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Personal profile


David W. Kissane, MD is an academic psychiatrist, psycho-oncology researcher and author. He is currently the Head of Psychiatry for Monash University in Australia, recently the Chairman of the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York and previously the Foundation Chair of Palliative Medicine at the University of Melbourne.

His academic interests include group, couples and family psychotherapy trials, communication skills training, studies of existential distress, and the ethics of end-of-life care. He developed a cognitive-existential model of group therapy for women with early stage breast cancer, which ameliorated fear of recurrence, and his trial of supportive-expressive group therapy for advanced breast cancer showed the prevention of depression alongside improved quality of life. He is best known for his model of family therapy delivered to andlsquo;at risk' families during palliative care, which prevents complicated grief and depression in bereavement. His work on demoralization as a variation of depression in the medically ill has preceded interventions to promote meaning-based coping.

At MSKCC, Prof Kissane established a Communication Skills Training and Research Laboratory, which developed an applied curriculum for oncology, training over 700 clinicians. His books include the Handbook of Communication in Oncology and Palliative Care with Oxford University Press, Handbook of Psychotherapy in Cancer Care with Wiley-Blackwell, Cancer and Depression for the World Psychiatric Association and Family Focused Grief Therapy with Open University Press. Prof. Kissane was awarded the Jimmie C. Holland Chair in Psycho-oncology at MSKCC and was recognized by the International Psycho-Oncology Society in 2008 with their Arthur Sutherland Award for lifetime achievement.

Clinical activities

Attending Psychiatrist, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center and Memorial Hospital, New York, NY
Liaison attachments with Breast, Head and Neck and Gynecologic Disease Management Teams. Outpatient clinics twice weekly. Inpatient consultation and Psychiatry Fellow Supervision once weekly.

1998 - 2003
Development of a Psycho-oncology Service at St. Vincent's Hospital, Melbourne, Australia; 10% effort. Conduct of weekly outpatient and inpatient consultation-liaison service to the oncology unit and hospice inpatients.

1996 - 2003
Monthly supervision of psycho-social services at Melbourne Citymission and Eastern Palliative Care, community-based programs.

1996 - 2003
Provision of a consultation-liaison service to Caritas Christi Hospice at its Kew and Fitzroy Campuses

1996 - 2003
Weekly supervision of Senior Registrar training in Psychiatry, Peter MacCallum Cancer Institute.


  • psycho-oncology
  • palliative care
  • psychotherapy trials
  • family/couples/group therapy

Network Recent external collaboration on country level. Dive into details by clicking on the dots.

Projects 2012 2019

Research Output 1985 2019

Couple-focused interventions for men with localized prostate cancer and their spouses: A randomized clinical trial

Manne, S. L., Kashy, D. A., Zaider, T., Kissane, D., Lee, D., Kim, I. Y., Heckman, C. J., Penedo, F., Murphy, E. & Virtue, S. M., May 2019, In : British Journal of Health Psychology. 24, 2, p. 396-418 23 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

Meaning and Purpose (MaP) therapy II: Feasibility and acceptability from a pilot study in advanced cancer

Kissane, D. W., Lethborg, C., Brooker, J., Hempton, C., Burney, S., Michael, N., Staples, M., Osicka, T., Sulistio, M., Shapiro, J. & Hiscock, H., Feb 2019, In : Palliative and Supportive Care. 17, 1, p. 21-28 8 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

Acceptance, social support, benefit-finding, and depression in women with gynecological cancer

Manne, S. L., Kashy, D. A., Virtue, S., Criswell, K. R., Kissane, D. W., Ozga, M., Heckman, C. J., Stapleton, J. & Rodriguez, L., 1 Jan 2018, (Accepted/In press) In : Quality of Life Research. 12 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

Are psychological interventions effective on anxiety in cancer patients? A systematic review and meta-analyses

Sanjida, S., Mcphail, S. M., Shaw, J., Couper, J., Kissane, D., Price, M. A. & Janda, M., 1 Jan 2018, (Accepted/In press) In : Psycho-Oncology. 14 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

A rigorous evaluation of an institutionally-based communication skills program for post-graduate oncology trainees

Bylund, C. L., Banerjee, S. C., Bialer, P. A., Manna, R., Levin, T. T., Parker, P. A., Schofield, E., Li, Y., Bartell, A., Chou, A., Hichenberg, S. A., Dickler, M. & Kissane, D. W., 1 Jan 2018, (Accepted/In press) In : Patient Education and Counseling. 10 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review