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Lesley Fallowfield: Psycho-oncology supremo

BMJ 2016; 352 doi: (Published 11 February 2016) Cite this as: BMJ 2016;352:i592


Lesley Fallowfield has pioneered a transformation in the way doctors communicate with patients, especially those with cancer. Combining her nursing training with insights from experimental psychology, she showed that poor communication between doctor and patient can cause serious harms, avoidable by better training. Resisted by oncologists at first, her insights have gained credibility through research programmes, which she leads as the director of SHORE-C (Sussex Health Outcomes Research and Education in Cancer) at the University of Sussex. Tools she developed for assessing quality of life in cancer trials are now used worldwide. She became a dame in the 2016 New Year Honours, for services to psycho-oncology.

What was your earliest ambition?

I’ve always loved literature and drama, and I probably aspired to be a writer or actor. An essay written when I was 11, however, shows that I wished to be a …

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