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Professor Heidi Probst PhD, MA, BSc(HONS), DCR(T), FCR

Director of the Health Research Institute, Researcher and lecturer


Summary

I have 14 years prior clinical experience working as a Therapeutic Radiographer in the NHS and 20 years experience in academia; as a researcher and lecturer. I lead on the Cancer Management Research cluster; part of the Aging and Long-term conditions research theme in the Applied Health and Care Research Centre. I am also the Director of the Health Research Institute.

My main research area is radiotherapy for patients diagnosed with breast cancer. I am the Principal Investigator on two breast cancer studies (The SuPPORT 4 All Project, and The Respire project).

About

I qualified as a Therapeutic Radiographer from the Royal London Hospital (Whitechapel) and worked for the NHS for 14 years in Radiotherapy and Oncology where my specialist area was pre-treatment imaging.

I started my PhD while a clinical radiographer working at the Leeds Teaching Hospital NHS Trust. I was awarded a fellowship from the Department of Health to complete my PhD, which was a randomized clinical trial investigating different radiotherapy protocols for patients treated for breast cancer.

I joined Sheffield Hallam University on completion of my PhD and have 20 years of experience of teaching Radiotherapy and Oncology at undergraduate and postgraduate level. My specialist research areas include radiotherapy for breast cancer, radiotherapy workforce development, e-learning, and randomised controlled trials. I am an experienced doctoral supervisor and examiner and was awarded a University Inspirational Research Supervisor award in 2014.

I am founder and chair of the Breast Radiotherapy Interest Group (BRIG) and chief investigator for two radiotherapy breast cancer studies: 1. The SuPPORT 4 All study, where we co-designed (with patients and healthcare practitioners) a novel support bra for women to wear during breast irradiation, and 2. The RESPIRE project where a series of online patient resources have been developed (through a co-design methodology) to support patients undergoing breath hold techniques as part of their radiotherapy. I have participated in the development a number of national radiotherapy guidelines including the 2015 and 2020 College of Radiographers Radiotherapy skin care guidelines, The Royal College of Radiologist UK consensus statements for postoperative radiotherapy for breast cancer, and the College of Radiographers Patient, Public, and Practitioner Partnership within Imaging and Radiotherapy: Guiding Principles.

My research interests are in workforce development and breast irradiation. My research into breast irradiation evolved directly from my clinical practice experience and my PhD research to develop understanding of the impact of technical delivery of radiotherapy on patient outcomes, service efficiency and variations in practice across radiotherapy centres. My PhD was a large randomised controlled trial (n=360) focusing on assessing the implications of radiotherapy protocols for breast cancer, the impact on the patient and the use of NHS resources. The overarching priority of this research was to identify protocols that would maximise use of scarce NHS resources while not diminishing the quality of the applied treatments while also investigating patient choice regarding the use of permanent tattoos for treatment alignment.

My subsequent research in this field has focused on a method to improve treatment reproducibility and to provide patient modesty (SuPPORT 4 All study). The SuPPORT 4 All study (a nationally funded project) again focuses on enhancing treatment accuracy while minimising radiation side effects, notably skin (dry and moist desquamation) and heart toxicity (ischemic heart disease) while enhancing patient dignity.

Teaching

Research Institute

Health And Wellbeing

The SuPPORT 4 All project (S4A project) - The aim of this project was to co-design, produce and test a support bra for immobilising breast tissue during radiotherapy for women diagnosed with breast cancer (who have undergone removal of the tumour leaving an intact breast). Breast cancer affects a substantial proportion of the population with over 2.2 million diagnosed globally in 2020. For many of the women diagnosed with breast cancer the primary treatment is local excision followed by external beam radiotherapy to the whole breast. New radiotherapy techniques provide the opportunity to spare sensitive structures that lie close to the breast; these techniques require greater accuracy in patient alignment. Inadequate patient alignment may lead to areas of under or overdosing of radiation with subsequent impacts on the risk of a loco-regional recurrence of the tumour or poorer cosmetic outcome of treatment. Added to this in the majority of radiotherapy centres worldwide women lie for breast irradiation, bare from the waist upwards, with up to four therapy radiographers (including men) adjusting and manipulating their thorax and breast in preparation for treatment. This can be distressing for women at a time when they may still be adjusting to an altered body image. Women with large or pendulous breasts can be difficult to position and are known to have worse skin reactions following radiotherapy. The use of a support bra to lift breast tissue away from the chest wall could help reduce positioning inaccuracies, reduce the radiation dose received by sensistive organs (such as the heart or lung) and reduce skin reactions at the lower end of the breast; leading to better outcomes.

The Respire Project - In the Respire project we have co-designed web-based information resources for patients diagnosed with breast cancer, that have been referred to have external beam radiotherapy using a breath hold technique. Breath hold techniques are used to reduce the dose of radiation received by the heart during breast cancer radiotherapy. The breath hold technique can be difficult to achieve and producing a consistent breath hold over the course of radiotherapy can be challenging. The web-based resources were developed and produced with patient representatives and healthcare practitioners.

Radiotherapy and Oncology

Research

The SuPPORT 4 All project (S4A project) - The aim of this project was to co-design, produce and test a support bra for immobilising breast tissue during radiotherapy for women diagnosed with breast cancer (who have undergone removal of the tumour leaving an intact breast). Breast cancer affects a substantial proportion of the population with over 2.2 million diagnosed globally in 2020. For many of the women diagnosed with breast cancer the primary treatment is local excision followed by external beam radiotherapy to the whole breast. New radiotherapy techniques provide the opportunity to spare sensitive structures that lie close to the breast; these techniques require greater accuracy in patient alignment. Inadequate patient alignment may lead to areas of under or overdosing of radiation with subsequent impacts on the risk of a loco-regional recurrence of the tumour or poorer cosmetic outcome of treatment. Added to this in the majority of radiotherapy centres worldwide women lie for breast irradiation, bare from the waist upwards, with up to four therapy radiographers (including men) adjusting and manipulating their thorax and breast in preparation for treatment. This can be distressing for women at a time when they may still be adjusting to an altered body image. Women with large or pendulous breasts can be difficult to position and are known to have worse skin reactions following radiotherapy. The use of a support bra to lift breast tissue away from the chest wall could help reduce positioning inaccuracies, reduce the radiation dose received by sensistive organs (such as the heart or lung) and reduce skin reactions at the lower end of the breast; leading to better outcomes.

The Respire Project - In the Respire project we have co-designed web-based information resources for patients diagnosed with breast cancer, that have been referred to have external beam radiotherapy using a breath hold technique. Breath hold techniques are used to reduce the dose of radiation received by the heart during breast cancer radiotherapy. The breath hold technique can be difficult to achieve and producing a consistent breath hold over the course of radiotherapy can be challenging. The web-based resources were developed and produced with patient representatives and healthcare practitioners.

https://www.shu.ac.uk/research/in-action/projects/designing-a-bra-for-radiotherapy www.respire.org.uk

Publications

Key Publications

Probst, H., & Griffiths, S. (2006). Moving to a high-tech approach to the irradiation of early breast cancer: Is it possible to balance efficacy, morbidity and resource use? Clinical Oncology, 18 (3), 268-275. http://doi.org/10.1016/j.clon.2005.11.009

Probst, H. (2012). Burnout in therapy radiographers in the United Kingdom. British Journal of Radiology, 85 (1017), e760-e765. http://doi.org/10.1259/bjr/16840236

Probst, H., Choppin, S., Harrison, M., & Goyal, A. (2015). The development of a low cost 3D surface imaging system to measure breast volume: defining minimum standards using an adapted Delphi consensus study. Journal of Plastic, Reconstructive and Aesthetic Surgery, 68 (12), 1770-1772. http://doi.org/10.1016/j.bjps.2015.09.014

Ledsom, D., Reilly, A.J., & Probst, H. (2018). Assessment of deep inspiration breath hold (DIBH) amplitude and reduction in cardiac dose in left breast cancer patients. Radiography, 24 (2), 98-103. http://doi.org/10.1016/j.radi.2017.11.005

Hutton, D., Beardmore, C., Patel, I., Massey, J., Wong, H., & Probst, H. (2014). Audit of the job satisfaction levels of the UK radiography and physics workforce in UK radiotherapy centres 2012. The British Journal of Radiology, 87 (1039), 20130742. http://doi.org/10.1259/bjr.20130742

Probst, H., Bragg, C., Dodwell, D., Green, D., & Hart, J. (2014). A systematic review of methods to immobilise breast tissue during adjuvant breast irradiation. Radiography, 20 (1), 70-81. http://doi.org/10.1016/j.radi.2013.10.008

Harris, R., Probst, H., Beardmore, C., James, S., Dumbleton, C., Bolderston, A., ... Southgate, E. (2012). Radiotherapy skin care: A survey of practice in the UK. Radiography, 18 (1), 21-27. http://doi.org/10.1016/j.radi.2011.10.040

Probst, H., Eddy, D., Doughty, J., & Hodgson, D. (2009). Integrating e-learning into postgraduate radiotherapy and oncology education: a case study. E-Learning and digital media, 6 (4), 363-371. http://doi.org/10.2304/elea.2009.6.4.363

Probst, H., Dodwell, D., Gray, J.C., & Holmes, M. (2006). An evaluation of the accuracy of semi-permanent skin marks for breast cancer irradiation. Radiography, 12 (3), 186-188. http://doi.org/10.1016/j.radi.2005.07.001

Probst, H., & Griffiths, S. (2007). Retaining therapy radiographers: What's so special about us? Journal of Radiotherapy in Practice, 6 (1), 21-32. http://doi.org/10.1017/S1460396907005043

Probst, H., Holmes, M., & Dodwell, D. (2003). Radiotherapy waiting times, resources and protocols for breast carcinoma: A survey of UK radiotherapy centres. Journal of Radiotherapy in Practice, 3 (3), 113-121. http://doi.org/10.1017/S1460396903000116

Probst, H., Harris, R., McNair, H.A., Baker, A., Miles, E.A., & Beardmore, C. (2015). Research from therapeutic radiographers : an audit of research capacity within the UK. Radiography, 21 (2), 112-118. http://doi.org/10.1016/j.radi.2014.10.009

Probst, H., & Griffiths, S. (2009). Job satisfaction of therapy radiographers in the UK : results of a phase I qualitative study. Radiography, 15 (2), 146-157. http://doi.org/10.1016/j.radi.2008.02.003

Probst, H., Dodwell, D., Gray, J., & Holmes, M. (2005). Radiotherapy for breast carcinoma: An evaluation of the relationship between the central lung depth and respiratory symptoms. Radiography, 11 (1), 3-9. http://doi.org/10.1016/j.radi.2004.08.004

Harris, R., Beardmore, C., Probst, H., Burke, G., James, S., & Bolderston, A. (2015). Radiotherapy skin care guidance. EUROPEAN JOURNAL OF CANCER CARE, 24, 32.

Probst, H., & Griffiths, S. (1996). Increasing the work speed of radiographers: The effect on the accuracy of a set-up of a complex shaped cranial field, part of a matched cranio spinal junction. Radiotherapy and Oncology, 38 (3), 241-245. http://doi.org/10.1016/0167-8140(96)01710-0

Davies, J., Heaton, A., Love, K., Probst, H., McNair, H.A., Miles, E., ... Rawlings, C. (2007). Gap analysis of role definition and training needs for therapeutic research radiographers in the UK. British Journal of Radiology, 80 (957), 693-701. http://doi.org/10.1259/bjr/32519670

Probst, H., Reed, H., Rosbottom, K., Stanton, A., Crank, H., Bryan-Jones, K., & Collins, K. (2018). OC-0192: The development of a device to immobilise the breast during radiotherapy: The SuPPORT 4 All project. Radiotherapy and Oncology, 127, S103-S104. http://doi.org/10.1016/S0167-8140(18)30502-4

Probst, H., & Brealey, S. (2010). Health technology assessment. In Ramlaul, A. (Ed.) Medical imaging and radiotherapy research : skills and strategies. (pp. 123-156). London: Churchill Livingstone Elsevier

Choppin, S., Probst, H., Goyal, A., Clarkson, S., & Wheat, J. (2013). Breast volume calculation using a low-cost scanning system. In D'Apuzzo, N. (Ed.) Proceedings of the 4th International Conference on 3D Body Scanning Technologies, Long Beach CA, USA, 19-20 November 2013, (pp. 12-20). Ascona, Switzerland: Hometrica Consulting: http://doi.org/10.15221/13.012

Tran, W.T., Childs, C., Probst, H., Farhat, G., & Czarnota, G.J. (2018). Imaging Biomarkers for Precision Medicine in Locally Advanced Breast Cancer. Journal of Medical Imaging and Radiation Sciences, 49 (4), 342-351. http://doi.org/10.1016/j.jmir.2017.09.006

Tran, W.T. (2018). Measuring Chemotherapy Response in Breast Cancer Using Optical and Ultrasound Spectroscopy. (Doctoral thesis). Supervised by Childs, C., Probst, H., & Czarnota, G.

Robinson, L., Goodwill, G., Harris, R., Johnson, L., LePensee, S., Mada, M., ... Williamson, M. (2018). Patient Public and Practitioner Partnerships within Imaging and Radiotherapy: Guiding Principles. https://www.sor.org/sites/default/files/document-versions/guiding_principles_final_proofed_0.pdf

Robinson, L., Goodwill, G., Harris, R., Johnson, L., LePensee, S., Mada, M., ... Williamson, M. (2018). Patient Public and Practitioner Partnerships within Imaging and Radiotherapy: Guiding Principles. https://www.sor.org/sites/default/files/document-versions/guiding_principles_final_proofed_0.pdf

Journal articles

Burke, G., Faithful, S., & Probst, H. (2021). Radiation induced skin reactions during and following radiotherapy: A systematic review of interventions. Radiography. http://doi.org/10.1016/j.radi.2021.09.006

D'Angelo, K., Eansor, P., D'Souza, L.A., Norris, M.E., Bauman, G.S., Kassam, Z., ... Palma, D.A. (2021). Implementation and evaluation of an online anatomy, radiology and contouring bootcamp for radiation therapists. Journal of Medical Imaging and Radiation Sciences. http://doi.org/10.1016/j.jmir.2021.09.010

Probst, H., Rosbottom, K., Crank, H., Stanton, A., & Reed, H. (2020). The patient experience of radiotherapy for breast cancer: A qualitative investigation as part of the SuPPORT 4 All study. Radiography. http://doi.org/10.1016/j.radi.2020.09.011

Probst, H., Burke, G., & Faithfull, S. (2020). The systematic review (appendix 4). It is a published guideline not a journal. https://www.sor.org/news/scor-updates-radiation-dermatitis-guidelines

Probst, H., Burke, G., & Faithfull, S. (2020). The systematic review (appendix 4). It is a published guideline not a journal. https://www.sor.org/news/scor-updates-radiation-dermatitis-guidelines

Probst, H., Barry, J., Clough, H., Lindley, M., Mather, R., Newton, H., ... Burton, M. (2020). Resource to prepare patients for deep inspiration breath hold: the RESPIRE project. Radiography, 26, S10. http://doi.org/10.1016/j.radi.2019.11.027

Clarkson, M., Heads, G., Hodgson, D., & Probst, H. (2019). Does the intervention of mindfulness reduce levels of burnout and compassion fatigue and increase resilience in pre-registration students? A pilot study. Radiography, 25 (1), 4-9. http://doi.org/10.1016/j.radi.2018.08.003

Williams, K., & Probst, H. (2016). Use of IV contrast media in radiotherapy planning CT scans: A UK audit. Radiography, 22 (1), S28-S32. http://doi.org/10.1016/j.radi.2016.06.006

Hardy, M., & Probst, H. (2015). Engineering Patient Safety in Radiation Oncology. Journal of Medical Imaging and Radiation Sciences, 46 (4), 450. http://doi.org/10.1016/j.jmir.2015.09.008

Probst, H., Boylan, M., Nelson, P., & Martin, R.W. (2014). Early career resilience: interdisciplinary insights to support professional education of Radiation Therapists. Journal of Medical Imaging and Radiation Sciences, 45 (4), 390-398. http://doi.org/10.1016/j.jmir.2014.09.003

Probst, H., Hutton, D., Collins, M.L., & Adams, R. (2014). Response to editorial in the JRP by robson, clark and white 2014 patient safety: The journey towards safer radiotherapy. Journal of Radiotherapy in Practice, 13 (2), 247-250. http://doi.org/10.1017/S1460396914000120

Probst, H., Taylor, A., Bragg, C., Dodwell, D., Haake, S., Hart, J., ... Shuttleworth, P. (2012). PO-0956 support positioning and organ registration during breast cancer irradiation : the Support 4 All study. Radiotherapy and Oncology, 103 (S1), S376-S377. http://doi.org/10.1016/S0167-8140(12)71289-6

Probst, H., Gallagher, H.L., & Harris, R. (2011). Research and the radiography profession: A strategy for research 2010-2015. Radiography, 17 (4), 268-269. http://doi.org/10.1016/j.radi.2011.08.001

Probst, H., & Harris, R. (2009). Getting started with research. Journal of Radiotherapy in Practice, 8 (2), 57-65. http://doi.org/10.1017/S1460396908006572

Vrouvas, J., Dodwell, D., Ash, D., & Probst, H. (1995). Split course radiotherapy for bladder cancer in elderly unfit patients. Clinical Oncology, 7 (3), 193-195. http://doi.org/10.1016/S0936-6555(05)80515-1

Conference papers

Ledsom, D., Reilly, A., & Probst, H. (2016). Does level of DIBH amplitude correlate to reduction in cardiac dose in left breast cancer patients? (Abstract only). Radiotherapy and Oncology, 119, S486-S487. http://doi.org/10.1016/S0167-8140(16)32253-8

Smith, G., Robson, P., & Probst, H. (2016). EP-2078: PROSPECT: Phase 2 rescanning of seromas in patients to evaluate CTV reduction in breast cancer. Breast Cancer Research and Treatment, 119 (Supp1), S980. http://doi.org/10.1016/S0167-8140(16)33329-1

Williams, K., & Probst, H. (2016). Use of IV contrast media in pre-treatment radiotherapy planning CT scans: A UK study (Abstract only). Radiotherapy and Oncology, 119, S174-S175. http://doi.org/10.1016/S0167-8140(16)31623-1

Smith, G., Robson, P., & Probst, H. (2016). PROSPECT: Phase 2 rescanning of seromas in patients to evaluate CTV reduction in breast cancer (Abstract only). Radiotherapy and Oncology, 119, S980. http://doi.org/10.1016/S0167-8140(16)33329-1

Harris, R., Beardmore, C., Bolderston, A., James, S., Probst, H., Bennett, C., ... Wells, M. (2015). Practice Guidelines skin care advice for patients undergoing radical external beam megavoltage radiotherapy. RADIOTHERAPY AND ONCOLOGY, 115, S919.

Probst, H., Wright, C., Lindley, M., Walsh, S., Holland, T., & Sidway, S. (2013). Using mobile technology to develop research skills in clinically based allied health professionals. In UK Radiotherapy and Oncology (UKRO) Conference, East Midland Conference Centre, 21 October 2013 - 23 October 2013.

Probst, H., Eddy, A., & Garth, A. (2011). Supporting the Academic Development of Advanced Practice in Breast Cancer Radiotherapy. CLINICAL ONCOLOGY, 23 (3), S16. http://doi.org/10.1016/j.clon.2011.01.350

Probst, H., & Griffiths, S. (2007). Time for a change: Is it time to consider job redesign for therapy radiographers? CLINICAL ONCOLOGY, 19 (3), S43. http://doi.org/10.1016/j.clon.2007.01.410

Reports

Probst, H., & Burke, G. (2020). Radiation Dermatitis Guidelines for Radiotherapy Healthcare Professionals. College of Radiographers. https://www.sor.org/learning/document-library/radiation-dermatitis-guidelines-radiotherapy-healthcare-professionals

Probst, H., & Burke, G. (2020). Radiation Dermatitis Guidelines for Radiotherapy Healthcare Professionals. College of Radiographers. https://www.sor.org/learning/document-library/radiation-dermatitis-guidelines-radiotherapy-healthcare-professionals

Theses / Dissertations

Taylor, A.V. (2020). Defining compassion and compassionate behaviours in radiotherapy. (Doctoral thesis). Supervised by Robert, A., Hodgson, D., Burton, M., Collins, K., & Probst, H. http://doi.org/10.7190/shu-thesis-00373

Collins, M. (2018). Clinical reasoning in image guided radiotherapy: A multimethod study. (Doctoral thesis). Supervised by Probst, H. http://doi.org/10.7190/shu-thesis-00124

Patents

Stanton, A., Reed, H., & Probst, H. (2019). BRASSIERE WITH INFLATABLE BLADDER. GB20160010811 20160621. https://worldwide.espacenet.com/publicationDetails/biblio?DB=EPODOC&ND=5&locale=en_EP&FT=D&date=20191031&CC=GB&NR=2551534A&KC=A

Stanton, A., Reed, H., & Probst, H. (2019). BRASSIERE WITH INFLATABLE BLADDER. GB20160010811 20160621. https://worldwide.espacenet.com/publicationDetails/biblio?DB=EPODOC&ND=5&locale=en_EP&FT=D&date=20191031&CC=GB&NR=2551534A&KC=A

Internet Publications

Harris, R., Beardmore, C., Bolderston, A., Burke, G., James, S., & Probst, H. (2015). Skin care advice for patients undergoing radical external beam megavoltage radiotherapy. https://www.sor.org/learning/document-library/skin-care-advice-patients-undergoing-radical-external-beam-megavoltage-radiotherapy-0

Harris, R., Beardmore, C., Bolderston, A., Burke, G., James, S., & Probst, H. (2015). Skin care advice for patients undergoing radical external beam megavoltage radiotherapy. https://www.sor.org/learning/document-library/skin-care-advice-patients-undergoing-radical-external-beam-megavoltage-radiotherapy-0

Artefacts

Reed, H., Probst, H., & Stanton, A. (2018). Support 4 All Cancer therapy bra. https://lab4living.org.uk/projects/support4all/

Presentations

Probst, H. (2016). Support, Positioning and Organ Stabilisation during Breast Cancer Radiation Therapy : SuPPORT 4 All Study. Presented at: UK Radiation Oncology Conference, Liverpool, 2016

Posters

Probst, H. (2020). A randomised clinical feasibility trial of a breast immobilisation device: The SuPPORT 4 All (S4A) Project. Presented at: UK Imaging and Oncology Conference, Virtual, 2020

Hooton, R., & Probst, H. (2018). On-treatment imaging for breast irradiation: evaluating accuracy using MV vs. kV techniques. Presented at: Disease and diversity, ACC Liverpool, 2018

Rosbottom, K., Probst, H., Choppin, S., Bragg, C.M., Collins, K., Crank, H., ... Langley, J. (2016). Using 3D stereophotogrammetry to evaluate the stability, and positional accuracy of a breast immobilisation device. Presented at: UK Radiation Oncology Conference, Liverpool, 2016

Datasets

Probst, H. (n.d.). A support bra to improve accuracy of radiation therapy for women having treatment to the breast.. http://doi.org/10.1186/isrctn38272993

Other activities

Chair of the College of Radiographers (CoR) Research funding panel
Chair of the Breast Radiotherapy Interest Group (BRIG)
Co-chair of the CoR Research Network
Associate Editor of the Journal of Medical Radiation Sciences
Associate Editor of the Journal of Radiotherapy in Practice.

Postgraduate supervision

I supervise doctoral students studying aspects of cancer care, specifically breast cancer care, technical delivery of radiotherapy for breast cancer, or research to understand or improve cancer patient experiences of care.

Robert Appleyard, Developing spatial cognition of brain anatomy using an immersive virtual environment PhD

Media

Heidi is a reader in Radiotherapy and specialises in treatment for breast cancer. Her current research is looking at ways to improve the accuracy and reproducibility of breast irradiation whilst making sure the patient experience is as positive as possible. She also has an interest in developing resilience in the radiotherapy workforce in order to avoid emotional exhaustion (known as burnout).

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