Dr Kerrie Clover PhD MPsychClin, MAPS Research Manager, Clinical Psychologist
Dr Clover’s research field, psycho-oncology, brings the study of psychology to cancer care. Having qualifications in both research and clinical psychology, Kerrie is able to combine scientific rigour with clinical understanding of people’s concerns and the way health systems operate. Kerrie’s research is practical and aimed at making a difference to peoples’ experiences, particularly for people facing intense emotional challenges. Kerrie has a particular interest in helping people with significant anxiety manage their treatment.
Kerrie’s research aims to help people manage the impact of cancer and cancer treatments.
Anxiety and depression during cancer
It important to recognise that fear and sadness are normal responses to the news of a cancer diagnosis. However, we can work to ensure that people feel as supported as possible.
One example of a project which changed both care and patient outcomes was large-scale routine screening for pain and distress among oncology out-patients. The program reached over 13,000 oncology patients on more than 25,000 occasions.
Levels of pain and distress were more than halved: from 33% and 28% of patients scoring “over threshold” at baseline, to 16% and 10% of patients, respectively, after four years of the program. The measures developed for the project continue to be used by cancer care coordinators.
Evaluating measures of anxiety and depression for people with cancer
While many measures of anxiety and depression are available, not all are suitable for use in oncology. Many of the symptoms of depression and anxiety overlap with the effects of cancer treatment, such as fatigue, trouble sleeping and reduced appetite. Dr Clover’s work has comprehensively evaluated a range of new and established measures, comparing them with the gold-standard of an interview with a psychologist.
Reducing anxiety during medical procedures
Anxiety during radiotherapy for head and neck cancer
Radiotherapy for head and neck cancer requires the use of a mask to immobilise the person’s head during treatment. This can be extremely anxiety provoking. This line of research identified screening questions, to identify people at particular risk of more intense distress. These questions are routinely asked during pre-treatment clinics.
Providing interventions to actively help people reduce anxiety during procedures is an important area of study. Working with a PhD Student and other colleagues, we’re developing an intervention to help anxious patients regulate their breathing during the radiotherapy procedure, to help them manage their feelings and get through treatment. Key features of the intervention are that it is simple to use and easily integrated into a busy clinical environment.
Dr Clover is also beginning to explore the impact of previous trauma, such as family or sexual violence, on people’s experiences of cancer treatment and ways to make cancer care more trauma-informed; along with beginning to investigate the need for practice tools for psychologists working with people with brain cancers
Psycho-oncology, research and clinical psychology
Publications / Achievements
More information about Dr Clover’s academic achievements and publications can be found here: