Leanne Shearsmith

Leanne Shearsmith


I am a Research Assistant working within the Leeds Institute of Health Sciences. My primary research interest is using behavioural science to support those living with and beyond cancer.

I’m currently working on the Yorkshire Cancer Research (YCR) funded APPROACH study exploring the potential of a mobile phone application to increase physical activity in Yorkshire cancer patients. I have won over £4000 of grant funding to conduct PPIE work in the development of an NIHR doctoral fellowship application, and to present internationally on the topic of digital health interventions in gynaecological cancer survivors. I have expertise in qualitative research methods, and I am a lead organiser of the Qualitative Reflective Practice Group at the University of Leeds.


After graduating from the University of Leeds with BSc (Hons, Industrial) in Psychology in 2016, I joined the Section of Patient Centred Outcomes Research group within Leeds Institute of Cancer and Pathology at St James’ Hospital. As a Research Assistant, I contributed to a number of studies focused on using digital health interventions to measure and improve quality of life outcomes for cancer patients. I became a strong advocate for Patient and Public Involvement and Engagement, and became chair of the research group’s patient advisory group. My role involved participant recruitment in outpatient oncology clinics, conducting patient interviews, and the collection and analysis of Patient Reported Outcome Measures and quality of life data. I also contributed to the DECIDE study, developing a reliable and valid measure to assess the needs of carers of people living with dementia.

In 2019 I joined Leeds Institute of Health Sciences to work on the MODs study, an NIHR PGfAR funded multi-centre randomised controlled trial which aims to develop and evaluate a psychological intervention to manage depression among older people with long term physical health conditions. When the Covid-19 pandemic began in 2020, we created an adapted version of MODs: the Behavioural Activation in Social IsoLation (BASIL+) study, which was classified as an Urgent Public Health study by the Department of Health and Social Care and the National Institute for Health Research. This pilot and main RCT evaluated a brief psychological intervention for older people to mitigate depression and loneliness during the Covid-19 pandemic. I contributed to the qualitative evaluation work conducted alongside this, led the communications and social media dissemination for both trials, and developed skills and expertise in delivering large-scale trials remotely.

My grounding in oncology, quality of life, and applied health research led me to be invited to tutor on the undergraduate MBChB module “Individuals and Populations” for which I have tutored for two years. In addition to my academic expertise, I have experience of delivering brief psychological interventions for depression in older adults, and behaviour change interventions for people with concurrent binge eating disorder and diabetes. I previously worked as a care assistant providing personal care, companionship, and administering medication for vulnerable clients in a community setting. My first job alongside my A-Levels was as a lifeguard in a hydrotherapy pool for individuals with long term health conditions and disabilities. This early awareness of inequalities in quality of life brought about by health conditions and a desire to improve it has underscored my career trajectory.

Research interests

  • Cancer

  • Qualitative Research Methods

  • Co-design and patient public involvement

  • Physical activity

  • Behaviour change interventions

  • Digital health interventions

  • Quality of life

  • Randomised Controlled Trials

  • Health inequalities

  • Equality, diversity and inclusion


  • BSc Psychology (Industrial)

Research groups and institutes

  • Leeds Institute of Medical Research at St James's
  • Patient Centred Outcomes
  • Leeds Institute of Health Sciences