Behavioural Sciences Unit

The Behavioural Sciences Unit (BSU) conducts research studies covering all psycho-social and behavioural aspects of childhood cancer. We are a multidisciplinary team, with representation from:

  • Psychology
  • Dietetics
  • Paediatric oncology/haematology
  • Social work
  • Nursing
  • Bereavement counselling
  • Behavioural sciences
  • Exercise physiology

Our aims are to improve the lives of childhood cancer patients, survivors and their families, to conduct world-class research that can quickly and effectively be translated into practice, to participate in clinical trials, to maintain a strong track record of publications and grant funding as well as to provide research support to the Kids Cancer Centre and more broadly to the paediatric research community. Find us at:

All of our projects value involvement from consumer representatives. If you are, or you know of any young people, or families affected by childhood or adolescent cancer and would like to help in the type of studies we run and how we run them, please get in contact with one of the team leaders, which are listed together with our projects below.

Current projects

Our research is divided into five themes: Ethics & Genetics, Mental Health, Health Behaviours, Cognition & Education and Nutrition.

> Ethics & Genetics

Team leader: Janine Vetsch


PRISM-Impact aims to assess families’ and health care professionals’ hopes, expectations, and concerns participating in a personalised medicine trial for high risk childhood cancers. Contact: Janine Vetsch at


Delta is an online, and hard copy booklet, decision aid to support parents who have a child with cancer, and adolescents with cancer, deciding whether to enrol in a clinical trial. Contact: Eden Robertson at


This study aims to understand the experiences and needs of parents following the death of a child from cancer, with findings informing the development of the By My Side resources to support bereaved parents. Contact: Kate Hetherington at


SibStars aims to understand the experience of siblings of children with a chronic illness (including cancer), and provide siblings with resources to address their specific information and support needs. Contact: Lauren Kelada at 

> Mental Health

Team leader: Ursula Sansom-Daly

Recapture Life

This study aims to evaluate a new program to support young people in the first years after finishing cancer treatment. Contact: Kate Hetherington at

Difficult Discussions

This study aims to evaluate and adapt a US developed Advanced Care Planning tool (Voicing My CHOICESTM) to help young Australian people with cancer voice their choices about how they want to be comforted, supported, treated, and remembered. Contact: Holly Evans at

> Health Behaviours

Team leader: Joanna Fardell


This program aims to engage survivors who are not receiving any cancer-related follow-up care and to educate and empower them to manage their own survivorship care. Contact: Christina Signorelli at

> Cognition & Education

Ready Steady School

This study aims to develop and evaluate an online national school re-entry program for child and adolescent cancer patients and survivors, their families and teachers. Contact: Mary Burns at


Reconnect aims to discover what factors might predict social difficulties after childhood cancer, as well as identify what specific social skills may be impacted by a diagnosis of childhood cancer. This study is also looking at the way young people with cancer stay in touch with their peers. Contact: Clarissa Schilstra

> Nutrition

Team leader: Jennifer Cohen


Reboot is a new online program to help promote and support healthy lifestyle habits in children and young people after cancer treatment. Contact: Jenifer Cohen at