  

Funding and Projects

2019-23 Australian Research Council Discovery Grant [DP190100745] Precision and the Person  [Broom, Wakefield, Kirby, Prainsack, Khasraw, Kenny] $470,650

2016-19, Australian Research Council Linkage Grants [LP160100100] Cultural biographies, medical knowledges: A sociological study $270,000 [Broom, Kirby, Kokanovic, Adams, Lwin, Wyld, Koh, de Souza]

2015-2017, Australian Research Council Discovery Early Career Researcher Award (DECRA) [DE150100285] ‘Who cares? A sociological study of informal care at the end of life’, $372,000 [Kirby]

2015-18, Australian Research Council Discovery Project [DP150100414] ‘The changing landscapes of survivorship: A sociological study of a life with cancer’, $359,700 [Broom, Kirby, Yates, Seale, Oliffe]

2012-15, Australian Research Council Linkage Grant [LP120200268] ‘Pathways to and through palliative care: A sociological study of patient, carer and clinician experiences at the end of life’ [Broom, Adams, Yates, Kirby, Good, Wootton, Hardy] $164,830 [Total cash and in-kind $591,411]

2014-16, Royal Brisbane Foundation, Understanding and improving the experiences of culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) patients and their families in the context of a recent diagnosis with cancer [Lwin, Broom, Wyld, Kirby et al] $60,000

2014, Mater Medical Research Institute, Referral to specialist palliative care: The experiences of Culturally and Linguistically Diverse communities [with Good, Broom Lwin, et al] 

2011-15, Australian Research Council Future Fellowship [FT100100294], The changing landscape of medical pluralism: a sociological analysis of patient experiences and decision making in Australia, India and Brazil. $656,448

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