Skip to main content
Professor Katherine Brain

Professor Katherine Brain

Personal Chair

School of Medicine

+44 (0)29 2068 7164
UHW Main Building


I am a Professor of Health Psychology with an established track record and international reputation in leading research into behavioural aspects of cancer control. My research expertise involves understanding the determinants of late symptom presentation and non-uptake of cancer screening, psychosocial outcomes of cancer screening in high risk groups, and developing and evaluating complex behavioural interventions with a focus on reducing socioeconomic inequalities in cancer outcomes. I am academic lead for Wales in the International Cancer Benchmarking Partnership cancer awareness research, and lead a programme of research in cancer screening, prevention and early diagnosis within the Division of Population Medicine.


Employment history:

Professor, Cardiff University (2018-)
Reader, Cardiff University (2014-2018)
Senior Lecturer, Cardiff University (2009-2014)
Lecturer in Cancer Genetics Health Services Research, Cardiff University (2004-2009)
Wellcome Trust Health Services Research Fellow, UWCM (1999-2004)
Post-doctoral Research Associate, University of Wales College of Medicine (1996-1999)


Chartered Health Psychologist and registered practitioner (2007); Certificate in Economic Evaluation in Healthcare (2002); PhD Psychology (1996); BA Psychology and Education (1st, 1992).

Honours and awards

  • Chwarae Teg’s Wonderful Welsh Woman of the Year Award (People’s Choice category) finalist, 2018
  • School of Medicine Dean of Research Excellence STAR Award, 2017
  • School of Medicine Research team award for PRIME, 2017
  • Health and Care Awards Research Impact Award finalist, 2017
  • Cardiff University Research Leave Scheme, 2015-2016

Professional memberships

  • Full member of the British Psychological Society
  • Chartered Health Psychologist and registered practitioner
  • Qualification in Health Psychology (QHP) Stage II registered supervisor

Speaking engagements

Examples of speaker engagements:

  • Psychosocial influences on cancer treatment seeking. Danang Oncology Hospital, Vietnam, 2019.
  • UK Lung Cancer Coalition and Cancer Research UK Joint National Workshop on promoting the early and rapid diagnosis of lung cancer, London, 2018.
  • IASLC 19th World Conference on Lung Cancer, Toronto, 2018.
  • Policy Research Unit, Wolfson Institute of Preventive Medicine, Queen Mary’s University London 2017.
  • UK Society of Behavioural Medicine, Cardiff, 2016.
  • Wales Cancer Conference, Cardiff, 2016.
  • International Congress on Behavioural Medicine, Groningen, 2014.
  • South Wales Cancer Network 3rd Annual Patient Conference, Swansea, 2014.
  • Patient and Population Health and Informatics, Swansea University, 2014.
  • Tenovus Supporters Conference, Cardiff, 2013.

Committees and reviewing

I am a member of scientific advisory committees including North West Cancer Research (2018-) and Breast Cancer Now (2015-2018). I provide regular peer review for a wide range of funding bodies and scientific journals (including Thorax, British Journal of Cancer, British Medical Journal, Health Psychology and BMC Cancer). I am a senior academic member of the Wales Cancer Network Detecting Cancer Earlier Programme Board and Cancer Research Strategy for Wales (CReST) Strategic Oversight Board. External PhD examining duties have included University of Nottingham, University of Toronto and University College London.

























Delivery of C21 Evidence-Based Medicine tutored sessions and Research in Practice presentations; Personal Tutoring; assessment of C21 intercalated student and MSc Public Health dissertations.

My main research interests include:

  1. Psychosocial aspects of lung cancer screening, prevention and early symptom detection – identifying barriers to uptake and evaluating the impact of screening.
  2. Reducing inequalities in cancer – understanding the influence of socioeconomic and other inequalities on cancer awareness and behaviour.
  3. Behaviour change and cancer – developing, testing and implementing novel person-centred interventions to encourage earlier symptom presentation and diagnosis, and to support engagement with screening and prevention (including smoking cessation and other risk-reducing behaviours).

An example of a current project is the ABACus (Awareness and Beliefs About Cancer) trial of the health check, an interactive online intervention delivered by a trained lay advisor to encourage cancer awareness and help seeking among people living in disadvantaged communities. The trial is funded by Yorkshire Cancer Research and is being carried out in Yorkshire and Wales in collaboration with the Cardiff Centre for Trials Research:

Current and recent grants include:

  • Primary and Emergency Care Research Centre for Wales (PRIME) Screening, Prevention and Early Diagnosis work package lead. Health and Care Research Wales extension funding £1,799,934 (Co-I, 2018-2020).
  • Wales Cancer Research Centre. Health and Care Research Wales extension funding £4,500,000 (2018-2020).
  • The effect of adding a personalised smoking cessation intervention to a lung cancer screening programme. Yorkshire Cancer Research £913,432 (Co-I, 2018-2020).
  • Understanding patient delay factors in Vietnam. National Institute for Health (collaborator, 2018-2019).
  • Readiness of lung cancer screening services to deliver concurrent smoking cessation treatment: Guideline and implementation toolkit development. Tobacco Advisory Group £73,518 (collaborator 2019-2020).
  • Developing a targeted public awareness campaign to support the Rapid Diagnostic Clinic pathway. Cwm Taf University Health Board commissioned research £17,387 (co-applicant 2019).
  • Understanding experience, completion and outcomes of colorectal cancer screening among participants with multi-morbidity. Health and Care Research Wales Fellowship £388,000 (Dr Stephanie Smits, lead mentor, 2018-2021).
  • Brief decision aid to present the benefits and risks of aspirin as a preventative strategy for bowel cancer to screening-eligible members of the public. Tenovus Cancer Care £28,782 (Co-I, 2018-2019).
  • Tobacco use and pathways into regular smoking among young adults. Cancer Research UK Population Research Committee Fellowship £174,559 (Dr Ria Poole, lead mentor, 2017-2020).
  • Fellowship awards: Future Leaders in Cancer Research awards (Dr Stephanie Smits, Dr Grace McCutchan), GW4 Crucible Leadership award (Dr Ria Poole).
  • Engaging high risk, harder to reach groups in lung cancer screening and prevention. School of Medicine PhD studentship £76,000 (lead supervisor, 2017-2020).
  • ABACus randomised controlled trial of the health check intervention to improve cancer symptom awareness and help seeking. Yorkshire Cancer Research £486,000 (PI, 2017-2019).
  • Pharmacy referral for lung symptoms. RfPPB £299,000 (Co-I, 2017-2019).
  • WICKED: Wales Interventions and Cancer Knowledge about Early Diagnosis - development and evaluation of primary care interventions to expedite the diagnosis of symptomatic cancer in Wales. Cancer Research Wales programme grant £800,000 (Co-I, 2016-2019).
  • Empowering high risk, harder to reach groups to engage with lung cancer awareness and timely symptom presentation. CRUK Population Research Committee project grant £95,573 (PI, 2016-2018).
  • Bowels – inside out. CRUK Innovation grant £26,000 (Co-I, 2016-2018).
  • Cluster randomised controlled trial of decision support for older women with breast cancer. NIHR PGfAR £100,881 (Co-I, 2015-2018).


  • Francesa Mazzaschi: What are the cognitive deficits observed in adults with brain cancer receiving radiotherapy or combined chemo-radiotherapy? Co-supervisor 2018-2021. Marie Curie funded PhD studentship.
  • Pamela Smith: Engaging high risk groups in lung cancer screening and prevention. Lead supervisor 2017-2020. School of Medicine funded studentship.
  • Grace McCutchan: Developing a targeted cancer awareness intervention for people living in socioeconomically deprived communities in Wales. Lead supervisor 2013-2016. Tenovus Cancer Care studentship.
  • Rebecca Richards: Developing an app to facilitate communication between patients with cancer and their healthcare providers. Co-supervisor 2013-2016. Lead supervisor for QHP Stage 2 training 2014-2016. Tenovus Cancer Care studentship.
  • Denitza Williams: Attitudes to HPV self-sampling in a sample of Welsh women. Lead supervisor 2010-2016. MRC studentship.
  • Stephanie Smits: Development of an ovarian cancer symptom awareness management tool for women at increased genetic risk. Lead supervisor 2011-2014. MRC studentship.
  • Jana Witt: Development of a decision support intervention for risk management options in familial breast/ovarian cancer. Lead supervisor 2010-2013. Emma Jane Demery Bequest fund studentship.
  • Christalla Pithara: Benefits and disbenefits of genetics services: a framework for economic evaluation. Co-supervisor 2005-2008.
  • Ceri Phelps: Distraction-based coping intervention. Co-supervisor 2002-2005. WORD studentship.