Current Research Projects

  • Cancer patients’ experience and outcomes related to complementary health choices: A feasibility study phase two.


Anne Williams, Research Consultant, Centre for Nursing Research, Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital and Professor of Health Research, School of Health Professions, Murdoch University.

Caroline Bulsara, Associate Professor, School of Nursing and Midwifery, The University of Notre Dame.

David Joske, Director of Medical Specialties, Clinical Professor, Department of Haematology and SolarisCare Foundation, Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital and The University of Western Australia.

Anna Petterson, Manager of Research and Education, SolarisCare Foundation, Medical Arts Psychotherapist and Adjunct Research Fellow, Centre for Nursing, Midwifery and Health Services Research, School of Nursing and Midwifery, Edith Cowan University.

Norman Stomski, Senior Research Officer, School of Health Professions, Murdoch University.

Helen Myers, Senior Research Assistant, Centre for Nursing, Midwifery and Health Services Research, School of Nursing and Midwifery, Edith Cowan University.

Kellie Bennett, Associate Professor, School of Psychiatry and Clinical Neurosciences, The University of Western Australia.

Michael Phillips, Biostatistician, Royal Perth Hospital and Harry Perkins Institute of Medical Research, The University of Western Australia.

Bonnie Furzer, Centre Manager/Lecturer-Exercise Physiologist, Exercise and Performance Centre, School of Sport Science, Exercise and Health, The University of Western Australia.

Lisa Miller, Consultant Liaison Psychiatrist, WA Psycho-Oncology Service, Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital and The University of Western Australia.

Funding: Murdoch University, Professor Health Research Seeding Grant, $67,299.



For Phase one: The SolarisCare Foundation has developed a program of care for cancer patients at Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital (SCGH) offering psychosocial cancer care and complementary therapies in a manner that is currently unique to Western Australia (WA), and freely available to patients with cancer who choose to participate. The program is offered in addition to standard medical care. Patients are able to choose cost-free, individual or group, complementary therapy sessions provided by volunteer accredited therapists, and / or use the facilities provided in the centre. The SolarisCare program has been running for the past 14 years at SCGH and no formal evaluation has yet been attempted. A feasibility study was initiated to examine patients’ outcomes related to participation in the SolarisCare program versus usual care.

For Phase two: Due to low recruitment numbers in the initial study, the protocol was amended to broaden the scope of participant eligibility criteria by opening the investigation to patients with any cancer diagnosis, not restricted to specific types or timeframe from diagnosis, and by including all complementary therapies, not just those offered by SolarisCare.


The aim is to determine the feasibility of conducting a longitudinal quantitative study to establish whether there are clear measurable outcomes for cancer patients who choose to use, or not use, complementary therapies alongside conventional treatment. Specific objectives are to:

  • Assess the feasibility and effectiveness of a strategy to recruit patients who choose to use, or not use complementary health therapies or interventions alongside their standard prescribed cancer treatment.
  • Determine the acceptability and completion of research instruments.
  • Conduct preliminary data analysis to assess the quality of data for future multi-site investigations.


A non-equivalent pre-test / post-test control group design is being used to study two groups of participants: those who choose to use one or more complementary health therapies alongside standard cancer treatment, and those who choose not to. Therefore a total of 60 adults with a cancer diagnosis are being enrolled and will self-select their choice of complementary health treatments rather than being randomly assigned. Participants are being followed for a period of six months to capture three sets of outcome measurements related to health and well-being: Time 1 is being measured at baseline (with initial consent to participate), Time 2 at three months, and Time 3 at six months. To be eligible for Phase one, participants required a diagnosis of breast, prostate or haematological cancer within four weeks of recruitment, in Phase two there are no restrictions for a cancer diagnosis or diagnostic timeframe.


  • SCGH Clinical Trial, HREC No: 2012-96 Providing Reflexology In A Chemotherapy Centre: Is It Safe? The Development of Safe Practice Guidelines For The Use Of Reflexology In An Outpatient Chemotherapy Clinic

Investigators: Dr Anna Petterson, Prof Anne Williams, Dr David Joske, Ms Kylie McCullough


  • SCGH Clinical Trial, HREC No: 2013-093 Stress Management/Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) For Cancer: A Trial Of MBCT Vs. Traditional Relaxation For Reducing And Preventing Further Episodes Of Psychological Distress In Individuals Affected By Cancer

Investigators: Dr Anna Petterson, Assoc Prof Kellie Bennett, Dr Toni Musiello, Dr Suzie Brans, Ms Lani Valentine


  • Developing A Wellbeing Educational Program For Cancer Nurses.

Investigators: Prof A Williams, Dr N Williams, Dr S Slatyer, Prof L Monterosso, Dr A Petterson, Prof P Morrison, Dr A Ebert, Prof D Twigg, Dr A Towell, Ms K Endacott.


  • Men In The Kitchen (MIKE) Evaluating The Effectiveness Of An Intervention (MIKE) For Recently Bereaved Men.

Investigators: Dr Anna Petterson, Dr Ruth McConigley, Prof Anne Williams, Dr Lisa Miller, Dr David Joske


  • Promoting The Health & Wellbeing Of Patients With Cancer At Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital: An Evaluation Of The Emotional/Physical Effects And Cost Effectiveness Of The SolarisCare Program.

Investigators: Prof Anne Williams, Dr Anna Petterson, Dr David Joske

  • Impact Of Wellness Assessment And Activity ‘Prescription’ On Cancer Patient’s Daily Physical Activity And Health Related Quality Of Life.

Investigators: Dr Bonnie Furzer, Dr Anna Petterson, Dr David Joske, Dr Karen Wallman


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