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Wolfson Institute of Population Health

Professor Suzanne Scott


Professor of Health Psychology & Early Cancer Diagnosis



I am a Health Psychologist and was appointed as Professor of Health Psychology & Early Cancer Diagnosis in the Centre for Cancer Screening, Prevention and Early Diagnosis at the Wolfson Institute of Population Health in April 2022.

I am also Visiting Professor of Health Psychology at King’s College London where I previously worked (2006-2022), researching approaches to encourage early diagnosis of cancer and co-ordinating communication skills training for undergraduate dental students. My training was at University College London (MSc Health Psychology) and King’s College London (PhD in Psychology Applied to Medicine & Dentistry).

I am the behavioural science lead on several international collaborations including an NIHR Global Health Group on timely diagnosis of breast, cervical and colorectal cancer in Sub-Saharan Africa, the CanTest collaborative focusing on cancer diagnostic testing in primary care and the CanDetect programme on detection of upper gastrointestinal cancer through the development of a multi-cancer early detection platform.


Research Interests:

My expertise is in the application of psychology to early diagnosis of cancer. The main focus of my research is on symptom perception and help-seeking behaviour and involves using psychological theory to understand why people wait before consulting healthcare professionals and use this to design and evaluate interventions to encourage appropriate and timely healthcare use for symptoms of cancer.

My work largely focuses on finding opportunities in existing systems to raise cancer awareness and concentrates on individual (one-to-one) interventions rather than mass-media campaigns. For instance, interventions to raise awareness and encourage early presentation of cancer symptoms during visits to the dentist or GP, or adding interventions at the end of the suspected-cancer referral system, when cancer is not found at that time.

I use multi-methods in my research including large community surveys, qualitative approaches including in-depth interviews, focus-groups, and secondary analysis of qualitative data; questionnaire development and analysis of large, routinely collected datasets.


Please follow through to see a full list of Suzanne's publications.

Scott S.E, Oakley R., Møller H., Warburton F. (2020). Tracking cancer occurrence in the 5 years after referral for suspected head and neck cancer. Oral Oncology 109:104955.

Jones D., Neal R.D., Duffy S.R.G., Scott S.E., Whitaker K.L., Brain K. (2020). Impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the symptomatic diagnosis of cancer: the view from primary care. Lancet Oncology 21(6):748-750.

Kummer S., Walter F.M., Chilcot J., Emery J., Sutton S., Scott S.E. (2019). Do cognitive heuristics underpin symptom appraisal for symptoms of cancer?: A secondary qualitative analysis across seven cancers. Psycho-Oncology. 28, 1041-1047. 10.1002/pon.5049

Scott S.E., Penfold C., Saji S., Curtis S., Watts C., Hamilton W., Joannides A., Walter, F.M. (2019). ‘It’s nothing that you would think was anything’: qualitative analysis of appraisal and help seeking preceding brain cancer diagnosis. PLoS ONE. 14, 3, e0213599. 10.1371/journal.pone.0213599

Scott S.E., Walter F.M., Webster A., Sutton S., Emery J. (2013). The Model of Pathways to Treatment: Conceptualization and integration with existing theory. British Journal of Health Psychology, 18: 45–65. 10.1111/j.2044-8287.2012.02077.x


Laura Standen (Barts Charity), "Scoping detection of Brain Cancer in Primary care". Start date: September 2022

Charlotte Kelly-Jones, (Breast Cancer Now), Maximising acceptability of risk stratification in the NHS Breast Screening Programme

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