Associate Professor Rhonda Brown

BSc(hons), PhD
Associate Professor of Psychology
ANU College of Health and Medicine
T: 02 6125 0635

Areas of expertise

  • Health, Clinical And Counselling Psychology 170106
  • Psychiatry (Incl. Psychotherapy) 110319

Research interests

Rhonda has a broad range of medical psychology research interests with emphasis on the chronic illness experience and predictors of disease outcomes in chronic illness patients. Recently this work has focused on: (i) the relationship between stress, psychosocial factors (e.g. coping, psychological distress) and chronic illness outcomes (e.g. fatigue, relapse); (ii) and the impact of chronic illness on psychological outcomes and quality of life in people with multiple sclerosis, cancer, and fatiguing illness; (iii) anxiety, depression, and fatigue co-morbidity; (iv) immune and infectious disease disturbances in anorexia nervosa; and (iv) communication skills training, doctor-patient communication, medical decision-making, and work-related stress in doctors and other health workers.


Dr. Brown received her PhD in the School of Biological & Behavioral Sciences at the University of New South Wales in 1996. She worked as a National Institute of Mental Health Postdoctoral Research Fellow in Behavioral Neuropharmacology, Louisiana State University, USA, and then as a research-only academic in the Department of Psychological Medicine, University of Sydney, Royal North Shore & Royal Prince Alfred Hospitals, with teaching responsibilities in the Graduate Medical Program, University of Sydney. From 2004-11, she was unit coordinator and lecturer in Health Psychology at the University of New England, and she is now unit coordinator and lecturer in Health Psychology at ANU.

Researcher's projects

  • Comorbidity involving medical illnesses and psychological disorders

Current student projects

HDR students

  • Relationship between stress, social support utilization, coping and affective distress in people with Autism Spectrum Disorder
  • Deficits in interoceptive functioning in people with Autism Spectrum Disorders and its relationship to affective distress
  • Predictors of subjective and objective measures of sleep and predictors of obesity in a community sample
  • Predictors of subjective measures of sleep and obesity including disordered eating, sleep-disrupting behaviour and affective distress in a community sample
  • Effectiveness of CPAP in treating patients with sleep apnoea
  • Role of arousal in mediating the effects of stress on impaired sleep and affective distress over time in a community sample
  • Predictors of mental health, self-care and diabetes outcomes in people with Diabetes Mellitus


Honours topics

  • Interoceptive awareness as it pertains to stress, affective distress (e.g. anxiety, depression), alexithymia, and unhelpful cognitions (e.g. intolerance of uncertainty, anxiety-sensitivity, worry)
  • Interoceptive awareness as it pertains to empathy
  • Empathy in doctors, lawyers, and training professionals (e.g. psychology, medicine)
  • Precipitants and perpetuators of clinical and non-clinical fatigue

Past student projects


  • Predictors and mediators of the sleep quality to BMI relationship
  • Relationship between physical activity cognitions, physical activity measures, and fatigue severity in a non-clinical sample
  • Mediators and moderators of the stressor – fatigue relationship in non-clinical samples
  • Poor sleep quality mediates between affective symptoms to fatigue in a university student sample
  • Control cognitions and causal attributions as predictors of fatigue severity in a community sample
  • Relationships between stress, psychological distress, rumination, and sleep in a community sample
  • Stress, psychological distress, psychosocial factors, menopause symptoms and physical health in women
  • Stress, support and burnout in intellectual disability support staff
  • Associations between dispositional optimism, time perspective, mood and quality of life in adult cancer survivors
  • Stress, psychological distress, fatigue, supports and intention to quit in police officers
  • Parental stress, social support and distress in parents of children with an Autism Spectrum Disorder


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Updated:  22 February 2024 / Responsible Officer:  Director (Research Services Division) / Page Contact:  Researchers