Member Focus

Dr Alison Pearce

• Position:Chancellor's Postdoctoral Research Fellow

• Organisation: Centre for Health Economics Research and Evaluation
• Qualifications: B. App Sci (Occupational Therapy); MPH; PhD, from University of Technology Sydney, entitled “Investigating chemotherapy adverse events: incidence, costs and consequences”
• Research Interests:The health economics of cancer, using methods such as economic modelling, estimating productivity loss and discrete choice experiments.

How did you get started in HSR? I started working in cancer clinical trials to learn how to do research as an occupational therapist (OT). I always planned to go back to clinical work, but when I got my first taste of HSR I was hooked.

What was the first project you worked on and where? Between finishing my OT degree and starting work I did a research project looking at rates of successful return to driving following stroke at the Royal Rehabilitation Centre Sydney. At the time I was desperate to commence clinical work, but looking back that project really ignited my interest in research.

What are some of the key projects you are currently working on? I’m expanding my work on cancer-related productivity loss to look at lost productivity in emerging economies. It is fascinating to explore the impact of different cancer patterns, demographics and economics on the measurement of productivity, and to think about how the results can be interpreted and used. The other project I’m doing is a discrete choice experiment of patient preferences for follow-up care after completing cancer treatment. The design phase has been difficult but very intriguing and I’m really looking forward to exploring DCE methods more in the future.

Career highlights so far? Working overseas has been a wonderful experience. In particular, going to the WHO International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) on a short term fellowship funded through the EU COST Action ‘Cancer and Work Network’ (CANWON) was fantastic.

What’s next for you in your career? What are you looking forward to? I have just been awarded a UTS Chancellor’s Post-doctoral Fellowship, which I’ll start in May 2016. I’m delighted to be returning to the Centre for Health Economics Research and Evaluation (CHERE), where I did my PhD and I’m really looking forward to consolidating and extending my work using health economic techniques in the field of cancer.

What was your motivation for becoming involved with the HSRAANZ? I attended the HSRAANZ meetings as a PhD student at CHERE and was inspired by the passion and motivation of the members I met. The Emerging Researcher group made me feel that HSRAANZ was not just an organization for experts, but open and relevant to everyone.

What do you see as the most important goal or greatest challenge for the Association over the next few years? Continuing to advocate for the importance of HSR, and managing the growth of the Association as HSR becomes more recognized.

What do you think is the best way of having an influence on policy? Being able to communicate research findings in a way that is meaningful and helpful – you can’t influence anyone with your research if they can’t understand it.

What advice would you give to someone just starting out in the HSR? Surround yourself with great people who will mentor and support you – as a multidisciplinary field, HSR isn’t something you can do on your own. And find something you really enjoy – then it never feels like work.

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