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1994 …2023

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Personal profile


I am a Health Psychologist researching across broad domains of behavioural medicine with a focus on psycho-oncology. My research interests fall into a number of areas including decision making in cancer and in genetic testing, coping and adjustment in the cancer context, body image and sexual functioning after physical illness, including endometriosis, and the development and evaluation of psychosocial interventions to facilitate adjustment in the physical health context. Other areas of research include infertility, bereavement and grieving, stress and stress beliefs and rumination in illness, including the development and validation of measures in these areas. My work most recently has entailed investigating the role of self-compassion in adjustment to illness and the development and evaluation of a self-compassion focused writing intervention to help with body image concerns after physical illness. I have contributed several book chapters on topics as diverse as body image in cancer, coping with lymphoedema (a cancer treatment side-effect), and psychosocial aspects of genetic testing. I have recently co-authored a textbook, Health Psychology in Australia. 


(2020) Elected Fellow of the Society of Behavioral Medicine (US), Society of Behavioral Medicine

(2018) Distinguished Career Contribution Award, International Society of Behavioral Medicine

(2017) Excellence in Research: Five future-shaping priorities (Health People), Macquarie University

(2017) Vice-Chancellor’s Citation for Outstanding Contributions to Student Learning, Macquarie University

(2016) Best Psychosocial Paper Award (Pre-surrogacy assessment: Positive and negative indicators), Fertility Society of Australia

(2014) American Psychological Association (APA), Distinguished International Affiliate, Division 38 Health Psychology

(2013) Best of the Best – San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium Scientific Posters

Miami Breast Conference

(2013) Best research oral paper

International Meeting on Psychological Aspects of Hereditary Cancer

(2009) Best Senior Oral Paper

British Psychosocial Oncology Society

(2004) Best Scientific Poster, Society of Behavioural Medicine (US)

(2001) Best Psychosocial Paper, International Federation of Fertility Societies


Current Research Projects

  1. Development and evaluation of a lifestyle focused text messaging intervention for individuals living with endometriosis.
  2. Applying self-compassion focused writing to address body image concerns following head and neck cancer (collaborations with I. Verdonck, Vrije University, Amsterdam)
  3. Choices in breast surgery and reconstruction: implementation and testing of a web-based psychoeducational intervention to facilitate decision making (collaborating with E. Bleiker, Netherlands Cancer Institute, Amsterdam)
  4. Applying the My Changed Body self-compassion focused writing intervention to recently diagnosed breast cancer patients (collaborating with E.Elder, Westmead Breast Cancer Institute)

Research interests

Medical decision making; adjustment and coping in cancer; body image and cancer; sexual functioning, relationship functioning and body image in illness; self-compassion; mindfulness; attachment style; rumination in physical illness; caregiving in illness; stress and stress beliefs; psychosocial intervention development and evaluation.


Deputy Head of Department, Learning and Teaching

PSYU2224 Psychology, Health and Wellbeing

PSYH4466 Advanced Issues in Health Psychology

PSYH4499 The Scientist Practitioner Model

PSYC9994 Health Psychology component of this unit (Clinical Masters)

Research student supervision

I supervise a range of research projects broadly within behavioural medicine including:

  • Decision making in medical contexts
  • Close relationships in cancer and physical illness
  • Self-compassion focused interventions
  • Caregiving in cancer and illness - adjustment and coping
  • Development and validation of scales/measures
  • Quantitative and qualitative research

Current HDR Research Supervision

Lorna Huang (PhD) Cognitive functioning in men diagnosed with prostate cancer undergoing hormone treatment

Hayley McDonald (PhD), Attachment style, mindfulness, emotion regulation and distress

Louise Koelmeyer (PhD), Self-management of cancer-related lymphoedema

Anna Singleton (PhD, USyd), Text messaging to improve breast cancer outcomes

Carla Sullivan-Myers (PhD), Longitudinal assessment of body image and psychological distress in individuals living with endometriosis

Melissa Pehlivan (MRes), Exploring body image processes in individuals living with endometriosis


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