Dialog Box

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, Support Coordinator at support@ovariancancer.net.au

Current Projects



Collaborating Institution

Scanxiety in People with Ovarian Cancer

Professor Louise Sharpe and Audrey Bennett

University of Sydney

Experiences and priorities of people with ovarian cancer, their families, friends and carers

Dr Michelle Peate, Dr Jen Marino, Maree Pasvanis, Daniella Salib

University of Melbourne

Sexuality, Intimacy, and Quality of Life in women with ovarian cancer and their partners

Dr Lesley Stafford, Elizabeth Knoetze, Victoria Wilson

University of Melbourne and The Royal Women’s Hospital

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 usability

Dr Ben Smith and colleagues

Centre for Oncology Education and Research Translation (CONCERT), Ingham Institute for Applied Medical Research

ConquerFear Advanced: A randomized control trial to reduce fear of cancer recurrence in patients with advanced disease

Professor Louise Sharpe and colleagues

University 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 colleagues

QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute

Pilot Qualitative Study; Conquer Fear from Ovarian Cancer

Associate Professor Haryana Dhillon

University of Sydney

Fear of Cancer Recurrence Among Carers of Patients with Gynaecological Cancers

Kyra Webb, Dr Joanne Shaw & Professor Louise Sharpe

University of Sydney

Cognitive bias modification for interpretation (CBM-I) in management of fear of cancer recurrence/progression in women with breast and ovarian cancer

Poorva Pradhan, Louise Sharpe & Wendy Lichtenthal

University of Sydney and Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center

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 Onur

University of South Australia

Pathways for genetic testing for ovarian cancer in Australia Phase 1: Understanding referral pathways and potential variation

Natalie Taylor, Karen Canfell, Anna deFazio, Paul Grogan, Carolyn Nickson, Lara Petelin, Julia Steinberg, Gabriella Tiernan, Amy Vassallo, Louiza Velentzis, Sue Hegarty & April Morrow

University of Sydney

Completed Projects and Publications



Collaborating Institution

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 Cancer

Paul 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


Psychosocial Research Priorities in Ovarian Cancer; A Delphi Study

Louise Sharpe, Estelle Goarin

University of Sydney

Do Symptoms and Their Interpretation affect women’s response to an OC Resource? 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 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

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, Hayley Russell

University of Sydney

The men’s needs study: Exploring the wellbeing of men caring for women with ovarian cancer. Published in Supportive Care in Cancer

Dr Janelle Levesque, Claudia Farnsworth, Rhys Luckey

Monash University

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

Understanding Fear of Cancer Recurrence and Fear of Cancer Progression in Ovarian Cancer. 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

Measuring Buffers of Death Anxiety and Fear of Cancer Recurrence in Women with Ovarian Cancer

Matthew Watt, Louise Sharpe, Angela Jones, Hayley Russell

University of Sydney