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Psychosocial research

Psychosocial Research

Our research projects are integral to helping us focus on key issues and provide better outcomes for women diagnosed with ovarian cancer. 

Ovarian Cancer Australia's Collaborations in Psychosocial Research; Addressing Priorities and Unmet Needs

Ovarian Cancer Australia knows the importance of supporting women in all aspects of their life following a cancer diagnosis including their psychological, social and emotional wellbeing and as such collaborates with major Australian universities and other institutions on a range of research in these areas. To ensure our work in this area is relevant and in line with the needs of those affected in 2019 Ovarian Cancer Australia collaborated with a team at the University of Sydney (Estelle Goarin, Louise Sharpe and Joanne Shaw) on a Delphi study to establish research priorities in the area of ovarian cancer psychosocial research.

The study sought responses from women with an ovarian cancer diagnosis, researchers, clinicians and journal editors and 32 respondents took part. In the first round respondents were asked the following questions; “What are the current psychosocial issues faced by women diagnosed with ovarian cancer?”, “What psychosocial issues cause the most impairment in the lives of women living with ovarian cancer?”, “Are there any psychosocial issues that, in your opinion, are significantly under-researched in ovarian cancer?”, and “What psychosocial issues should be the focus of future ovarian cancer research?

The team then worked in collaboration to group the resulting responses into themes (data from a large scale 2017 survey of unmet needs assisted in ensuring all possible themes and groupings were considered.) 36 themes, covering a range of psychosocial concerns, were established in this round. In Round 2 respondents were asked to rank these 36 themes in order of priority and to nominate their top 5 psychosocial issues, in order of importance. This round established consensus from the group of respondents on 21 issues. In Round 3, respondents were again asked to rank all 21 issues and rate their 5 top priorities.

In the rating section, the top priorities were as follows:

1. Effective Psychosocial Interventions

2. Insomnia

3. Fear of Cancer Recurrence

4. Side effects of treatment

5. Sexual Concerns

6. End of Life Issues

In the ranking section, the top priorities were:

1. Effective Psychosocial Interventions

2. Fear of Cancer Recurrence

3. Side Effects of Treatment

4. Family and Caregiver Concerns

5. Access to Psycho-oncology Treatment

6. Survivorship

As allocated resources for all aspects of cancer research are often limited, results of this Delphi study should guide researchers and organisations to focus future research on top established priorities, such as effective psychosocial interventions and fear of cancer recurrence. 

Ovarian Cancer Australia is currently undertaking research collaborations on a range of the topics identified including fear of cancer recurrence, sleep issues and sexual concerns. Please see a full list of psychosocial research collaborations below.

For more information or enquiries regarding OCA's psychosocial research projects please contact Hayley Russell, Senior Research Manager at support@ovariancancer.net.au

Current Projects

TitleAuthorsCollaborating Institution
Losing sleep: The impact of sleep disturbance and fatigue on the quality of life of women with ovarian cancer post-treatment.Amanda Hutchinson, John Wilson, Tayla Bradley, Isabella Ryan, Crystal Yates and Ilke OnurUniversity of South Australia
Pilot Qualitative Study; Conquer Fear from Ovarian CancerAssociate Professor Haryana DhillonUniversity of Sydney
iConquer Fear: Adaptation of an evidence-based face-to-face treatment for fear of cancer recurrence to an online self-management intervention and evaluation of its usabilityDr Ben Smith and colleaguesCentre for Oncology Education and Research Translation (CONCERT), Ingham Institute for Applied Medical Research
Sexuality, Intimacy, and Quality of Life in women with ovarian cancer and their partnersDr Lesley Stafford, Elizabeth Knoetze, Victoria WilsonUniversity of Melbourne and The Royal Women’s Hospital
Experiences and priorities of people with ovarian cancer, their families, friends and carersDr Michelle Peate, Dr Jen Marino, Maree Pasvanis, Daniella SalibUniversity of Melbourne
Fear of Cancer Recurrence Among Carers of Patients with Gynaecological CancersKyra Webb, Dr Joanne Shaw & Professor Louise SharpeUniversity of Sydney
Pathways for genetic testing for ovarian cancer in Australia Phase 1: Understanding referral pathways and potential variationNatalie Taylor, Karen Canfell, Anna deFazio, Paul Grogan, Carolyn Nickson, Lara Petelin, Julia Steinberg, Gabriella Tiernan, Amy Vassallo, Louiza Velentzis, Sue Hegarty & April MorrowUniversity of Sydney
Cognitive bias modification for interpretation (CBM-I) in management of fear of cancer recurrence/progression in women with breast and ovarian cancerPoorva Pradhan, Louise Sharpe & Wendy LichtenthalUniversity of Sydney and Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center
Scanxiety in People with Ovarian CancerProfessor Louise Sharpe and Audrey BennettUniversity of Sydney
ConquerFear Advanced: A randomized control trial to reduce fear of cancer recurrence in patients with advanced diseaseProfessor Louise Sharpe and colleaguesUniversity of Sydney
Ovarian cancer: investigating Variation in care and survival, Aetiology and Risk factors to Improve outcomes in Australia via National data linkage. The OVARIAN study.Professor Penny Webb and colleaguesQIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute


The Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre (PMCC) Can-Sleep Program is the first Australian program that specifically targets sleep difficulties amongst adults with cancer. This program has been found to be acceptable to clinicians and patients, feasible to deliver and to have demonstrated benefits on sleep outcomes. At OCA, The PSS team are adapting and implementing CanSleep to address the specific sleep needs of people with ovarian cancer and will be trialled in 2024 amongst approximately 60 people with a diagnosis of ovarian cancer and receiving support from OCA.

Dr Maria Ftanou

Lead investigator

Head of Psychology and Psychiatry

Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre

Dr Lauren Williams

Senior Clinical Psychologist and Psychosocial Support Manager

Ovarian Cancer Australia

Emma Vaughan

Project Manager

Pater MacCallum Cancer Centre

Rosetta Hart

Senior Ovarian Cancer Support Nurse

Ovarian Cancer Australia

Prof Michael Jefford

Medical Oncologist/Director

Australian Cancer Survivorship Centre

Prof Linda Mileshkin

Director of Medical Oncology

Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre

 Prof Martha Hickey

Director of Women's Gynaecology Research Centre

Royal Women's Hospital

Dr Joshua Wiley

Sleep Researcher

Monash University

Hayley Russell

Senior Research Manager

Ovarian Cancer Australia

Completed Projects and Publications

Title Authors Collaborating Institution
The men’s needs study: Exploring the wellbeing of men caring for women with ovarian cancer. Published in Supportive Care in CancerDr Janelle Levesque, Claudia Farnsworth, Rhys LuckeyMonash University
The impact of ovarian cancer on individuals and their caregivers: A qualitative analysis. Published in Psycho-OncologyJit Hui Tan, Louise Sharpe & Hayley RussellUniversity of Sydney
Sexual functioning after ovarian cancer: are women receiving the information and support they need? Published in Supportive Care in CancerLesley Stafford, Hayley Russell, Elizabeth Knoetze, Victoria Wilson, Ruth LittleThe University of Melbourne, Royal Women's Hospital
Psychosocial Research Priorities in Ovarian Cancer; A Delphi StudyLouise Sharpe, Estelle GoarinUniversity of Sydney
Measuring Buffers of Death Anxiety and Fear of Cancer Recurrence in Women with Ovarian CancerMatthew Watt, Louise Sharpe, Angela Jones, Hayley RussellUniversity of Sydney
Getting the MOST out of follow-up: a randomized controlled trial comparing 3 monthly nurse led follow-up via telehealth, including monitoring CA125 and patient reported outcomes using the MOST (Measure of Ovarian Symptoms and Treatment concerns) with routine clinic based or telehealth follow-up, after completion of first line chemotherapy in patients with epithelial ovarian cancer. Published in The International Journal of Gynaecological CancerPaul Cohen, Penelope Webb, Madeleine King, Andreas Obermair, Val Gebski, Phyllis Butow, Rachael Morton, Wanda Lawson, Patsy Yates, Rachel Campbell, Tarek Meniawy, Michelle McMullen, Andrew Dean, Jeffrey Goh, Orla McNally, Linda Mileshkin, Philip Beale, Rhonda Beach, Jane Hill, Cyril Dixon, Sue Hegarty, Jim Codde, Angela Ives, Yeh Chen Lee, Alison Brand, Anne Mellon, Sanela Bilic, Isobel Black, Stephanie Jeffares, Michael Friedlander
Do Symptoms and Their Interpretation affect women’s response to an OC Resource? Published in Frontiers in PsychologyPoorva Pradhan, Louise Sharpe, Hayley Russell, Phyllis Butow & Allan Ben SmithUniversity of Sydney, University of New South Wales
The role of interpretation biases and symptom burden in fear of cancer recurrence/progression among ovarian cancer survivors. Published in Psycho-OncologyPoorva Pradhan, Louise Sharpe, Phyllis Butow, Hayley RussellUniversity of Sydney
Understanding Fear of Cancer Recurrence and Fear of Cancer Progression in Ovarian Cancer. Published in Psycho-OncologyProfessor Louise Sharpe & Daelin Coutts-BainUniversity of Sydney
‘Sometimes I can't look in the mirror’: Recognising the importance of the sociocultural context in patient experiences of sexuality, relationships and body image after ovarian cancer. Published in European Journal of Cancer CareSally-Anne Boding, Hayley Russell, Ricki Knoetze, Victoria Wilson, Lesley StaffordUniversity of South Australia
Acknowledgement flags

Ovarian Cancer Australia acknowledges the Traditional Owners of the land where our office is located, the Wurundjeri people of the Kulin Nation and we pay our respects to Elders past and present.