Dr Susie Pearce

Dr Susie Pearce

Associate Professor in Clinical Nursing

School of Nursing and Midwifery (Faculty of Health)

Dr Susie Pearce can be contacted through arrangement with our Press Office, to speak to the media on these areas of expertise.
  • Nursing
  • End-of-life care
  • Cancer
  • Health services
  • Social care
  • Integrated care workforce
  • Ethnography
  • Field work
  • Longitudinal research
  • Mixed-methods
  • Participatory action research
  • Qualitative research


I am an Associate Professor (Research) in Nursing at the University of Plymouth and Co-Director of the Torbay and South Devon Clinical School which is part of the SW Regional Clinical Academic School.

I am foremost a qualitative researcher with specific interests in innovative methods, patient and professional experience, the understanding and development of cultures of compassionate, effective and safe care. I am involved in developing nurse led research both in practice and the university, linking research education and practice. I supervise MSc Dissertations and Doctoral Students and teach on methods, practice, end of life. 

Areas of current research include the developing and supporting nursing and multi -disciplinary workforce, Developing models for safe ICU nursing care, supporting complex communication at the End of Life Care. I spend 1–2 days a week at Torbay and South Devon NHS Foundation Trust as a Clinical Academic, supporting Nurses Midwives and AHPS in their clinical academic career from interns to post docs, I work with the Chief Nurse, Associate Systems Directors, Director of Research and Development in developing nursing strategy, workforce, research, innovation and development in practice


I trained as a Registered Nurse with a BSc (hons) in Nursing Studies in 1993 at Kings College, London and went straight on to practice in cancer and palliative care. After working at the Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust I completed a MSc (Cancer Care) at the the Institute of Cancer Research, London. My BSc and MSc Dissertations explored fatigue with advanced cancer patients, and the experience of stress in cancer nurses using indepth qualitative methods. These were formative within career long passion of using innovative methods to fully understand the experience of patients, develop person centred care and to explore the impact of caring on professionals and its relationship to patients and the organisation.

After being nurse researcher in palliative care at St Thomas' Hospital and Kings College, London I worked from 1997 at UCL Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust as a Clinical Nurse specialist for practice development and research in cancer care. This forged my passions for practice base research, critical social science and transforming practice through research, practice and strategic development. As Senior Nurse for Research and Development in 2001 I began a drive for developing nursing and midwifery research and research careers within health care. I have worked in  Australia as a community nurse and a nurse researcher in palliative care at La Trobe University, and then strategic nursing roles transforming infection control practice, exploring the nursing voice and developing a transformative nursing strategy at a newly integrated CNWL NHS Foundation Trust, London in two period - 2002- 2004 and 2012-15. Between 2007-12 returned to UCL and UCLH in a NIHR Biomedical Research Centre funded role to develop Teenage and Young adult cancer applied health research locally and nationally and I developed, led, was a co applicant on a number of studies in this field. I was also involved in developing the Centre for Nursing and Midwifery Research at UCLH. 

I completed a part time PhD 'Renegotiating identity in young adults with cancer: A longitudinal narrative study' UCL in 2017. This was an interdisciplinary work situated within social science- using longitudinal visual and psycho-social methods to get beyond the surface of experience, to what is not always easily to tell. In 2016 I moved to Devon to my current role at the University of Plymouth and The SW Clinical School.

Professional membership

Nursing and Midwifery Council

Royal College of Nursing

Roles on external bodies

Member of NIHR Research for Patient Benefit SW Committee 2018

Member NHIR/HEE SW Review Panel 2020

Member National Institute of Cancer Research Teenage and Young Adult Clinical Studies Group 2008–2014

Editorial Board Member for European Journal of Cancer Care 

Editorial Board member for European Journal of Oncology Nursing 2017

Regular Reviewer – Cancer Nursing, EJON, EJCC



Teaching interests

 Module lead for End of Life and palliative care.

 I teach on Practice development and qualitative research methods.

 I supervise Master-level dissertations, service developments and systematic reviews.



Research interests

My research interests include patient and professional experience multi professional team working, integrated care, young adulthood, biography, identity, cancer, end of life, emotional costs of illness and care, life limiting and chronic illness. The development of cultures of compassionate, effective and safe care and how we can support and develop the nursing workforce. 

I am situated strongly within social science and I am primarily a qualitative researcher. This includes qualitative research within larger mixed method programmes of work and developing Innovative methods of practice and policy-based applied health research.

Methods include: Longitudinal qualitative, visual, psycho-social, narrative, participatory and co-produced methods, evaluation of complex interventions, realistic evaluation, and ethnography.

Research degrees awarded to supervised students

  • Compassion in health care practice: a concept analysis. Sarah Tobin (Co-Supervisor). Completed 2019.
  • A longitudinal narrative study exploring the factors that influence maternal perceptions and use of knowledge relating to their infant's mental health.' Jane Peters (Co-Supervisor). Due to complete 2020.
  • Experience and well being in health care professionals: an Experience based co-design. Kathryn Bamforth (Director of Studies) 2019.
  • An Ethnography of nursing practice and nursing Identity in a Integrated Care Organisation. Corinne Squire (Director of Studies) 2020.

Grants & contracts

  • Endacott R, Pearce S, Griffths P et al SEISMIC Safe staffing in Critical care: and feasibility and development study. NIHR PDG 200100, £100,00
  • Hickson M, Viner J, Pearce S Developing clinical academic careers for nurses, midwives and allied health professional in Torbay and South Devon. TorbayMedical rsearch Fund £250,000
  • Whelan J,Barber, J, Feltblower R, Fern L, Gibson F, Hooker L, Lerner M, Millington, H, Moran T, Morris s, OHara C, Pearce S, Raine R, Stark D, Taylor R (2011) Do specialist cancer services for teenagers and young adults add value? NIHR Programme Grant  RP-PG-1209-10013 £1,999,957.
  • Whelan J, Pearce S, Riley, V, Jones L, Stirling C, Hough R, Gibson F (2012) Brightlight on End of life care for young adults( 16-40 years) with cancer. Marie Curie Cancer Care/ Cancer Research UK £250,000.
  • Gibson F (CI), Taylor R, Pearce S, Whelan J. Mapping teenage and young adult cancer services in England: The BRIGHTLIGHT Directory of Care. LSBU £25,000
  • Pearce S (CI), Brownsdon A, Fern L, Gibson F, Lavender V, Whelan J. Teenagers and young adults with bone sarcomas: Patient and professional perceptions of participation in clinical trials. Bone Cancer Research Trust £30,000.
  • Gibson F (CI), Grew T, Morgan S, Pearce S, Stark D, Yeoman-Taylor S, Fern. L Young people talk about cancer: a virtual ethnography study. LSBU £29,256.25
  • Pearce S (CI), Gibson F, Fern L, O' Hara C, Taylor R, Whelan J ( CI), (2010) The essence of care for teenagers and young adults with cancer: a national longitudinal study to assess the benefits of specialist care. Phase 1 to a programme of research: feasibility and scoping. Teenage Cancer Trust. £65, 000
  • Wall, M Armoogum J, vevers J, Tompsitt L, Cazenove E, Mathambo N, Cathcart E, Pearce S, Knott CÂ 2011 Tell it like it is delivering information to young people undergoing Bone Marrow Transplantation. Foundation of Nursing Studies £3,000.
  • Gibson F, Pearce S, Eden T, Hooker L, Glaser A, Whelan, J & Kelly D (2009). Cancer in young people: a narrative study to explore their experiences during the diagnostic phase. Report to CLIC Sargent Submitted 31st March 2009. CLIC Sargent, London£60,000. 
  • Kelly D, Mulhall A & Pearce S (2000) A good place to be if you are having a bad time. An ethnographic evaluation of the Teenage Cancer Trust Unit, Middlesex Hospital, London. The Teenage Cancer Trust £ 40,000.
  • Butters E, Pearce S, Stevens W, Layzell, S & Kelly, D (2000) A study to evaluate the costs of cancer chemotherapy delivery on an outpatient basis at a central London cancer centre: implications for future service developments. Clinical Research Network, UCL Medical School, London. £20,000
  • Butters E, Pearce S, Ramirez A & Richards M (1998) Development and Evaluation of a Quality of life screening checklist for use with patients with advanced cancer. Report to the NHS Executive, South Thames Breast Cancer Research Programme.



Key publications

Key publications are highlighted

Endacott R, Pattison N, Dall'Ora C, Griffiths P, Richardson A & Pearce S (2022) 'The organisation of nurse staffing in intensive care units: A qualitative study' Journal of Nursing Management , DOI Open access
Endacott R, Pearce S, Rae P, Richardson A, Bench S & Pattison N (2021) 'How COVID-19 has affected staffing models in intensive care: a qualitative study examining alternative staffing models (SEISMIC)' Journal of Advanced Nursing , DOI Open access
Rae P, Pearce S, Greaves J, Dall'Ora C, Griffiths P & Endacott R (2021) 'Outcomes sensitive to critical care nurse staffing levels: A systematic review' Intensive and Critical Care Nursing , DOI Open access
Pearce S, Gibson F, Whelan J & Kelly D (2020) 'Untellable tales and uncertain futures: the unfolding narratives of young adults with cancer' International Journal of Social Research Methodology , DOI Open access
Pearce S, Whelan J, Kelly D & Gibson F (2019) 'Renegotiation of identity in young adults with cancer: a longitudinal narrative study' International Journal of Nursing Studies 103465-103465 , DOI Open access
Fisher M, Child J, Williamson G, Pearce S, Archer J, Smethurst Z-L, Wenman S & Griffith J (2019) 'The ‘Reality of Revalidation in Practice’ (RRiP) project - Experiences of registrants and preparation of students in nursing and midwifery in the United Kingdom: A descriptive exploratory survey' Nurse Education Today , DOI Open access
Pearce SM (2019) 'Understanding care when cure is not likely for young adults who face cancer: a realist analysis of data from patients, families and healthcare professionals' BMJ Open , DOI Open access
Pearce S (2018) 'Health professional perceptions of communicating with adolescents and young adults about bone cancer clinical trial participation' Supportive Care in Cancer , DOI Open access
Gibson F, Pearce S, Fern L, Martins A & Kelly D (2017) 'Improving the identification of cancer in young people: A scoping review' Expert Review of Quality of Life in Cancer Care 2, (2) 87-101 , DOI Open access
Ngwenya N, Kenten C, Jones L, Gibson F, Pearce S, Flatley M, Hough R, Stirling LC, Taylor RM & Wong G (2017) 'Experiences and Preferences for End-of-Life Care for Young Adults with Cancer and Their Informal Carers: A Narrative Synthesis' Journal of Adolescent and Young Adult Oncology , DOI Open access
Ngwenya N, Kenten C, Pearce S, Stirling C, Gibson F, Wong G, Jones L & Whelan J (2016) 'Challenges encountered in end of life care research with young adults with cancer' European Journal of Surgical Oncology (EJSO) 42, (11) S251-S252 , DOI
Vindrola-Padros C, Taylor RM, Lea S, Hooker L, Pearce S, Whelan J & Gibson F (2016) 'Mapping Adolescent Cancer Services' Cancer Nursing 39, (5) 358-366 , DOI
Pearce S, Brownsdon A, Fern L, Gibson F, Whelan J & Lavender V (2016) 'The perceptions of teenagers, young adults and professionals in the participation of bone cancer clinical trials' European Journal of Cancer Care 0-0 , DOI
Gibson F, Hibbins S, Grew T, Morgan S, Pearce S, Stark D & Fern LA (2016) 'How young people describe the impact of living with and beyond a cancer diagnosis: feasibility of using social media as a research method' Psycho-Oncology 25, (11) 1317-1323 , DOI
Taylor RM, Fern LA, Solanki A, Hooker L, Carluccio A, Pye J, Jeans D, Frere–Smith T, Gibson F & Barber J (2015) 'Development and validation of the BRIGHTLIGHT Survey, a patient-reported experience measure for young people with cancer' Health and Quality of Life Outcomes 13, (1) 0-0 , DOI Open access
Pearce S & Pearce SM (2015) 'https://dx.doi.org/10.1136%2Fbmjopen-2015-UCLSymposiumAbstracts.23' BMJ.com
Fern LA, Taylor RM, Whelan J, Pearce S, Grew T, Brooman K, Starkey C, Millington H, Ashton J & Gibson F (2013) 'The Art of Age-Appropriate Care' Cancer Nursing 36, (5) E27-E38 , DOI
Gibson F, Pearce S, Eden T, Glaser A, Hooker L, Whelan J & Kelly D (2013) 'Young people describe their prediagnosis cancer experience' Psycho-Oncology 22, (11) 2585-2592 , DOI
Taylor RM, Pearce S, Gibson F, Fern L & Whelan J (2013) 'Developing a conceptual model of teenage and young adult experiences of cancer through meta-synthesis' International Journal of Nursing Studies 50, (6) 832-846 , DOI
Whelan J, Pearce S, Jones L, Stirling C, Hough R, Riley V, Fern L, Morris S, Moran T & Tookman A (2013) 'AN INTRODUCTION TO BRIGHTLIGHT ON END OF LIFE CARE FOR YOUNG ADULTS: WHAT DO YOUNG ADULTS WITH CANCER AND THEIR FAMILIES NEED AND HOW CAN IT BEST BE DELIVERED?' BMJ Supportive & Palliative Care 3, (1) 133.2-134 , DOI
GIBSON F, FERN L, WHELAN J, PEARCE S, LEWIS IJ, HOBIN D & TAYLOR RM (2012) 'A scoping exercise of favourable characteristics of professionals working in teenage and young adult cancer care: ‘thinking outside of the box’' European Journal of Cancer Care 21, (3) 330-339 , DOI
Taylor RM, Fern L, Whelan J, Pearce S, Grew T, Millington H, Ashton J, Brooman K, Starkey C & Gibson F (2011) '“Your Place or Mine?” Priorities for a Specialist Teenage and Young Adult (TYA) Cancer Unit: Disparity Between TYA and Professional Perceptions' Journal of Adolescent and Young Adult Oncology 1, (3) 145-151 , DOI
Pearce S (2009) 'Policy and practice in teenage and young adult cancer care in England: Looking to the future' European Journal of Oncology Nursing 13, (3) 149-153 , DOI
Kelly D, Pearce S & Mulhall A (2004) '‘Being in the same boat’: ethnographic insights into an adolescent cancer unit' International Journal of Nursing Studies 41, (8) 847-857 , DOI
MULHALL A, KELLY D & PEARCE S (2004) 'A qualitative evaluation of an adolescent cancer unit' European Journal of Cancer Care 13, (1) 16-22 , DOI
Kelly D, Pearce S, Butters E, Stevens W & Layzell S (2004) 'Achieving change in the NHS: a study to explore the feasibility of a home-based cancer chemotherapy service' International Journal of Nursing Studies 41, (2) 215-224 , DOI
Kelly D, Mullhall A & Pearce S (2003) 'Adolescent cancer—the need to evaluate current service provision in the UK' European Journal of Oncology Nursing 7, (1) 53-58 , DOI
Browne N, Harris R, Hunt J, Kelly D, Kelley K, Pearce S, Plant H, Richardson A & Sitzia J (2002) 'An assessment of lead R&D nursing roles in acute trusts and an evaluation of their status within the NHS research agenda' NT Research 7, (4) 274-286 , DOI
Mulhall A, Kelly D & Pearce S (2001) 'Naturalistic approaches to healthcare evaluation: The case of a teenage cancer unit' Journal of Clinical Excellence 3, (4) 167-173
Pearce S, Kelly D & Stevens W (2001) '‘More than just money’- widening the understanding of the costs involved in cancer care' Journal of Advanced Nursing 33, (3) 371-379 , DOI
Pearce S (2001) 'Men's experiences of coping with their wives' breast cancer involved focusing on the cancer and treatment and focusing on family to keep life going' Evidence-Based Nursing 4, (1) 31-31 , DOI
Pearce S (1998) 'The experience of stress for cancer nurses: a heideggerian phenomenological approach' European Journal of Oncology Nursing 2, (4) 235-237 , DOI
PEARCE S & RICHARDSON A (1996) 'Fatigue in cancer: a phenomenological perspective' European Journal of Cancer Care 5, (2) 111-115 , DOI
PEARCE S & RICHARDSON A (1994) 'Fatigue and cancer: a phenomenological study' Journal of Clinical Nursing 3, (6) 381-382 , DOI
Pearce SM (2008) 'The Impact of Adolescent Cancer on Healthcare Professionals' in kelly D; gibson F CANCER CARE FOR ADOLESCENTS AND YOUNG ADULTS london Blackwell 59-80
Conference Papers
Ngwenya N, Kenten C, Jones L, Gibson F, Pearce S, Stirling C, Taylor R & Whelan J (2016) 'G11-B “Hospice Scares the Life Out of Me”: Breaking Down Barriers to Communication with Young Adults with Terminal Cancer' Elsevier BV e62-e62 , DOI
Pearce S, Lavender V, Brownsdon A, Gibson F, Fern L & Whelan J (2013) 'Perceptions of participants and professionals in bone sarcoma clinical trials: Implications for study design and conduct' S882-S882
Fern L, Grew T, Hibbins S, Morgan S, Pearce S, Stark D & Gibson F (2011) 'YOUNG PEOPLE TALK ABOUT CANCER: A VIRTUAL ETHNOGRAPHY STUDY' 746-746
Gibson F, Pearce S, Eden OB, Glaser A, Hooker L, Whelan J & Kelly D (2011) '49 INVITED Why are Adolescents Diagnosed Later With Cancer?' Elsevier BV S14-S14 , DOI
Pearce S, Gibson F, Eden T, Glaser A, Hooker L, Whelan J & Kelly D (2009) '4170 The experiences of young people from first symptoms to the diagnosis of cancer: a narrative study' Elsevier BV 234-235 , DOI
Butters E, Pearce S, Ramirez A & Richards M (1998) 'A new screening checklist for advanced cancer - the process of content development' 124-124
Butters E, Pearce S, Ramirez A & Richards M (1998) 'Development of a quality of life screening checklist for advanced cancer' 104-104
Presentations and posters
Pearce S, Kelly D, Gibson F & Whelan J Pearce S, Kelly D, Gibson F & Whelan J 'Getting underneath the surface in a longitudinal narrative study with young adults with cancer; the value of the psychosocial' Author Site
Other Publications
Endacott R, Rae P, Pearce S, Greaves J, Dall'Ora C & Griffiths P Outcomes sensitive to critical care nurse staffing levels: A systematic review protocol. Open access


Other academic activities

Florence Nightingale Foundation Research Fellowship 2011/2012/2013

RCNi Award for Excellence in Cancer Research 2016