06:05am Thursday 17 August 2017

Improving outcomes for cancer patients

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The psycho-oncology research fellow has just taken up a position at the Griffith Health Institute following a two year period working at the National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI) in the United States.

In conjunction with Cancer Council Queensland, Dr Morris is currently developing a research program to develop studies aimed at cancer prevention and supportive care for those affected by a diagnosis.

“In order to fully understand the impact of chronic diseases and the best ways we
can prevent diseases like cancer, we need to develop research that incorporates
the individual, their family, the community and society,” said Dr Morris.

In addition to this research, Dr Morris is looking to apply for research grants and
other funding to continue her work on patients’ positive life changes after cancer
and their subsequent post-traumatic growth.

“Post-traumatic growth is perceiving positive life change after struggling with a
life-changing event, such as a diagnosis of cancer.

“We are really only just beginning to understand why some people experience post-traumatic growth after cancer. We need further research looking at the factors that promote personal growth so that we can understand the impact on the
patient and others close to them.”

Dr Morris will also be supervising a research student who is in her honours year of
a Bachelor of Psychology at Griffith.

This student is examining the post-traumatic growth reported by prostate cancer
survivors.

“Using survey data, my student will be testing a theoretical model of post-traumatic growth. We will look at how prostate cancer survivors think and the emotions which may have changed since their diagnosis.”

Dr Morris said she is very excited to be at Griffith and glad to be back in Australia.

“I had an incredible learning experience at NHGRI where I was exposed to some
amazing cutting-edge research. It was a privilege to work in the same research
institute that undertook the Human Genome Project.

“Now I am hoping to incorporate what I learnt at NHGRI into my work here at Griffith and with Cancer Council Queensland.

“Identifying people at risk for hereditary diseases such as colorectal and breast
cancer is essential so that we can educate families about their risk, encourage
family communication and promote healthy behaviours like cancer screening.”


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