IPOS Fear of Cancer Recurrence Special Interest Group (FORwards)

This special interest group brings together and represents the interests of IPOS members with a special interest in Fear of Cancer Recurrence.


Below is a list of the volunteers sitting on the committee:


Allan (Ben) Smith (Chair 2019 – 2021) – Australia

Dr Ben Smith is a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Centre for Oncology Education and Research Translation (CONCERT), Ingham Institute and UNSW Australia. Previously Ben jointly coordinated the ConquerFear study, which found that a novel therapist-delivered intervention (ConquerFear) was effective in reducing fear of cancer recurrence. Ben is leading the development of an online version of ConquerFear to make evidence-based treatment for fear of cancer recurrence more accessible. Ben is also helping advance international research on fear of cancer recurrence through his role as deputy chair of the International Psycho-Oncology Society Fear of Cancer Recurrence Special Interest Group.


Marije van der Lee
 (Deputy Chair 2019 – 2021) – Netherlands

Since 2007 Marije van der Lee works as Head of the scientific research department and is part of the management team of the Helen Dowling Institute and provides patient care as registered Health psychologist. In this period her department published 97 international peer-reviewed articles. She built her own research line in clinical psycho-oncology that focuses on the effect of (e-) interventions and understanding how interventions work. She developed a national therapy evaluation system and two online therapy programs which were successfully implemented. She aims at personalizing clinical psycho-oncology interventions in the next five years and making them available for all cancer Dutch patients at risk for developing complex mental health disorders. In addition to educating healthcare workers worldwide in basic cognitive behavioral therapy for specific psycho-oncology problems and recognizing cancer patients at risk.

Lauren Healthcote (Secretary 2019 – 2021) – United States

Dr. Heathcote is a senior postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Anesthesiology, Perioperative, and Pain Medicine at Stanford University School of Medicine in the USA. She previously received her PhD in Experimental Psychology from the University of Oxford, UK, in 2016. Her research bridges experimental health psychology and medical science with the aim of developing novel methods for understanding and harnessing mind-body mechanisms in child health. She has developed experimental tasks and self-report measures, and has applied psychophysiological and brain imaging methods, to define cognitive-affective mechanisms of pain and symptom perception in pediatric chronic illness (e.g., chronic pain, cancer). Dr. Heathcote has published her work widely, including 42 scientific papers (17 first author) in leading peer-reviewed journals such as The Lancet Oncology, PAIN, Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews, the Journal of Pediatric Psychology, Psycho-Oncology, and Cochrane Reviews. She has given 13 invited and symposia talks and presented 19 posters at leading scientific conferences. To support her research, she has secured over $530,000 USD in project and training grants as a principal investigator. This includes a prestigious Research Training Fellowship (£140,538 GBP) with Action Medical Research UK for her PhD work, two Project Grants from the American Psychological Foundation ($18,510 USD) and the Lucile Packard Foundation Auxiliaries Endowment Fund ($80,000 USD) to build her independent postdoctoral research line, and a two-year Postdoctoral Support Grant ($150,000 USD) from the Stanford Maternal and Child Health Research Institute. Her work spans knowledge generation (e.g., original studies), knowledge synthesis (e.g., systematic review), and knowledge translation (e.g., public outreach), with the ultimate goal of improving child health.

Brittany Mutsaers (Early Career Representative 2017 – 2021) – Canada

Brittany Mutsaers is a Ph.D. student in the Clinical Psychology program at the University of Ottawa. She is currently working on research related to characterizing the differences between clinical and non-clinical levels of fear of cancer recurrence. Her dissertation focuses on the implementation of survivorship care plans for use as a transition tool for cancer survivors receiving follow-up care in community settings. 

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