Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences

Stages of success

21 May 2012

Supervisor and student stepped out on the same stage as Dr Felicity Goodyear-Smith, Goodfellow Postgraduate Professor in General Practice and Primary Health Care, was conferred with her MD at the same ceremony at which one of her students graduated with a PhD.in General Practice.


Dr Helen Aspasia Petousis-Harris’s PhD was on factors associated with reactions to vaccines, while Felicity earned her MD with a thesis based on her years of developing, evaluating and validating a tool called CHAT, now available electronically as eCHAT.

This is a primary care tool designed to help patients to identify unhealthy behaviours such as smoking, drinking, drug use, gambling or exposure to abuse. It also allows them to pinpoint problematic mood states such as depression, anxiety or anger, and to indicate which (if any) they would like help to address. Patients can answer the questions on an iPad in the surgery.

“It starts a conversation between doctor and patient”,  says Felicity, “and lays a base for shared decision-making and self-help.”

The tool is still being trialled but is also being used. It has received a lot of international interest, says Felicity, especially from Australia, the UK and Canada, and is now being used in Alaska, in a community setting with Inuit youth.

And how does it feel to receive the MD? “I have been a researcher for the past decade, was promoted to professor a couple of years ago and have been supervising PhD students for some time. It feels great now to have actually graduated with a doctoral degree myself.”