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Ovarian Cancer Psychosocial Research Centre

Psychosocial Research Centre

Investigating and addressing the psychological, emotional, social, and spiritual impacts of ovarian cancer

The Centre was established with the aim to further psychosocial research, establish research priorities and support new and emerging research projects

Ovarian Cancer Australia’s commitment to psychosocial research began in 2018 and has involved creating collaborations with major Australian universities in an effort to expand the available Australian literature, disseminating these learnings and translating findings into effective and evidence-based support interventions as well as contributing to the direction of further research.

The areas outlined below were established via a 2019 Ovarian Cancer Australia collaboration 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. 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?”

  • “What psychosocial issues should be the focus of future ovarian cancer research?”.

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

The areas identified above are used to guide the focus and activity of the psychosocial research centre.

The centre is also invested in the translation of research into evidence based and effective psychosocial interventions for people impacted by ovarian cancer. This is a continuation of OCA’s previous projects in several areas of psychosocial research including fear of cancer recurrence and progression, carer wellbeing and sexuality and body image.

For enquiries regarding the centre’s activities please contact Centre lead Hayley Russell hayley.russell@ovariancancer.net.au.

Our Advisory Committee

The advisory committee connected to the Ovarian Cancer Australia Psychosocial Research Centre has been created to guide activity for the newly established centre. Invited members of the committee are academics or health professionals with significant expertise and experience in ovarian cancer psychosocial research or psychosocial support..

Hayley Russell

Hayley Russell is a passionate and committed clinician who currently holds the role of Senior Research Manager with Ovarian Cancer Australia as well as a specialist support position in bereavement with Victoria’s largest community palliative care provider.

A/Prof Haryana Dhillon

Associate Professor Haryana Dhillon (BSc MA PhD) is a Senior Research Fellow, who co-leads the Survivorship Research Group at the University of Sydney. They chair the Scientific Advisory Committee of the Psycho-Oncology Cooperative Research Group.

A/Prof Michelle Peate

A/Prof Michelle Peate is the Program Leader for the Psychosocial Health and Wellbeing Research (emPoWeR) Unit, University of Melbourne.

Louise Sharpe

Professor Louise Sharpe is a highly regarded and widely known clinical psychologist. Her fields of expertise and research are adjustment to illness, chronic pain, psycho-oncology and the cognitive processes involved in ill health.

Dr Ben Smith

Dr Ben Smith is a Cancer Institute NSW Career Development Fellow and Senior Implementation Scientist at the Daffodil Centre, University of Sydney and Cancer Council NSW.

A/Prof Lesley Stafford

Associate Professor Lesley Stafford is a clinical psychologist who works predominantly with women diagnosed with breast and gynaecologic cancer and women considered at high risk of developing breast or ovarian cancer.

Dr Lauren Williams

Dr Lauren Williams is a clinical psychologist and manager of the psychosocial support team at Ovarian Cancer Australia. Lauren provides clinical psychology support to people affected by ovarian cancer, including partners and carers. 

Amanda Hutchinson

Amanda Hutchinson is an Associate Professor in Clinical Psychology at the University of South Australia. Her research is focused on improving quality of life for people affected by cancer.


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.

Current projects

TitleAuthorsCollaborating Institution
Pilot Qualitative Study; Conquer Fear from Ovarian CancerAssociate Professor Haryana Dhillon and colleaguesUniversity 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, University of Sydney
Fear of Cancer Recurrence Among Carers of Patients with Gynaecological CancersKyra Webb, Dr Joanne Shaw & Professor Louise SharpeUniversity of Sydney
Scanxiety in People with Ovarian CancerProfessor Louise Sharpe and Audrey BennettUniversity 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 MySurvivorCare Study; How many women experience long-term side-effects after cancer and cancer treatment?A/Prof Michelle Peate, Prof Martha Hickey, Dr Jennifer Marino, Ms Sherine Sandhu, Dr Sarah Lensen, Ms Nipuni SusantoUniversity of Melbourne and Royal Women’s Hospital, Melbourne


Guided versus non-guided digital psychological interventions for cancer patients: A systematic review and meta-analysis of engagement and efficacy

Published in: Psycho-Oncology

Aleyna Akdemir, Allan “Ben” Smith, Verena Shuwen Wu, Orlando Rincones, Hayley Russell, Johanne Dam Lyhne, Emma Kemp, Michael David, Adeola Bamgboje-Ayodele

University of Sydney, University of New South Wales, Griffith University, Flinders University, University Hospital of Southern Denmark

Development and validation of the CARE‐FCR: A caregiver‐specific measure of fear of cancer recurrence and progression

Published in: Psycho-Oncology

Kyra Webb, Louise Sharpe, Joanne Shaw (University of Sydney)

Fear, worry and sadness: an exploratory study of psychological wellbeing in men caring for their partner with ovarian cancer

Published in: Supportive Care in Cancer

Dr Janelle Levesque, Claudia Farnsworth, Rhys Luckey, Rosetta Hart, Sue Hegarty (Monash University)

The impact of ovarian cancer on individuals and their caregivers: A qualitative analysis

Published in: Psycho-Oncology

Jit Hui Tan, Louise Sharpe & Hayley Russell (University of Sydney)

Sexual functioning after ovarian cancer: are women receiving the information and support they need?

Published in: Supportive Care in Cancer

Lesley Stafford, Hayley Russell, Elizabeth Knoetze, Victoria Wilson, Ruth Little (The University of Melbourne, Royal Women's Hospital)

Is a Brief Online Booklet Sufficient to Reduce Fear of Cancer Recurrence or Progression in Women With Ovarian Cancer?

Published in: Frontiers in Psychology

Poorva Pradhan, Louise Sharpe, Hayley Russell, Phyllis Butow & Allan Ben Smith (University 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-Oncology

Daelin Coutts‐Bain, Louise Sharpe, Poorva Pradhan, Lauren C. Heathcote, and Daniel Costa (University of Sydney)

Are fear of cancer recurrence and fear of progression equivalent constructs?

Published in: Psycho-Oncology

Professor Louise Sharpe & Daelin Coutts-Bain (University 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 Care

Sally-Anne Boding, Hayley Russell, Ricki Knoetze, Victoria Wilson, Lesley Stafford (University of South Australia and University of Melbourne)

Exploring the experiences and priorities of women with a diagnosis of ovarian cancer

Published in: Supportive Care in Cancer

Dr Michelle Peate, Dr Jen Marino, Maree Pasvanis, Daniella Salib (University of Melbourne)

Fear of cancer recurrence in ovarian cancer caregivers: A qualitative study

Published in: Psycho-Oncology

Kyra Webb, Louise Sharpe, Joanne Shaw (University of Sydney).

The role of interpretation biases and symptom burden in fear of cancer recurrence/progression among ovarian cancer survivors

Published in: Psycho-Oncology

Poorva Pradhan, Louise Sharpe & Phyllis Butow (University of Sydney)


Check back for educational opportunities and webinars organised by the Ovarian Cancer Centre for Psychosocial Research.

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.