Current research (2019 – present)

My primary research interest at present is whether, and how, we can measure participant understanding of discrete choice experiment tasks. To address this I am conducting reviews of the literature and using existing data to review the use and usefulness of debriefing questions and validity tests. In addition to this, I maintain streams of research in areas such as: applied discrete choice experiments, productivity loss due to cancer, economic evaluation of interventions in cancer survivorship, and increasing the use of health economics in occupational therapy research.

The true costs of cancer – using health economics to optimise healthcare funding decisions (2016 – 2019)

I undertook a Chancellor’s Postdoctoral Research Fellowship at the Centre for Health Economics Research and Evaluation (CHERE) at UTS. The first work package in my fellowship involved using existing data to estimate cancer-related lost productivity in Australia and to make recommendations for if and how lost productivity could be included in economic evaluations in the Australian context. In the second work package I collected data to explore how individuals and society make trade-offs between the outcomes of cancer treatment (such as survival) and quality of life (such as being able to work). Understanding these trade-offs is critical to understanding whether increasingly expensive cancer treatments represent good value when assessed in economic evaluations. I was also involved in multiple smaller projects on topics in cancer (such as the incidence of financial toxicity, rates of return to unpaid work roles, and the costs of managing anxiety and depression), in other health areas (such as patient preferences for diabetes treatments) and in methodological research (such as the use of debriefing questions in DCEs and estimating the friction period for Australia). During my fellowship I was awarded funding to support a five-month visiting fellowship at the University of British Columbia, to learn more about the different ways discrete choice experiment results can be used, including to guide clinical trial design and to develop patient decision aids.

Challenges in cancer survivorship – costs, inequalities and post-treatment follow-up (2013-2016)

I undertook an Health Research Board Interdisciplinary Capacity Enhancement post-doctoral fellowship at the National Cancer Registry Ireland (NCRI) as part of a team investigating issues of cost, inequality and follow-up services for cancer survivors . My research found that: (i) although society loses the economic contribution people make through the workforce when someone has cancer, the way this loss measured and valued has implications for how it can be used in policy and decision making; (ii) moving prostate cancer follow-up in Ireland out of the specialist hospital setting and into primary care would be cost saving; and (iii) patient preferences for cancer follow-up are difficult to capture through discrete choice experiment methods.

  • For more details of the overall project see the overview on the  NCRI website.
  • For a seminar presentation of the work I did in the economics of cancer follow-up, see the STEP seminar site (presentation starts at 1:30).
  • For short, lay summaries of various components of my research, see the various media coverage I have received.

Investigating chemotherapy adverse events – incidence, costs and consequences (2009-2013)

I undertook my PhD from October 2009 to March 2013 at the Centre for Health Economics Research and Evaluation (CHERE) at the University of Technology, Sydney (UTS). My thesis examined the incidence, costs and consequences associated with the side effects of chemotherapy. My research found that: (i) most patients report multiple, ongoing side effects during chemotherapy, and these are probably more frequent in standard practice than the incidence described in clinical trial publications; (ii) there are a number of important costs and consequences of chemotherapy side effects which are typically excluded from economic evaluations of new chemotherapy drugs, but which could have a significant impact on estimates of cost effectiveness; and (iii) while some chemotherapy side effects can be identified using administrative data, this is not sufficient to provide reliable inputs to economic evaluations of chemotherapy treatments. I owe many thanks to my supervisors, Marion Haas and Rosalie Viney (both at CHERE), who guided me, supported me and provided me many opportunities along the way.

  • For a more detailed summary of my PhD research, see my thesis abstract.
  • For short, lay summaries of various components of my research, see the various media coverage I have received.
  • For those who are very interested, my full thesis can be found in the UTS Repository.
  • For the list of people who helped me along the way, see my PhD acknowledgements.

Cancer Research Economics Support Team (2011-2013, 2016-2018)

The Cancer Research Economics Support Team (CREST) was set up at the Centre for Health Economics Research and Evaluation (CHERE) at the University of Technology, Sydney (UTS) as part of the Cancer Australia Support for Clinical Trials program and the Boost Cancer Research measure. As coordinator of the program I liaised and communicated with the Cancer Collaborative Clinical Trials group sin Australia to introduce health economics into clinical trial design and analysis. More recently I supported the program by producing resources (such as factsheets and workshop sessions) for trials groups and completing protocol reviews. For more information, visit the CREST website.