Professor Susan Sawyer
Professor Susan Sawyer holds the chair of adolescent health at The University of Melbourne and is director of the RCH Centre for Adolescent Health. Professor Sawyer trained as a respiratory paediatrician where she developed a major interest in models of care for complex adolescents such as those with cystic fibrosis, especially around aspects of sexual and reproductive health. Her current practice is in the field of Adolescent Medicine, a field that she has helped to develop in Australia and increasingly internationally. Her current interests revolve around health services for adolescents, including the development and evaluation of innovative models of clinical service for adolescents in both primary care and specialist settings.
Professor Sawyer is increasingly involved in global adolescent health. She has been a consultant to WHO, UNICEF, UNFPA and the World Bank. She has co-led two recent series on Adolescent Health for the Lancet, and is a commissioner on the Lancet’s ‘Commission on Adolescent Health and Well-being’, which brings together some of the world’s leading universities including the University of Melbourne, Columbia University, University College London, the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and the University Washington.
- Director, Centre for Adolescent Health, Royal Children’s Hospital
- Chair of Adolescent Health, Department of Paediatrics, The University of Melbourne
- Associate Dean International, Faculty of Medicine, Dentistry and Health Sciences
2014: NPS MedicineWise Award for Excellence in e-Health Resources
2013: Victorian Women’s Honour Roll, Victorian Government
2011: Premier’s Health Award (Outstanding Achievement in Mental Health), RCH Specialist Eating Disorder program
2010: Premier’s Excellence Awards (Victorian Public Healthcare Awards). Royal Children’s Hospital Chronic Illness Peer Support (ChIPS) program
2007: International Award, Society for Adolescent Health and Medicine (United States). Personal profile, The Lancet
2005: Constance Stone Award, Victorian Medical Women’s Society
Professor Sawyer and her group have undertaken research that includes:
- Clinical trials have included interventions to improve outcomes from eating disorders (Family Based Treatment), obesity (bariatric surgery, e-health community based interventions), asthma (adherence reminders, training general practitioners) and interventions to improve the quality of primary care delivered to adolescents.
- Descriptive and evaluation studies have described new clinical phenomena (such as the dramatic increase in adolescents with what is now known as atypical anorexia nervosa) and new interventions (such as more aggressive approaches to refeeding malnourished patients with anorexia nervosa, the first clinical trial of bariatric surgery in obese adolescents, and testing the effect of clinical reminders to improve adherence in patients with asthma).
- Evaluation of innovative clinical services for adolescents with health conditions that sit at the interface of medicine and mental health (eg somatic symptom disorder, eating disorders, gender dysphoria)
- Studies of adolescent friendly practices include studies of transition to adult health care, cluster randomised trials of the effectiveness of promoting youth friendly primary healthcare, and studies that measure the adolescent friendliness of specialist services.
Eating disorder research
This includes a large randomised controlled trial that is testing two different forms of Family Based Treatment for adolescents with eating disorders and various descriptive studies, including those that describe the growing prevalence of atypical anorexia nervosa.
Youth Friendly Cancer Care
This is a national study funded by Cancer Australia and Redkite that involves qualitative and quantitative data from young people with cancer and their parents with the goal of informing new clinical models of care
Quality care for adolescents
This includes the Adolescent Friendly Children’s Hospital research program, which has focussed on developing and validating indicators and survey tools that can be used to assess the ‘Adolescent Friendliness’ of hospitals; randomised controlled trials within primary care of more youth friendly practices; randomised controlled trials of adherence reminders for adolescents and adults with asthma; and qualitative studies addressing parent perspectives of adolescent friendly health care.
We are developing a new research program that will be embedded within the new RCH gender dysphoria service, which has seen a dramatic upswing in the number of referrals over the past 5 years.
Frayman K, Sawyer SM. Sexual and Reproductive Health in Cystic Fibrosis: A Lifecourse Perspective. Lancet Respiratory Medicine 2015;3(1):70-86.
Sawyer SM, Ambresin AE, Bennett KE, Patton GC. A measurement framework for quality healthcare for adolescents in hospitals. Journal of Adolescent Health 2014;55(4):484-90
Foster JM, Usherwood T, Smith L, Sawyer SM, Xuan Wei, Rand CS, Reddel HK. Inhaler reminders improve adherence with controller treatment in primary care asthma patients. Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology 2014;134:1260-8.
Ambresin AE, Bennett K, Patton GC, Sanci LA, Sawyer SM. Assessment of youth-friendly health care: a systematic review of indicators drawn from young people's perspectives. Journal of Adolescent Health 2013;52(6):670-81.
Hughes EK, Le Grange D, Court A, Yeo MSM, Campbell S, Allen A, Crosby RD, Loeb KL, Sawyer SM. Parent-focused treatment for adolescent anorexia nervosa: a study protocol of a randomised controlled trial. BMC Psychiatry 2014;14:105.
Hughes E, Le Grange D, Court A, Yeo M, Campbell S, Whitelaw M, Aitkins L, Sawyer SM. Implementation of Family-Based Treatment for adolescents with anorexia nervosa. Journal of Pediatric Health Care 2014;28:322-330
Sawyer SM, Afifi RA, Bearinger LH, Blakemore SJ, Dick B, Ezay A, Patton GC. Adolescence: a foundation for future health. The Lancet 2012;379 (9826):1630-1640.
O’Brien P, Sawyer SM, Laurie C, Veit FCM, Brown W, Skinner S, Paul E, Bailey M, McGrice M, Anderson M, Dixon J. Severe obesity in adolescents: a randomized trial comparing laparoscopic adjustable gastric banding with a medical weight loss program. JAMA 2010; 303:519-526.
Patton GC, Coffey C, Sawyer SM, Viner RM, Haller D, Bose K, Vos T, Fergussan J, Mathers CD. Global patterns of mortality in young people: a systematic analysis of population health data. Lancet 2009;374:881-92.
Duncan R, Drew S, Hodgson J, Sawyer SM. Is My Mum Going to Hear This? Methodological and Ethical Challenges in Qualitative Research with Young People. Social Science and Medicine 2009;69:1691-1699.
- Australian Rotary Health
- Baker Foundation
- Cancer Australia