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PhD Success for Mbathio Dieng

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News Articles
06 September 2015

Sydney Catalyst member Mbathio Dieng has spent the past few years working on her passion: research in changing practice and policy in cancer survivorship for people affected by melanoma.



Utilising Sydney Catalyst's Top-Up Scholarship Scheme, Mbathio's recently submitted PhD, entitled, "A randomised controlled trial of a psycho-educational intervention for melanoma survivors at high risk of developing new primary disease", was highly praised by examiners and passed with no requirement for correction or amendments. This level of perfection is a rare occurrence and something to be proud of. Congratulations Mbathio!

Mbathio's research led to the development of a psycho-educational booklet, "Melanoma: Questions and Answers" and a manual for three psychologist support sessions. The booklet addresses the information and supportive care needs of people with melanoma at high risk of developing another melanoma  and was  evaluated using gold-standard methodology in the form of a randomised controlled trial.  Results found that the booklet, in conjunction with one-to-one telephone psychological support sessions from a trained psychologist, was effective strategy for improving health outcomes that have direct implications for quality of life and care

We caught up with Mbathio to congratulate her on her PhD success and to ask her about what's next for her and her research:


SC: How did you feel going through your PhD and how do you feel now having achieved a major piece of work that has a real impact in terms of outcomes/improving care?

MD: The whole experience has been an entirely positive one. I experienced first-hand what it takes to conduct a trial from beginning to end and am excited about the implementation and translation opportunities the research has opened up to benefit patients. I had very good support from supervisors, family and of course Sydney Catalyst via the Top Up award which was very helpful.

SC: What are the next steps for you?

MD: I am continuing to work with Rachel Morton, Health Economics Director of the NHMRC CTC to collect and analyse data that will seek to address the cost-effectiveness component of the intervention. We hope to have this completed by the end of this year.

SC: What advice/tips would you give fellow members either thinking about starting a PhD or yet to complete their own PhD?

MD: For those thinking about starting a PhD, choose supervisors with diverse but complementary perspectives, approaches and backgrounds. The balance of these perspectives and approaches makes for a robust result and a fuller richer experience.


For those yet to complete their PhD, it can be tempting to follow good ideas that divert your attention and focus. To stay on course, keep at the forefront of your mind your goal, your direction and what is important to you.

Sydney Catalyst, through our Top Up Scholarship scheme, are proud to have been able to support Mbathio's research. Our congratulations go out to Mbathio, her supervisors and support team, Associate Professor Anne Cust from the Sydney School of Public Health at the University of Sydney; Associate Professor Rachel Morton from the NHMRC CTC; Associate Professor Nadine Kasparian from the Medical Psychology faculty at UNSW and Professor Graham Mann from Westmead Institute for Medical Research, for both the outstanding achievement and the contribution to research that will positively change outcomes for people affected by cancer.

For more information about the study, please see links to a number of publications related to this research below:

  • The Melanoma care study: protocol of a randomised controlled trial of a psycho-educational intervention for melanoma survivors at high risk of developing new primary disease
  • Melanoma: Questions and Answers." Development and evaluation of a psycho-educational resource for people with a history of melanoma
  • Economic evaluations of psychosocial interventions in cancer: a systematic review
  • Improving subjective perception of personal cancer risk: systematic review and meta-analysis of educational interventions for people with cancer or at high risk of cancer
  • Psychometric properties of the Fear of Cancer Recurrence Inventory: an item response theory approach
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