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Psychological impact of lung cancer screening and test results


We are seeking expressions of interest (EOI) from highly motivated candidates interested in pursuing a PhD program in health services research or implementation science within the cancer care context. This program of research will explore the psychological impact of lung cancer screening in Australia. The successful candidate will be expected to apply for a PhD Scholarship through Research Training Program (RTP) University of Sydney and/or NHMRC Postgraduate Scholarship simultaneous with their university enrolment and/or in the first year of their PhD.


Dr Rachael Dodd.

Research location

Camperdown - School of Public Health

Program type



One of the potential harms of cancer screening is the potential for psychological burden, related to both screening itself and the results. One systematic review concluded that LCS might be associated with short-term adverse psychological burden, particularly after a false positive result. However, these adverse effects diminished over time. Since the time of that review, qualitative research has shown both positive and negative responses in screeners receiving an incidental or indeterminate result, spanning from invitation to receiving the results and any follow-up. In addition, cancer distress has been shown to be higher in certain subgroups (e.g. women, current smokers). The high rate of false positive test results may suggest many patients are at risk for screen-related distress and potential invasive procedures for benign nodules. Studies could include: 1) RCT testing ways to communicate test results to a patient; 2) Uptake of repeat scans; 3) Communication of test results to PCPs. The overall aim would be to develop measures that could be implemented alongside screening.

Additional information

Research Environment
The research will take place at the School of Public Health at The University of Sydney. The candidate will work under the direct supervision of four experienced academics: Dr Nicole Rankin, Dr Rachael Dodd, Dr Samantha Quaife (Queen Mary University, London) and Dr Heather Shepherd, who have extensive experience in behavioural science, implementation science and health communication. The candidate will also have access to a multidisciplinary network which comprises of expertise in lung cancer screening, primary care research, and vital connections with key stakeholders and consumer representatives, as well as further research support through Faculty of Medicine and Health and School of Nursing.
Candidate Profile
a. Applicants must have an unconditional offer of admission for full-time studies in a PhD at the University of Sydney.
b. Applicants must be willing to conduct research into lung cancer screening.
c. Applicants must hold a Honours (1 or 2A) or a Master's Degree in psychology, health or social sciences, public health, medicine, nursing or other related area.
d. Applicant must be able to demonstrate the following:
I. the ability to perform quantitative social research,
II. the ability to perform qualitative research,
III. the ability to work in a multi-disciplinary research team,
V. project management and organisational ability, and
VI. the ability to fulfil goals and deliver outcomes within a specified time period.
e. Applicants must apply for further Scholarship and/or research funds.
f. Applicants must have publications in public health or health services.
g. Applicants must be an Australian Citizen, Australian Permanent Resident or New Zealand Citizen.
Essential Selection Criteria:
• Hold a relevant Honours or Masters degree
• Demonstrated ability to perform quantitative social research such as surveys, experimental studies or randomised trials, and associated data analysis
• Evidence of project management and organisation ability, including the ability to fulfill goals and deliver outcomes within a specified time period
• Demonstrated interest in a career in health services research
• Outstanding written and verbal communication skills
• Demonstrated ability to work in a multi-disciplinary research team
• Demonstrated ability to analyses data using SPSS, SAS, and Excel
• Demonstrated interest in cancer screening
• Capacity to seek scholarship funds, with support from supervisors
Desired Selection Criteria
• Demonstrated ability to perform qualitative research such as interviews, focus groups, thematic coding and analysis
• Publication(s) in public health or health services research
Amount awarded
The Research Training Program Stipend Scholarship rate (formerly Australian Postgraduate Awards), which is indexed annually 1 January. In 2020 it is $35,000.
How to Apply
Please send an email with your CV and a short cover letter outlining your background and motivation to Dr Rachael Dodd:

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Opportunity ID

The opportunity ID for this research opportunity is 2906

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