Dr Penny Wright


Penny’s first degree was in psychology prior to undertaking social work training. She then had a number of social work posts, latterly working in hospitals and specialising in cancer. She completed a part-time Master’s degree in Psychosocial Palliative Care at the University of Southampton and moved in to cancer research in 1996. Penny undertook a part-time PhD while working as a research assistant. Her interest is in the social impact cancer on the everyday lives of patients and their families. She was awarded a three year Macmillan Career Development Fellowship and on completion of this she was appointed Associate Professor of Psychosocial Cancer Care and set up the Psychosocial Research Group (PSRG). Penny's research group is part of the Section of Patient Centred Outcomes Research.

Research interests

Penny’s research initially focussed on use of electronic systems to exchange information between patients and clinical teams. In 2010, following a grant awarded by Macmillan Cancer Support, she developed an online questionnaire builder and management system (QTool) to collect patient reported outcome data from cancer survivors to link with cancer registration data. QTool has been built on over the subsequent years by other researchers and is now a University of Leeds product available for licence. In parallel with the research in data capture she became interested in use of Patient Reported Outcome Measures. This resulted in the development of the Social Difficulties Inventory (SDI-21), which is now used in clinical practice and in research. More recently Penny has been involved in a number of epidemiological projects linking Patient Reported Outcome data with routinely collected clinical data from cancer registries and electronic patient records. Following project work with Carers Leeds, a local third sector organisation, Penny became interested in carer assessment. In 2016 she was awarded a grant from the Medical Research Council to develop a questionnaire to assess the quality of life of people who are caring for someone with dementia.

Ongoing projects:

  •  2016 – 2021: The Yorkshire Cancer Research Bowel Cancer Improvement Programme. Co-Investigator with PI Phil Quirke. Workstream lead on Patient Reported Outcomes. Yorkshire Cancer Research.
  • 2016-2019: The Yorkshire Cancer Research: Life after Bladder Cancer Diagnosis. Co-Investigator with PI Jim Catto. Workstream lead on Patient Reported Outcomes. Yorkshire Cancer Research.
  • 2015-2017: Comprehensive Patient Records (CPR) to define the impact of cancer, co-morbidities and late effects on individuals and the health service. Co-Investigator with PIs Geoff Hall and Adam Glaser. Workstream lead on Patient Reported Outcomes. Macmillan Cancer Support.
  • 2015-2018: Dementia Carers Instrument Development (DECIDE). Principal Investigator. Medical Research Council.
  • 2014-2017: Life after Prostate Cancer (LAPCD). Co-Investigator. Workstream One lead: PROMS development and delivery. Prostate Cancer UK


  • BSc (hons) Psychology
  • Msc Psychosocial Palliative Care
  • PhD

Research groups and institutes

  • Leeds Institute of Medical Research at St James's