Dr Sian Smith currently holds the title of Honorary Research Fellow at the Prince of Wales Clinical School, UNSW, where she previously held an NHMRC Early Career Research Fellowship (2012-2016) and was Deputy Director of the Psychosocial Research Group. In 2016, she permanently relocated back to the UK, but continues her Australian and international research collaborations and student supervision.
Dr Smith’s research interests centre around health literacy, patient communication and shared health-decision making, with a particular focus on empowering vulnerable and socially disadvantaged populations to participate in informed decisions about their health. Over the past 10 years, she has been involved in the development and evaluation of a range of shared decision-making interventions (e.g. decision aid booklets, question prompt lists, adult health literacy programs) for low health literacy populations in both clinical and community settings, including bowel and breast cancer screening, radiation oncology, cancer genetics, cancer and reproductive health, and prenatal genetic testing.
As part of her PhD research she developed the first decision aid relating to bowel cancer screening, for adults with low education and literacy, which increased informed choice in bowel cancer screening (BMJ 2010). Current projects include: the development of a decision aid to help couples to make informed choices about screening for Down syndrome and other chromosomal conditions during pregnancy; an online fertility-related decision aid for young women with early breast cancer with low health literacy; and a decision aid to help individuals, who have been notified of clinically significant genetic research results, to decide whether to attend genetic counselling at a family cancer centre. Dr Smith has also developed and evaluated a psycho-educational ‘Talking Book’ resource (a booklet with audio-recording) to help patients and their families feel better prepared for radiation therapy treatment.
Her work has been recognised through awards such as the UNSW Medicine Dean's Rising Star Award for contributions to research (2012), and the Translational Cancer Research Network’s Cancer Challenge of the Year Award (2014).
She is the second lead investigator on a large ARC Grant-funded study evaluating the impact of a novel health literacy training intervention delivered within literacy and numeracy programs at TAFE colleges in NSW. She is also co-academic lead of the International Health Literacy Network comprising >200 members worldwide, linking Universities of Auckland, Bristol, Cape Town, Hong Kong, Leeds, Sheffield, Southampton, Sydney, and Washington.http://www.wun.ac.uk/wun/research/view/health-literacy-network.
Broad Research Areas: Health literacy, Doctor-patient communication, Decision-making, Health inequalities, Psychology, Cancer screening, Prenatal screening, Oncology, Radiotherapy, Preventive Medicine
Qualifications: BSc Psych (Hons), PhD (University of Sydney)