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Allan Kellehear


Department: Social Work, Education and Community Wellbeing

I am a medical and public health sociologist. I received my sociology training from the University of New South Wales in Sydney, Australia. My research and writing reflect longstanding interests in two academic areas. The first area of interest is the history, anthropology, sociology, and social psychology of human dying behavior and experiences. These studies examine dying conduct in illness (palliative, ageing, cancer, and intensive care) and non-illness contexts (war, disasters, death camps, death row, suicide) and from 12 months to a few hours either side of the clinical pronouncement of death.  My work ranges from studies of prolonged dying from chronic illness, debates on the determination of death (brain death), to mystical/altered states of consciousness among adults and children near-death (near-death experiences, deathbed visions, terminal lucidity).

My other field of research is the development and assessment of public health (health promotion) practices for care of the dying, caregivers, and the bereaved. I am interested in the application of public health strategies for community development, social ecology, public education, services redesign, and civic policy development to create or enhance practices for communities participating in end-of-life care. I am widely recognized as founder and one of the leading advocates of the international public health movement in palliative care, also known as the ‘compassionate community’ or the ‘health promoting palliative care’ approach. This approach has been incorporated into national palliative care policies in many countries around the world, including the UK.

Before coming to Northumbria, I worked internationally as a university professor in Australia (La Trobe University), Japan (University of Tokyo), England (Universities of Bath, Middlesex, and Bradford), and the USA (Universities of Minnesota and Vermont). With Julian Abel, I am co-editor of the Oxford Textbook of Public Health Palliative Care (2022) and a contributing author to the Lancet Commission Report on the Value of Death (2022). I have been an elected Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences since 2011; co-founder and Associate Director of the national charity Compassionate Communities UK; and a past President of both the Association for the Study of Death and Society and Public Health Palliative Care International. I am an honorary professor in theology and religion at Durham University, and in family medicine at McMaster University Medical School in Canada. I joined Northumbria University in 2024 as Professor in Health and Social Care.

Allan Kellehear

  1. Public health policies, service development, and civic practice models of care in end-of-life care (in aged, cancer, palliative, bereavement, & intensive care sectors)
  2. Sociological and policy perspectives on ageing
  3. History, sociology, and social psychology of dying conduct and experiences
  4. Anthropology of mystical/religious/altered states associated with dying and bereavement
  5. Sociology of health and illness
  6. Health promotion, community development, public education, services redesign, civic policy development, and social ecology
  7. Health humanities – storytelling as a modality for developing death, dying, and grief literacy in public and professional education
  8. Religion/faith cultures and the health services

  • Please visit the Pure Research Information Portal for further information
  • Life/time/d: Is the life shortened, a shortened life?, Kellehear, A. 1 Feb 2024, In: Palliative and Supportive Care
  • Near-Death Experiences and the Heroic Narrative, Kellehear, A. 10 Mar 2024, Encyclopedia of Heroism Studies, Cham, Switzerland, Springer
  • Terminal lucidity in a pediatric oncology clinic, Roehrs, P., Fenwick, P., Greyson, B., Kellehear, A., Kothe, K., Nahm, M., Roe, C., Tassell-Matamua, N., Woollacott, M. 1 Jan 2024, In: Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease
  • A Christmas Carol - or how I learned to love visits from the dead, Kellehear, A. 1 Feb 2023, In: Palliative and Supportive Care
  • Bereavement care reimagined, Abel, J., Kellehear, A., Aoun, S. 31 Jul 2023, In: Annals of palliative medicine
  • Do palliative care research priorities match those for its care?: A journals content analysis 2021-22, Abel, J., Kellehear, A., Garrido, M., Hodges, E., Sawyer, J., Peterson, C. 2 Nov 2023, In: Progress in Palliative Care
  • Existential ageing and dying: A scoping review, Kellehear, A., Garrido, M. 1 Jan 2023, In: Archives of Gerontology and Geriatrics
  • How does community engagement evolve in different compassionate community contexts? A longitudinal comparative ethnographic research protocol, Lessard, É., Marcoux, I., Daneault, S., Penaite, A., Jean, L., Talbot, M., Weil, D., Rouly, G., Sallnow, L., Kellehear, A., Bouvin, A. 2023, In: Palliative Care and Social Practice
  • Public health reimagined, Abel, J., Kellehear, A. Jan 2023, In: Lifestyle Medicine
  • Scope of Annals of Palliative Medicine based on a review of the disciplinary development and evolving definition of palliative medicine, Zhang, K., Shang, B., Kellehear, A., Yu, Y., Lo, S., Dev, R., Suwanabol, P., Masel, E., Berger, A., Miyashita, M., Simone ii, C. 30 Nov 2023, In: Annals of palliative medicine

  • Sociology PhD May 13 1987
  • Sociology BA (Hons) May 13 1978

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