Past Grants and Projects

ARC Grants

Project Title Multiple Perspectives on Sexuality and Intimacy Post-Cancer, Leading to the Development and Evaluation of Supportive Interventions.

Ussher J, Perz J, Gilbert E, Batt GM, Sundquist KJ, Wain GV, Kirsten LT, Hobbs K.   AI: Kerridge I.

Grant Type ARC Linkage Grant LP0883344
Duration January 2008-December 2008
Funding $112,0981
Project Summary Sexuality and intimacy are key aspects of individuals’ quality of life that are detrimentally affected by cancer, with significant proportions of couples reporting cessation of sex and intimate physical contact post-cancer, resulting in considerable distress. Despite this, sexuality is rarely addressed by health professionals, and remains largely invisible within policy and practice guidelines developed to improve the quality of life of people with cancer and their partners. Current knowledge about sexuality and intimacy post-cancer is also restricted by the focus on a limited range of cancer types, blindness to the experiences of partners, and a limited range of methodologies in research studies. Professor Jane Ussher, from the Gender, Culture and Health Research Unit at the University of Western Sydney (UWS), in partnership with the Centre for Values, Ethics and the Law in Medicine (VELiM), Cancer Council New South Wales (CCNSW), National Breast Cancer Foundation (NBCF), Prostate Cancer Foundation of Australia (PCFA), Westmead Centre for Gynaecological Cancer (WCGC), and Sydney West Cancer Network Psycho-oncology Service (SWCNPS), is conducting a large interdisciplinary project into the impact of cancer on sexuality and intimacy, and the pathways and perspectives which lead to the difficulties faced by people with cancer and their partners. This project uses a combination of qualitative and quantitative methods to investigate the experience and construction of sexuality and intimacy post-cancer for people with cancer and their partners, across a broad range of cancer types and stages and compare these perspectives to those of health professionals. The aim of this research is to develop supportive interventions to improve communication and support around sexuality and intimacy in the care of patients with cancer.

NHMRC Grants

Project Title  Difficult Decisions: a Critical Analysis of Consent to High-Risk Medical Procedures
Researchers  Kerridge IH; Stewart CL; Jordens CJF; Carter SM
   This project forms the basis of Camilla Scanlan’s doctoral thesis
Grant Type  NHMRC Project Grant 457439
Duration  January 2007-December 2009
Funding  $309,750
Project Summary  This study examines whether the current legal and ethical construct of consent adequately addresses the complexities surrounding high-risk medical procedures. The exemplar of a high risk medical procedure was allogeneic stem cell transplant  (HSCT) in haematological malignancies. In-depth interviews were conducted with patients undergoing HSCT, their significant others, transplant physicians and other relevant members of the transplant team.

Analysis of the interviews suggest that (i) prognostic uncertainty is a major determinant of decision-making in high risk medical interventions (ii) consultations between patients and physicians tend to centre almost exclusively on medical matters to the exclusion of the patient’s social context (iii) patients’ decisions to undergo HSCT are often based more on ‘intuitive factors’ than on consideration of risk-benefit analysis (iv) there exists discrepancy of views both between and amongst the physicians and patients on the legal requirement for the use of a formal consent form, and its purpose and standing, (v) differing perceptions exist regarding requirements to ensure that consent is not only valid, but that the process of consent serves its primary purpose to protect patients.

In summary; Non-medical considerations are often excluded from medical discussions about HSCT; however they may play a major role in decisions to accept clinical advice.
Project Title  How do Lay People Understand the Risk of Developing Cancer? A Qualitative Study Using Grounded Theory Procedure.
Researchers Carter SM, Hooker CL, Thomas SL.
Grant Type NHMRC Project Grant 457387
Duration January 2007-December 2009
Funding $271,125
Project Summary This study asks what the risk of developing cancer means to Australians and in Australian society. There have been many studies of what it is like to be a cancer patient or to be screened for cancer. But there has been very little systematic study of the way in which healthy Australians make sense of cancer risk. This study developed a detailed model of what cancer risk means to Australians. Our data in some ways mirrored the findings of quantitative psychometric research into risk perception (for example, the influence of a perception of being in control on risk (which is then perceived as lower). However, our analytic work provided important contextualisations for how this occurs  - for example, that control is lived, manifested and experienced through certain bodily regimes and practices of self surveillance and self accounting. It also revealed new analytic categories, of which perhaps the most significant is our development of a model of how people employ balancing strategies to contextualise risks and make decisions about their health and behaviour. The project has accomplished two published papers, one accepted, two under review, a further two in complete draft, and at least two more planned.
Project Title  Deconstructing DTCA: Toward a Differentiated Policy Response to Direct-to-Consumer Advertising in Australia.
Researchers Kerridge I, Komesaroff P, Jordens C, Stewart C, Ankeny R, Carter SM.
Grant Type NHMRC Project Grant 457497
Duration January 2007-December 2008
Funding $185,563
Project Summary  Spending on prescription pharmaceuticals is the fastest growing component of the health care budget. While there are many reasons for this, recent attention has focused on the role of advertising of pharmaceuticals, and in particular, the impact of Direct-to-consumer advertising (DTCA). While DTCA is legal in the US and in New Zealand, DTCA is prohibited in Australia. Despite this, it is clear that a range of DTCA occurs in Australia and that the pharmaceutical industry continues to exert influence on consumers/patients by various means that blur the boundaries between drug promotion or marketing, information, and education. While legislation has been effective at limiting DTCA in Australia, it appears that the current response to DTCA (legislative prohibition of DTCA of prescription pharmaceuticals, and industry self-regulation) is insufficient to account for: the complexity and dynamism of commercial influence; the range of stakeholder attitudes and values regarding DTCA; the transcendence of national boundaries by information technology; linguistic confusion regarding categories of meaning, and changes in the relationships between health care providers, patients/consumers and the pharmaceutical industry. This research, which is the most comprehensive examination of DTCA in Australia, uses a range of methodsincluding literature reviews, in-depth interviews, focus groups and surveys of consumer groups. It is anticipated that the results of this study will enable the development of a range of health policies and strategies for dealing with different types and different aspects of DTCA and may facilitate the development of a range of resources to assist patients/consumers and health professionals respond better to commercial sources of influence. 

Other Competitive Grants

Project Title  A Qualitative Study of the Experience of Multiple Myeloma.
Researchers Jordens CFC, Kerridge I, Carter SM.
Grant Type Cancer Council of NSW
Duration January 2007-December 2009
Funding $268,876
Project Summary Due to a variety of new treatments, patients diagnosed with Multiple Myeloma (plasma cell cancer) can expect to live longer, but their experience of survival is overshadowed by the certainty that the disease will almost certainly prove fatal in the long run. This is a prospective, qualitative study of the experience of myeloma. It is based on 48 in-depth interviews with patients and a “lay carer” whom they nominate (a spouse or close relative who looks after them at home). The interviews were conducted in 2007-2009 by Moira Stephens, a PhD candidate at VELiM who has over 20 years’ experience in oncology nursing. Findings will be reported in Moira’s thesis and in a series of forthcoming papers. The project is funded by the NSW Cancer Council.
Project Title   Toward a Best Practice of Emerging Technologies: PGD and HLA Typing for Paediatric Transplantation.
Researchers  Ankeny R, Shaw P, Jordens CFC, O'Brien T, Carter SM, Kerridge I.
Grant Type Cancer Council of NSW
Duration January 2007-December 2009
Funding $258,956
Project Summary Preimplantation genetic diagnosis (PGD) involves using in vitro fertilisation (IVF) to create human embryos, and then testing them genetically in order to select one or more for implantation. Combined with HLA typing, PGD has enabled couples in Australia and overseas to have a child who can act as a donor (usually of umbilical cord blood or bone marrow) for an ill sibling who needs a transplant. These children are often called “saviour siblings”. Currently there is no clinical consensus about when to suggest this course of action, who should provide information or referrals, and what issues to discuss with parents. This is a qualitative study based on semi-structured interviews with parents and medical professionals. It aims to describe accurately what is currently taking place in practice, and what factors are weighed in decision-making. It also aims to ascertain information needs and attitudes of professionals and parents concerning the creation of “saviour siblings”. The project is funded by the NSW Cancer Council.

University of Sydney Grants

Project Title Ethics Perspective Wheel in Bioethics.
Researchers Macneill P, Kerridge I.
Grant Type University of Sydney eLearning Project
Duration 2008
Funding $5,000
Project Summary