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Dr Allison Boyes

Dr Allison Boyes

Brief Profile

Dr Allison Boyes is Senior Research Academic at the University of Newcastle, and the inaugural Program Leader of the Hunter Medical Research Institute's Equity in Health and Wellbeing Research Program.

Dr Boyes has a background in psychology, public health and behavioural medicine. After being awarded her PhD in 2013, Dr Boyes held concurrent Early Career Research Fellowships from the National Health & Medical Research Council (2014-2020) and Cancer Institute NSW (2014-2018) focused on cancer survivorship. Her current research interests focus on generating new knowledge and solutions to improve the wellbeing of individuals affected by chronic diseases, with an emphasis on cancer, dementia, ageing and mental health conditions. Prior to her academic career, Dr Boyes held policy and evaluation roles in government and non-government sectors.

Dr Boyes’ research expertise is in developing and testing robust measures of patient outcomes; describing patients' experiences of care; and development, implementation and evaluation of interventions to improve patient wellbeing. Dr Boyes developed a suite of tools to measure cancer patients’ unmet needs including the widely adopted 34-item Supportive Care Needs Survey (SCNS-SF34). This work was recently extended to the field of dementia where Dr Boyes collaborated on the development and validation of needs assessment tools for people with dementia and their caregivers.

Dr Boyes has made a significant contribution to advancing knowledge of the psychosocial impact of cancer survivorship at the population level through some of the largest observational studies conducted in Australia to date. This leading program of research has provided high quality evidence for guiding health care planning and research directions in the rapidly growing field of cancer survivorship. Dr Boyes led one of the first trials testing the effectiveness of computerised distress screening and referral in the clinical setting for addressing cancer patients’ psychological morbidity. This work served as the foundation for a subsequent trial testing a model of distress screening, advice and referral in a community-based helpline. Dr Boyes currently leads a NHMRC funded randomised controlled trial of an online peer support intervention for reducing depression and loneliness among seniors living in regional and rural Australia. 

Research interests 

  • Developing tools to accurately measure patient's and caregiver's health-related outcomes
  • Identifying the extent to which patients and caregivers receive quality care, and the subgroups of patients at risk of adverse outcomes 
  • Determining how to best support people to cope better with chronic conditions and enhance their wellbeing

 

Why did you get into research?

A combination of reasons led me to research initially in the area of cancer. Like many people, my life has been profoundly impacted by cancer.

Additionally, early in my working life, I had the privilege of working at the former National Breast Cancer Centre (now Cancer Australia) with inspiring scientists, cancer clinicians, cancer advocates and community-based cancer organisations dedicated to improving breast cancer control. I saw first-hand how research can benficially influence health policy, practice and patient outcomes. I am energised by being part of multidisciplinary teams undertaking applied research that has the potential to make people's lives better.

 

What would be the ultimate goal for your research?

I want all people to receive person-centred care, where everyone has access to the best care and support that is right for them, when and where they need it. 

 

Future Focus

The importance of social connections to health and wellbeing has been highlighted by the COVID pandemic. I am building a program of collaborative and co-designed research focused on describing, preventing and addressing loneliness among vulnerable populations.

 

Specialised/Technical Skills

  • Development of patient reported outcome measures
  • Assessment of psychosocial wellbeing and quality of care
  • Development, implementation and evaluation of patient support interventions (randomised trials, program evaluations)

 

Affiliations

  • Health Behaviour Research Collaborative
  • Psycho-oncology Co-operative Research Group (PoCoG)
  • Peers for Progress