Dr Megan Best


Research Associate

PhD MAAE BMed(Hons) GradDipQHR ClinDipPM ATh

Email: megan.best@nd.edu.au
Phone: 02 8204-4685

  • Biography

    Dr Best has a clinical background in Palliative Medicine, most recently working in the Greenwich Hospital Palliative Care Service in North Sydney until 2017, and has taught medical ethics at tertiary level for many years. Dr Best joined the Psycho-Oncology Co-operative Research Group at the University of Sydney in 2011 when she began her PhD which examined the doctor’s role in spiritual care of advanced cancer patients. Following her PhD Dr. Best was awarded a Cancer Institute NSW Postdoctoral Research Fellowship, focusing on two studies examining the psychosocial, behavioural and ethical impact of genomic screening for cancer, working in association with the genomic cancer unit at the Garvan Institute, NSW. In 2017 Dr. Best was appointed as a Research Associate with the Institute for Ethics and Society, working on research projects in the area of spirituality in healthcare. Dr Best has also recently been appointed to the board of Spiritual Care Australia.

  • Teaching areas

    Medical ethics

    Spirituality in healthcare

    Communication at the end of life

    Psychosocial impact of genetics and genomics

  • Research expertise and supervision

    Currently supervising 3 PhD students, 2 postgraduate students

  • Books

    • Best M. (2013). A life already started. Sydney: fervr. Winner Reviewer’s Choice CALEB Awards 2014.
    • Best M. (2012). Fearfully and wonderfully made. Sydney: IVP. Shortlisted for Australian Christian Book of the Year 2013
  • Book chapters

    • Best M. (2011). Challenging Euthanasia. Chapter in: Smart S. (Ed.). Public Christianity. North Sydney: Centre for Public Christianity, pp.75-80. ISBN: 978-0-9871067-0-4.
    • Best M. (2008). Stem cell research and cloning. Chapter in: Brammall A. (Ed.). 21st century living…1st century wisdom. Croydon: SMBC Press, pp. 1-22.
  • Journal articles and proceedings

    • Morrow A, Jacobs C, Best M, Greening S, Tucker K. Genetics in palliative oncology: a missing agenda? A review of the literature and future directions. Support Care Cancer. Accepted for publication. doi: 10.1007/s00520-017-4017-9.
    • Best M. (2017). The dilemma of prenatal screening. Accepted for publication, Ethics Med.
    • Best M. (2017). Assisted dying laws – it’s not about physical suffering, CASE quarterly 49.
    • Best M, Tang E, Buhagiar M, Agar M. (2017) Lower limb oedema at the end of life: how common is it? Journal of Lymphoedema. Accepted for publication.
    • Best M. (2017) Book review: Practicing Medicine and Ethics: Integrating Wisdom, Conscience, and Goals of Care. Ethics Med: 33(2):121-2.
    • Best M, Butow P, Olver I (2016) Why do We Find It so Hard to Discuss Spirituality? A Qualitative Exploration of Attitudinal Barriers J Clin Med: 5(9):77.
    • Best, M (2016) A good death. Zadok Perspectives: 131: 9-11.
    • Best M, Butow P, Olver I (2016) Palliative Care Specialists’ beliefs about spiritual care Support Care Cancer: 24(8): 3295-3306.
    • Best M, Butow P, Olver I (2015) Creating a safe space: A qualitative inquiry into the way doctors discuss spirituality Palliat Support Care 14(5):519-531.
    • Best M, Butow P, Olver I (2016) Doctors discussing religion and spirituality: A systematic literature review Palliat Med:30(4):327-337.
    • Best M, Butow P, Olver I (2015) Do patients want doctors to talk about spirituality? A systematic literature review Patient Educ Couns 98: 1320-1328
    • Best M, Aldridge L, Butow P, Olver I, Webster F (2015) Conceptual Analysis of Suffering in Cancer: a systematic review Psychooncology 24: 977-986
    • Best M, Aldridge L, Butow P, Olver I, Price MA, Webster F (2015) Treatment of holistic suffering in cancer: A systematic literature review Palliat Med:29(10):885-98.
    • Best M, Aldridge L, Butow P, Olver I, Price M, Webster F (2015) Assessment of spiritual suffering in the cancer context: A systematic literature review Palliat Support Care: 13(5): 1335-1361.
    • Best M, Butow P, Olver I (2014) The doctor’s role in helping dying patients with cancer achieve peace: A qualitative study Palliat Med 28: 1139-1145.
    • Best M, Butow P, Olver I (2014) Spiritual support of cancer patients and the role of the doctor Support Care Cancer 22: 1333-1339.
    • Aldridge, L., M. Best, P. Butow, M. Price, H. Zorbas, F. Webster and I. Olver (2013). Suffering in Cancer – Conceptualization, Assessment and Interventions. A Systematic Literature Review. Psycho-Oncol 22(Suppl. 3): 121.
    • Best, M., P. Butow and I. Olver (2013). Spiritual needs of patients and the role of doctors in meeting them. Psycho-Oncol 22(Suppl. 3): 120.
    • Best M. (2010) The ethical dilemmas of euthanasia. Case, 25:4-9. ISSN: 1447-7858.
    • Best M. (2008) Advanced Directives – neutralizing the euthanasia debate. Debate, 3:36-38.
    • McCosker, Best M, Lickiss N. (2007). Research identifying triggers of suffering (unpublished) cited in: Malpas J, Lickiss N. (Eds.). Perspectives on Human Dignity. Dordrecht: Springer, p.37. ISBN: 978-1-4020-6280-3.
    • Best M. (2003). Stem cells- the ethics. Kategoria, 31:39-45.
    • Best M. (2002). Euthanasia. Kategoria, 26:27-35.
    • Best M. (2002). The ethical foundation of our treatment of animals: to whom do we have moral obligations? Kategoria, 25:25-38.
    • Best M. (2000). They’ve had a good Innings: the ethics of resource allocation in healthcare. Kategoria, 17:27-38.
    • Best M, Claxton R, Nicholson S, Hill, M, Judge P, Jensen P, Cameron A. (1998). Bioethical Issues. Kategoria, 11:11-23.

    Reports

    • Thomas J, Burke M, Mercer P, Best M. (2015) A Christian perspective on prenatal screening and diagnosis in Australia. Sydney: CMDFA.
    • Errington A, Best M. (2014). Submission for the Inquiry into the Medical Services (Dying with Dignity) Bill 2014. Office of the Archbishop, Anglican Church, Diocese of Sydney.
    • Aldridge L, Best M, Butow P, Price M, Zorbas H, Webster F, Olver I (2012) Suffering in Cancer-Conceptualization, Assessment and Interventions. Sydney: Cancer Australia.
    • Best M, Cooper-Clark D. (2012) Christian conscience in healthcare. Sydney: CMDFA. ISBN: 978-0-9871184-1-7.
    • Best M. (2011). Submission for the Review of the Prohibition of Human Cloning for Reproduction (PHCR) Act 2002 and the Research Involving Human Embryos (RIHE) Act 2002. Social Issues Executive of the Sydney Diocese Anglican Church.
    • Cooper-Clark D, Best M, Burke M, Dunjey L, George K, Mercer P. (2011) A response to euthanasia in Australia. Sydney: CMDFA. OSBN: 978-0-9871184-1-7.
    • Best M. (2009). Submission to the Australian Medical Council for Good Medical Practice: A Code of Conduct for Doctors in Australia. Social Issues Executive of the Sydney Diocese Anglican Church.
    • Submission to Review of Human Cloning and Human Embryo Research Legislation (2005) LRC780. Anglican Church of Australia, Sydney Diocese.
    • Best M. (2004). Designer Humans. The 2004 Smith Lecture.
    • Consent guidelines for Research Involving Human Embryos Act 2002. (2003) National Health and Research Council Licensing Committee.
    • Development and Pilot of the NSW Palliative Care Minimum Data Set, NSW Health Department, 1995.

    Contributions to clinical guidelines

    • Cancer Australia. Clinical guidance for responding to suffering in adults with cancer, June 2014.
    • Cancer Council NSW. Emotions and Cancer: A guide for people with cancer, their families and friends. April 2013.
  • Conference papers

    Conference oral presentations (last five years only)

    • Best M, Butow P, Olver I. Why is it so hard to discuss spirituality? 15th World Congress of the European Association for Palliative Care. Madrid, Spain 18-20 May 2017.
    • Best M, Butow P, Olver I. Creating a safe space: A qualitative inquiry into the way doctors discuss spirituality. European Association of Communication in Healthcare conference, Heidelberg Germany September 2016.
    • Best M, Butow P, Olver I. Comparing palliative care and supportive care specialist beliefs about spiritual care. MASCC International Conference, Adelaide Australia June 2016.
    • Best M, Butow P, Olver I. Helping dying patients with cancer find peace: a qualitative study examining the role of the doctor. MASCC International Conference, Adelaide Australia June 2016.
    • Best M, Butow P, Olver I. Creating a safe space: a qualitative study of spiritual discussions. Inaugural International Adolescent and Young Adult Oncology Congress, Sydney, December 2015.
    • Best M, Butow P, Olver I. Do cancer patients want spiritual care from their doctors? ANZSPM national conference, Gold Coast, 2014.
    • Best M, Aldridge L, Butow P, Olver I, Webster F (2014) Conceptual Analysis of Suffering in Cancer: a systematic review. ANZSPM national conference, Gold Coast, 2014.
    • Bridge D, Ravenscroft P, Best M. Spirituality workshop. ANZSPM national conference, Gold Coast, 2014.
    • Best M. (2014). Brave new world: choosing life’s end in the new millennium. American Scientific Association annual conference, McMaster University, Hamilton, Canada. Published online.
    • Best M, Butow P, Olver I. Do patients want doctors to talk about spirituality? A literature review. Postgraduate cancer research symposium, University of Sydney, November 2013.
    • Best M, Aldridge L, Butow P, Olver I, Webster F. Conceptual Analysis of Suffering in Cancer: a systematic review. International PsychoOncology Society meeting, Rotterdam, The Netherlands. November 2013.
    • Best M, Butow P, Olver I. Spiritual support of cancer patients and the role of the doctor. International PsychoOncology Society meeting, Rotterdam, The Netherlands. November 2013.Best M. A life already started. Fervr National Conference, Rooty Hill. November 2013.
    • Best M. Dementia: what happens to autonomy? HammondCare Conference: International Dementia Partnership of The Dementia Centre and The Dementia Services Development Centre (University of Stirling, UK), Sydney, 2012.
    • Best M, Butow P, Olver I. (2012) Identification of the spiritual needs of patients and the role of doctors in meeting them. Postgraduate cancer research symposium, University of Sydney, November 2012.
    • Aldridge L, Best M, Butow P, Olver I, Price M. Suffering in cancer – conceptualization, assessment and interventions. A systematic literature review. Cancer Australia, Sydney 2012.

    Conference poster presentations

    • Best M, Butow P, Olver I. Helping dying patients with cancer find peace: a qualitative study examining the role of the doctor. MASCC International Conference, Adelaide Australia, June 2016.
    • Best M, Aldridge L, Butow P, Olver I, Webster F (2015) Conceptual Analysis of Suffering in Cancer: a systematic review. European Association of Palliative Care Conference, Copenhagen, Denmark, May 2015.
    • Best M, Butow P, Olver I. (2015). Learning from the experts who discuss spirituality: a qualitative study. European Association of Palliative Care Conference, Copenhagen, Denmark, May 2015.
    • Aldridge L, Best M, Butow P, Price M, Zorbas H, Webster F, Olver I. (2013). Suffering in cancer – a systematic literature review. IPOS Brisbane.
  • Professional affiliations

    Committee Memberships (current)

    • 2018- Board Member, Spiritual Care Australia.
    • 2017 Member, Australian Psychological Association End of Life Roundtable Discussions.
    • 2015- Member, Spiritual Care Task Force, European Association of Palliative Care
    • 2001- Foundation member of the Social Issues Executive, Anglican Church, Sydney Diocese: representative for submissions for bioethical issues.

    Current Society Memberships

    • Global Network of Spirituality and Health
    • Australian Association of Bioethics and Health Law
    • Palliative Care Clinical Studies Collaborative
    • Sydney Catalyst Translational Cancer Research Centre
    • Sydney Vital (Northern Translational Cancer Research Unit)
    • Psycho-Oncology Cooperative Research Group
    • Australia New Zealand Society of Palliative Medicine
    • The Center for Bioethics and Human Dignity, Trinity International University, Chicago
    • Plunkett Centre for Ethics, St Vincents Hospital, Darlinghurst, Sydney
    • Institute for Ethics and Society, University of Notre Dame Australia
    • Christian Medical and Dental Fellowship Australia
  • Community engagement

    Invited Speaker (last five years only)

    • Spirituality in Healthcare. St Vincent’s Hospital Sydney Grand Rounds, 24 October 2017.
    • Researching spirituality in Healthcare. St Vincent’s Health Australia Pastoral Care Working Party meeting, Sydney, 6 October 2017.
    • Ethics of Contraception. Let the children come conference, Houston Texas USA, 9 September 2017.
    • Spirituality in Healthcare. Spiritual Care Working Party, Royal Australasian College of Physicians, Sydney, 9 August 2017.
    • Ethics of euthanasia. Engage lunch series. Public lecture hosted by ADM, Sydney, 14 August 2017.
    • Public debate with Prof Neil Levy, Macquarie and Oxford Universities, on euthanasia. Hosted by Futures Forums, Sydney. 27 July 2017.
    • Euthanasia. Christian Medical and Dental Fellowship Australia. Brisbane, July 2017.
    • Euthanasia. SMBC Hot Topics. Sydney, May 2017.
    • Addressing spiritual needs – an optional extra? Enhancing quality and safety: Spiritual Care in health. Spiritual Care Australia Consensus Conference. Melbourne, June 2017.
    • The Suffering Patient. Hospice New Zealand Genesis Breakfast Lecture Series 2016. By teleconference, 1 December 2016.
    • Matters of life and death. Charles Sturt University, Port Macquarie, November 2016.
    • Should euthanasia be legalized? A consideration of the ethics involved. Burwood Christian Union, Deakin University, Geelong, September 2016.
    • Fearfully and wonderfully made: Ethics and the beginning of human life. Deakin University Christian Union and AFES. Public Lecture. Melbourne, September 2016.
    • Euthanasia. Freedom 16 Conference. Freedom for Faith, Sydney August 2016.
    • Safeguarding our patients from the euthanasia debate. 2016 Annual Scientific Meeting, Medical Oncology Group of Australia, Gold Coast August 2016.
    • Euthanasia. SMA Perth, University of Western Australia, May 2016.
    • Origins of Human Personhood, AFES Murdoch University, Perth May 2016.
    • Looking for answers. Iaugural Australasian Youth Cancer Summit. Sydney, December 2015.
    • Suffering. The Palliative Care Bridge. HammondCare consortium. http://www.palliativecarebridge.com.au/index.htm. 2015.
    • Abortion. Moore College, October 2015.
    • Suffering, spirituality and refreshment. CMDFA National Conference. Sydney, 2015.
    • Brave New World. American Scientific Affiliation Annual Meeting. Public lecture at McMaster University, Hamilton, Canada. July 2014.
    • The truth about contraceptives. The Gospel Coalition (TGC) Women’s Conference, Orlando FL, USA. June 2014.
    • Screening in normal pregnancy. TGC Women’s Conference, Orlando FL, USA. June 2014.
    • Living with terminal illness. Community Issues Forum, St Matthew’s Anglican Church, West Pennant Hills, May 2014.
    • Best M. If euthanasia is the answer, what is the problem? Re-thinking: a public faith conference. Sydney. March 2014.
    • Best M. NSW Rights of the Terminally Ill Bill. Special Briefing on Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide. NSW Parliament House. May 2013.
    • Ethics at the beginning of life. Public Lecture, Trinity International University, Chicago Illinois USA, April 2013.
    • Allow natural death. COTA NSW Parliamentary Forum. Let’s talk about dying, 2013. Published online.
    • Ethics at the beginning of life. Westminster Conference on Science and Faith, 2013 Westminster Theological Seminary and Discovery Institute’s Center for Science and Culture, Philadelphia USA.
    • New Directions in Assisted Reproduction. 2013 TGC National Conference, Orlando FL, USA, April 2013.
    • Leadership in a moral minefield. National Prayer Breakfast, Parliament House, Canberra, September 2012.
  • Awards

    Grants and Scholarships 

    • 2017 Cancer Institute New South Wales Early Career Researcher Fellowship Grant. Overcoming psychosocial and ethical issues in cancer genomics: Translating test results into behavioural change. Awarded $564,666 from Jan 2017 for three years.
    • Kearney M, Best M, Merrit F, Lynch S, Casey M, Eisman J. Inspired to Care Grant. Spiritual history taking study. St Vincent’s Health, Australia. $10,000.
    • Lynch S, Best M, Smartt T, Eisman J, Kearney M. Euthanasia: Ethics Informed by the Facts. St Vincent’s Health, Australia. $10,000.
    • Kearney M, Washington J, Deweerd P, Lynch S, Best M, Merritt F. Identifying Aboriginal Pastoral and spiritual care needs. IHIF Award, $200,000.
    • Best M. University of Notre Dame Australia Research Incentive Scheme, $3,000.
    • Best M, Weerakoon P, Penzo E. Gender Identity. Anglican Church of Sydney, $2000.
    • 2016 Butow P, Newson A, Best M, Meiser B, Juraskova I, Goldstein D, Tucker K, Ballinger M, Gatto D, Schlub T. NHMRC Project Grant. Cancer genomics; Psychosocial, behavioural and ethical issues and outcomes, two inter-related longitudinal studies. Awarded $506,654.30 from Jan 2017 for three years.
    • Sydney Catalyst Travel and Education award. $1000.
    • 2015 Postgraduate Research Support Scheme. $1707.33.
    • Cancer Research Network Postgraduate Conference Travel Grant. $500.
    • 2013 Postgraduate Research Support Scheme. $1455.25.
    • Public Health Coursework Scholarship, USyd. $3437.50
    • 2012 James Kentley Memorial Scholarship. Spirituality and Health. $2500. Postgraduate Research Support Scheme.
    • Cancer Australia. Suffering in cancer – conceptualization, assessment and interventions. Butow P, Olver I, Price M, Best M. Cancer Australia. $59,160.
    • 2012 Australian Postgraduate Award and The University of Sydney Merit Award. Spiritual needs of patients and the role of doctors in meeting them. $86,184 over 3 years.