University of Technology Sydney

96817 Optimizing wellbeing for people living with advanced disease

Warning: The information on this page is indicative. The subject outline for a particular session, location and mode of offering is the authoritative source of all information about the subject for that offering. Required texts, recommended texts and references in particular are likely to change. Students will be provided with a subject outline once they enrol in the subject.

Subject handbook information prior to 2024 is available in the Archives.

UTS: Health
Credit points: 6 cp
Result type: Grade and marks


This subject builds student skills and capabilities to recognise, manage and communicate effectively with individuals living with a life-limiting progressive disease. Students analyse the impact of different disease trajectories and the uncertainty this creates within the context of survivorship theories. Students examine approaches to screening for psychological distress and identify opportunities to respond appropriately. Student synthesise the current evidence-based psychosocial interventions for living with uncertainty and reflect on the role and implications of inappropriately addressed uncertainty. Utilising a person-centred approach, students tailor specific approaches to the needs of people with advanced, progressive diseases and their carers to develop an individualised survivorship plan, supporting behaviour change where appropriate.

Subject learning objectives (SLOs)

Upon successful completion of this subject students should be able to:
A. Examine and demonstrate the capabilities required to recognise, interpret and communicate sensitively about distress and uncertainty using a person-centred approach.
B. Evaluate psychosocial implications of living with an advanced, progressive disease for patients, carers, and families.
C. Synthesise and integrate established theory into the design of a comprehensive survivorship plan for an individual living with an advanced, progressive disease.
D. Critically reflect on complexities inherent in antecedents, appraisals and coping with uncertainty throughout the trajectory of an advanced, progressive disease.

Teaching and learning strategies

Class preparation
Learning the concepts involved in uncertainty management will occur through engagement with online modules, webinars, academic staff and other students. To enable a richer learning experience when interacting with other students and speakers, students will be required to prepare for webinars in advance by reading, watching videos, and completing online tasks prior to attending. Canvas will be used for all announcements and subject materials.

Enquiry-based learning
Students will be engaged in interactive learning activities, such as communication skills activities and discussion board forums. Activities will include collaborating with other students in problem-based learning activities and presentations via Zoom meetings, for which students will receive feedback from both academic staff and peers. Feedback will also be provided for assessment activities that include individual and group tasks including online work, multimedia presentations, and written work.

Developing communication skills
Students will clarify complex concepts during webinars and via engagement in interactive online activities. Case studies and real examples from practice will be used to facilitate discussion.

Critical appraisal
Students will critically appraise their own knowledge, attitudes, beliefs, practice, and communication during webinars and via engagement in interactive online activities.

Content (topics)

Module 1 – Understanding the psychology of living with uncertainty

  • Psychology of advanced disease, across continuums and trajectories
  • Theoretical approaches to understanding stress and coping
  • Key concepts involved in living with uncertainty in advanced progressive disease
  • Survivorship in palliative care and appreciating the potential to have fluctuating palliative care needs

Module 2 – Assessing and managing distress and uncertainty (prostate cancer exemplar)

  • Understanding the nature and extent of psychological distress in prostate cancer
  • Distress screening, misconceptions and barriers
  • Developing and strengthening capacity in distress screening
  • Supportive approaches to address distress screening results

Module 3 – Living well with uncertainty in advanced life-limiting disease

  • Evidence-based approaches to managing uncertainty
  • Behaviour change for survivorship planning
  • Tailoring approaches to the needs of people with advanced conditions and their carers
  • Professional reflections on tolerating and managing uncertainty


Assessment task 1: Recorded Narrated Presentation


Students will develop an in-depth understanding of the many impacts of living with an advanced progressive disease.

Weight: 20%

Max 5 slides + Max 10 minutes narration

Assessment task 2: Recognising and communicating about distress


Students will build on Assessment 1 and apply new assessment skills to acertain distress through using the distress thermometer as a screening tool.

Weight: 25%

15-20 minute role play per patient; written component Max 500 words

Assessment task 3: Applying principles of survivorship in palliative care


Students will continue to build on the case study from Assessments 1 and 2. Students will gain skills in using a person-centred approach to tailor a survivorship plan for a palliative care patient.

Weight: 30%

Max. 1500 words

Assessment task 4: In-service presentation of survivorship plan in palliative care


Following on from Assessment 3, this assessment contributes to student learning by demonstrating capacity to synthesise information and present it as an educational session directed at other health professionals.

Weight: 15%

Max 5 slides; max. 6 mins

Assessment task 5: Student contribution and engagement


Preparation and meaningful engagement with a variety of resources is essential to collaboration and teamwork, skills that are critical to the role of a palliative care clinician. The intent of this assessment is to emphasise and encourage students’ contribution to team work via engagement with the online modules and Zoom meetings.

Weight: 10%

300-400 words

Other resources

UTS Student Centre
Building 10

Monday to Friday: 9am - 5pm
Tel: 1300 ASK UTS (1300 275 887)

Details for student centres:

For other resources/ information refer to the Faculty of Health website ( and Canvas at:

UTS Library
The Library has a wide range of resources, facilities and services to support you including textbooks, subject readings, health literature databases, workshops and bookable study rooms. There is also a team of librarians to help you with your questions available via online chat, phone and in person. W:, Facebook: utslibrary, Twitter: @utslibrary Tel: (02) 9514 3666.

Improve your academic and English language skills
Marks for all assessment tasks such as assignments and examinations are given not only for what you write but also for how you write. If you would like the opportunity to improve your academic and English language skills, make an appointment with the HELPS (Higher Education Language & Presentation Support) Service in Student Services.

HELPS (Higher Education Language & Presentation Support)
HELPS provides assistance with English language proficiency and academic language. Students who need to develop their written and/or spoken English should make use of the free services offered by HELPS, including academic language workshops, vacation intensive courses, drop-in consultations, individual appointments and Conversations@UTS ( HELPS staff are also available for drop-in consultations at the UTS Library. Phone (02) 9514 9733.

Please see for additional information on other resources provided to students by UTS.

The Accessibility and Financial Assistance Service
The Accessibility Service can support students with disabilities, medical or mental health conditions, including temporary injuries (e.g., broken limbs). The Accessibility Service works with Academic Liaison Officers in each Faculty to provide ‘reasonable adjustments’ such as exam provisions, assistive technology, requests and strategies for managing your studies alongside your health condition. If you’re unsure whether you need assistance, we recommend getting in touch early and we can provide advice on how our service can assist you. Make an appointment with an Accessibility Consultant (AC) on +61 2 9514 1177 or

The Financial Assistance Service can assist you with financial aspects of life at university, including Centrelink information, tax returns and budgeting, interest-free student loans and grants to assist with course-related costs. Check eligibility and apply online and make an appointment on +61 2 9514 1177 or