Meet our Researchers - Finding the Answers that help ISCRR make a difference

Dr Dianne Sheppard is a Research Fellow at the Monash Injury Research Institute of Monash University. Her research focuses on injury outcomes which she particularly enjoys due to the direct application of the findings of research into novel interventions, changes within systems, and policy. 

Title: Research Fellow
Department: Monash Injury Research Institute (MIRI)
University: Monash University

Dr Dianne Sheppard is one of over 80 researchers who make up the ISCRR research network.

How long have you worked for MIRI? Since 1999 as a post-doctorate researcher - that's not including my time as a PhD student and Research Assistant.

Where were you based prior to starting at MIRI?I was based in the School of Psychology and Psychiatry, Monash University as a Senior Lecturer.

What attracted you to this type of research?
I was looking for a change and a challenge. I'd had enough of teaching now, and wanted to get back into research. I was not going to be given that opportunity within the School of Psychology, so I left. I saw a position advertised at MIRI and here I am.

What do you like best about your role?I really enjoy the direct application of the findings of research in the area of injury outcomes. I like the idea that the findings of most studies/projects (however small) are far more easily translated into novel interventions, changes within systems, and policy.

First job?
Waitress at a wedding reception centre! Well, we all have to start somewhere!

Worst job?Probably that first job! Since graduating with my PhD I have thoroughly enjoyed the journey...Tutoring first year psychology students had its moments I guess.

What research/projects are you currently working on and what does it involve?
I am working on a few projects at present. The first is a randomised controlled trial with ISCRR's Professor Niki Ellis that is currently nearing completion. The project has focused on looking at the efficacy of self-management to improve rates of return to work (RTW) and the time taken for those with chronic work-related compensated injuries to return to work. The trial has involved recruiting injured workers and then randomly allocating those workers into either the self-management intervention or usual care group. It is a very challenging and interesting project.

The second is a project that has been instigated by WorkSafe to look at how worker's compensation and other such organisations communicate with their clients and how that communication, particularly the written elements, could be improved. The project has involved developing an online survey, from which I am currently collecting and collating data.

What was the most fulfilling piece of research you completed?
I think that I am still searching for that. I have enjoyed my research 'journey' so far, but am currently changing fields and developing my own area of research within injury outcomes. I am hoping that this more applied field of research gives me the satisfaction that I am searching for as a researcher. I like to be able to see that the research that I am conducting actually makes a difference.

How is your research benefiting WorkSafe and the TAC?
Both projects that I am working on aim to improve the experience and/or outcomes for compensated injured workers for WorkSafe.

What is your favourite thing to do on the weekend?Spending time with my family. My husband and I have two gorgeous daughters, 5 and 8 years of age.

What is the best piece of advice you've been given, and what would you give?

"You make your own luck." In terms of career-related advice, this translates to not being content just doing what you are currently doing. If you don't enjoy it, then don't waste precious time. Start making decisions that get you closer to something that you will enjoy doing as a career.