BA (Hons), Dip HE (Nursing), RN, PhD

Dr Heather Shepherd is a health communication researcher with qualifications in health and language studies, a clinical background in nursing and a doctorate in Psychological Medicine. Heather’s research focuses on shared decision-making, doctor/patient communication, evidence-based medicine, health professionals’ perspectives and development and evaluation of tools to support health literacy, empowerment and health professional experience. Her postdoctoral fellowship and a subsequent Principal Investigator role on an international grant developed and tested the AskShareKnow demonstrating the effectiveness of the intervention to improve the quality of information and the engagement of patients. Building from this Dr Shepherd’s feasibility study at Family Planning NSW demonstrated the acceptability and uptake of the consumer led intervention in routine clinical care. The AskShareKnow intervention has gone on to be implemented in the UK, and is currently being used in projects in Germany, the Netherlands, USA and in further work in different settings in Australia. Dr Shepherd has participated in invited symposiums on shared decision-making and patient-targeted communication interventions at the International Communication in Healthcare conference and importantly has co-authored the International Patient Decision Aid Standards (IPDAS) guidelines for provision of information which outlined the international standards for the development of decision aids. Dr Shepherd was the Deputy Director and co-founder of the Centre for Medical Psychology and Evidence-based Decision Making (CeMPED), a cross-faculty centre established within the University of Sydney in 2008 and remains actively engaged through her current roles at the University of Sydne. She is a member of the International Health Literacy Research Network, European Association for Communication in Healthcare. Dr Shepherd has 39 publications in peer reviewed journals with 663 citations and has been awarded approximately $3M in chief investigator research grant funding, from NHMRC, ARC, Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI). Her current role as Research Fellow and Program Manager of a Translational Program Grant funded by the Cancer Institute NSW and led by the Psych-oncology Co-operative Research Group ( PoCoG) brings together her expertise in managing relationships between stakeholders with organisational, institutional, professional and clinical interests, as well as addressing the important gap between research and practice.