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Sue Dean


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Sue Dean is a lecturer in the Faculty of Health at UTS. Sue is a social worker and a registered nurse with clinical experience in hospital-based, community-based and primary health care services, particularly in the area of mental health. She maintains her clinical practice working with women who have substance-use disorders.

Sue has a wide-ranging experience in the tertiary education sector in nursing and social work at The University of Sydney, the University of Western Sydney and Charles Sturt University.

Sue’s teaching and research expertise is in the area of communication, in particular, interpersonal communication for health care professionals.  She is interested in the development of empathic and caring behaviors and is currently researching teaching and learning strategies to develop caring behaviors through mindfulness in compassionate pedagogy.


Member of Course Advisory Committee - Bachelor Of Health Science Traditional Chinese MedicineAssociate Member - Australian Research
Member Health Policy Committee NSW ALP
Member of Diabetes Australia (NSW) Ad Hoc advisory panel for matters relating to education
Reviewer for "Nursing Enquiry"
Consultant to "Diabetes Living"
Member of Women at UTS

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Lecturer, Faculty of Health
Associate Member, Australian Research Centre in Complementary and Integrative Medicine (ARCCIM)
Core Member, CHSP - Health Services and Practice
RN, BA (RCAE), GradDipAdultEd (UNE), GradDipAppSc (SCAE), MA (UNSW)
+61 2 9514 4812

Research Interests

Research expertise

  • Teaching and learning strategies for communication to health care students
  • Mindfulness in compassionate pedagogies
  • Development of empathy as fundamental to effective patient/health care professionals' relationships
  • Women and substance use disorders management

Can supervise: Yes

Areas of supervision

  • Women and substance abuse disorders
  • Interpersonal communication teaching and learning
  • Mindfulness in compassionate pedagogy
  • The development of empathy, caring and compassionate behaviours in health care professionals

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  • Nursing relationships, interactions and management
  • Therapeutic communication
  • Women's Health


  • 2015 - Enhancing self-care skills of first year nursing students by incorporating mindfulness based experiences into curricula. Funded by UTS Vice-Chancellor’s Learning and Teaching Grants 2015. ($4000)
  • 2015 - Supporting students as they transition to tertiary study through mindfulness in compassionate pedagogy. First Year Experience (FYE) grants embedding transition pedagogies in the curriculum. ($1000)
  • 2014 - Practising on plastic people: can I really care? (unfunded)
  • 2014 - current. Mind full or mindful – opening minds in the university classroom. (unfunded).
  • 2014 - Learning 2014 Festival Grant Sue Dean (Lead) & Tamara Power Communication and Diversity: Learning 2014 resource development $1000
  • 2013 - Sue Dean (Lead) Sean Walsh “Talk to them”: A pilot audio visual online resource to develop student’s therapeutic interviewing skills. Funded by UTS Vice-Chancellor’s learning and Teaching Grants: Small Grants 2013 ($9000).


Dean, S.J. 2016, 'Is the technology push in nurses education taking precedence over the development of empathic, caring and compassionate behaviours?', The 3rd Global Meeting of the Empathy Project, Mansfield College, Oxford University.
Dean, S. 2015, 'Mindfulness as self-care', Student conference - Oxford Brookes University, Oxford, UK.
Dean, S., Power, T., Balnaves, M. & Williams, C. 2015, ''Living Doll'', International Conference on Information, Communication, Technologies in Education, Kos, Greece.
Dean, S., Zaslawski, C. & Pappas, E. 2015, 'Mindful empathy', 9th International Conference on Teaching, Education and Learning (ICTEL), Bangkok, Thailand.
Dean, S.J. & Slavik, C. 2014, 'Keeping minds open', Ninth International Conference on Interdisciplinary Social Sciences, University of British Columbis, Vancouver.
Dean, S.J., Power, T., Balnaves, M. & Williams, C. 2014, 'Practicing on plastic people: Can I really care?', Ninth International Conference on Interdisciplinary Social Sciences, University of British Columbia, Vancouver..
Foureur, M. & Yu, N. 2014, 'Mindful or mind full: Opening minds in the university classroom', International conference: Mindfulness, Education and Transformation, Nan Thien Institute, Berkley.
Dean, S., Foureur, M. & Yu, N. 2014, 'Mindful or mind full: opening minds in the University classroom', International conference Mindfulness, Education and Transformation, Nan Thien Institute, Berkley.
Dawson, A., Pritchard, C., Dean, S., Robertson, J. & Jackson, D.E. 2013, 'Collaborative approaches to addressing the complex needs of women with post traumatic stress disorder and substance use disorder.', PHAA National Social Inclusion and Complex Needs Conference, PHAA National Social Inclusion and Complex Needs Conference, Public Health Association, Canberra, ACT, Australia, pp. 28-28.
In Australia, the health, social and economic burden of alcohol and drug dependence is profound. Women's substance use problems are highly stigmatized and often not acknowledged. Pregnant and parenting women face particular societal condemnation and encounter multiple systemic barriers that delay treatment seeking with women fearing consequences for them and their children. Rates of comorbid post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and substance use disorder (SUD) are higher for women than men and are associated with trauma related to sexual abuse and family violence. Little research has been undertaken internationally or in Australia to determine the most effective treatment for women with PTSD and SUD. Given the high incidence of PTSD co morbidity, it is critical that treatment models accommodate the complex needs of these women and draw upon integrated services requiring multiple service providers and professionals. This paper reports on the trial of a unique program for women with SUD and PTSD at Jarrah House, a residential medical detoxification and rehabilitation NGO program for women and their children. Early findings show encouraging increases in client quality of life scores and insight into how the program has empowered women to make life changes and plan their recovery supported by various providers.
Dean, S., Dawson, A. & Jackson, D.E. 2013, 'Towards gender responsive treatment for substance abuse disorder: issues for consideration when providing services.', 8th International Conference on Interdisciplinary Social Sciences., Prague, Czech Republic..
In Australia the health, social and economic burden of female alcohol and drug dependence is profound. Women's substance use problems are more stigmatized, less likely to be acknowledged than men's, pregnant and parenting women face particular societal condemnation and encounter multiple systemic treatment barriers and they often delay seeking treatment services for fear of the consequences for them and their children. This particularly applies for Government agencies and women often feel more supported in seeking treatment programs in the NGO sector. International studies have documented high rates of comorbid post-traumatic stress disorders (PTSD) and substance abuse disorders for men and for women although the rates appear to be higher for women and typically stem from different trauma. The relationship between PTSD and substance abuse disorders tells us very different stories in men and women and the social determinants and coocurring life problems are often very different with women experiencing issues with children more frequently than men. There is very little research internationally or Australia to determine what is the best type of treatment for women with PTSD and substance use disorders. Given the high incidence of this comorbidity, treatment models that do not address this critical issue may not be successful. This paper reports on a unique program being trialled in a residential medical detoxification and rehabilitation program for women and their children in NSW. Jarrah House is part of the NGO sector and it's mission is to promote the empowerment, health and well-being of women and children by providing an effective and therapeutic gender responsive drug and alcohol treatment service. The program being trialled is an integrated program addressing both trauma and substance use and is the focus of this paper.
Dean, S., Jackson, D.E. & Dawson, A. 2012, 'The Impact of Short Term Residential Treatment Programs for Women Withdrawing from Alcohol and Other Drugs in Australia', International Council on Women's Health Issues (ICOWHI), Bangkok, Thailand..
Objectives: To determine the impact of short term residential treatment programs for women withdrawing from alcohol and other drugs in Australia. Methods: In this first phase of a longitudinal study of women (n=80) in a residential treatment program in NSW women were invited to complete questionnaires to measure quality of life, psychological health and confidence in their ability to abstain at the commencement of the 21 day program following a physical detoxification; after the 21 day program had concluded; and again at 42 days if they repeated the program cycle. The women completed questionnaires on quality of life, WHO-8: EUROHIS, psychological health Kessler -10 Plus and confidence to abstain from alcohol and other drugs. Results: Preliminary results indicate that outcomes were positive on all scales after completing the 21 day program with no marked difference when women repeated the program and remained in the program for a further 21 days. Conclusion: Residential treatment programs specifically for women withdrawing from alcohol and other drugs are scarce in Australia and in fact internationally. There are huge waiting lists for these types of services. Given the long waiting lists for treatment services, the chance of relapse following women making the initial call to self refer to a program and the long wait for admission to a service, the fact that women are often separated from their children, communities and social supports, taken out out of employment, the high cost of residential treatments particularly if they involve clinical input for detoxification, it would seem pertinent that more data are available on time in treatment as a predictor of outcomes. Whilst some literature seems to suggest that the longer time spent in treatment is a good predictor of good outcomes for some client groups there is little information available on the impact of short term programs as a predictor of good outcomes (Ross et al 2004). Results from this study will be use...
Dean, S. & Adams, J. 2012, '"Talk to them"; an exploratory study of the challenges of teaching communication skills.', The International Institute of Social and Economic Sciences, Dubrovnik, Croatia.
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Communication skills are fundamental in therapeutic communication and there is overwhelming evidence that communication is a key element in producing positive outcomes for health care workers and patients (Anderson et al. 2007). Potential barriers to effective therapeutic communication include poor communication skills on the part of the health care professional (Greenburg et al.2006). This paper reports on the first stage of a larger study and assessed an educational initiative that teaches communication skills to students in a Traditional Chinese Medical degree program (TCM). A pre course survey was completed by 37 of 41 students enrolled in a communication subject in the first year of their 4 year degree program. A further survey will be completed at the end of the course where students will be asked about their course experience and the data will be evaluated for parallel responses to determine what students thought about the teaching and learning of communication skills before and after the course. Further, communication competence is assessed using the Kalamazoo Consensus Statement (KCS) (Acad Med. 2004) and patient feedback data is collected. This is then evaluated against the pre and post course surveys completed by the students. A limitation of this study is that it was conducted in one TCM program but it is a preliminary study and will serve as a basis for further studies to increase the valuing of teaching communication skills and how to ensure the skills taught in the first year of a prgram can be applied and evaluated in clinical practice during the program and beyond. The use of complementary medicine is said to be increasing worldwide (White. 2000) and one of the reasons proposed for patients using complementary therapists instead of conventional doctors is they believe complementary therapists are better communicators (White. 2000). A challenge for faculty is to evaluate the effect of curricular innovations such as the teaching of communication s...
Dean, S.J. 2010, 'Increasing opportunities for collaborative learning in interdisciplinary teams', The 2nd International Conference on Education, Economy and Society, Paris, France.
Dean, S.J. 2009, 'The ascent of narcissism in contemporary daily life.', The 7th International Conference on the Humanities, Beijing, China.
Dean, S. 2007, '"Sweet Practice" - diabetes short courses and their effectiveness in contributing to chronic disease management in general practice.', International Nursing Conference, ShangHai, China.
Dean, S. 2006, '"GP's Do Deals on Patient Drugs".', The International Nursing Conference on Prevention and Managment of Chronic Conditions: International perspectives, Bangkok, Thailand.
Knight, E. & Dean, S. 2006, 'Why aren't GP's utilising Chronic Disease Managment item numbers?', Australian General Practice Nurse Conference, Gold Coast, Queensland.
Dean, S. 2005, 'Reality bites', Sigma Theta Tau International Joint Southern California Chapters Nursing Research Conference, Los Angeles, United States.
Dean, S. 2005, 'Sweet Money? Drug company sponsored courses.', Joint Southern California STTI Chapters Nursing Research Conference., Los Angeles, California.

Journal articles

Dean, S.J., Foureur, M., Zaslawski, C., Newton-John, T., Yu, N. & Pappas, E. 2017, 'The effects of a structured mindfulness program on the development of empathy in healthcare students', NursingPlus Open, vol. 3, pp. 1-5.
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Dean, S., Williams, C. & Balnaves, M. 2016, 'Living dolls and nurses without empathy.', Journal of advanced nursing.
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Dean, S., Lewis, J. & Ferguson, C. 2016, 'Is technology responsible for nurses losing touch?', Journal of Clinical Nursing.
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Dean, S.J., Williams, C. & Balnaves, M. 2016, 'Practising on plastic people: Can I really care?', Contemporary Nurse, vol. 51, no. 2-3, pp. 257-271.
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Dean, S.J., Zaslawski, C., Roche, M. & Adams, J. 2016, '"Talk to Them": Teaching communication skills to students of traditional chinese medicine.', Journal of Nursing Education and Practice, vol. 6, no. 12, pp. 49-56.
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Objective: To explore students' perceptions of the efficacy and value of teaching communication skills in a health professional course for Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). Methods: Individual surveys were used to evaluate students' self-assessment of their communication skills pre and post a communication subject in a four-year degree course in a Bachelor of Health Science in TCM at a large metropolitan university in Australia. Quantitative and qualitative data were collected. Results: Findings indicate that students recognise the need for good communication skills training as part of their professional training and self-reported that their communication skills improved following a semester of study of a communication subject. Conclusions: One of the primary components driving increasing demand for complementary and alternative medicine (CAM), which includes TCM, is that consumers place a high value on effective communication and quality engagement with their CAM provider. Communication skills are often seen as the cornerstone of good health care practice, patient recovery and practitioner job satisfaction. Implementing a focused communication skills component in health professional educational programs, including those for TCM, is therefore essential. Further research is needed to explore the retention of these skills throughout health professionals' degree programs and after graduation and clinical experience, to evaluate the effectiveness and sustainability of personal communication skills education. Practice implications: Communication skills training should be incorporated into health care profession curricula, early in the program and integrated with clinical exposure.
Dean, S.J. & McAllister, M. 2016, 'How education must awaken empathy', Journal of Advanced Nursing.
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Dawson, A., Pritchard, C., Dean, S. & Jackson, D.E. 2014, 'Towards Gender-responsive, Trauma-informed Care for Substance Use Disorders and PTSD: Evidence to Inform Non-government Services in Australia', The International Journal of Interdisciplinary Social and Community Studies, vol. 8, no. 1, pp. 67-91.
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Trauma-informed care assumes an understanding of trauma is integrated in all aspects of service delivery and care. In women with substance use disorders (SUD) and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), the disorders are treated simultaneously. Existing evidence in this sector points to the need for a gender-specific program approach to drug and alcohol disorders and health workers who have the knowledge, skills, expertise, and confidence to deliver these programs for women. The objective of this review is to identify characteristics associated with outcomes for SUD and PTSD and the experiences and needs of women in treatment contexts. A narrative synthesis of peer-reviewed literature from 2003 to 2013 was undertaken, with retrieved documents assessed using an inclusion/exclusion criterion and quality appraisal guided by critical assessment tools. Concepts were analysed thematically. Eleven papers were found that related to the topic under study. This review found that trauma-informed care models can lead to reduced alcohol and drug severity symptoms, improved abstinence rates, and reduced PTSD symptoms. However, a trauma-informed approach may be the most beneficial for women with severe SUD and PTSD symptoms. Trauma-informed care appears to be a promising treatment for women with SUD and PTSD. However, this appears to be mediated by client baseline characteristics and treatment program composition. This highlights the need for proper baseline assessment and flexible treatment programming delivered by a well-supported workforce.
Cleary, M., Dean, S., Webster, S., Walter, G., Escott, P. & Lopez, V. 2014, 'Primary health care in the mental health workplace: Insights from the Australian experience', Issues in Mental Health Nursing, vol. 35, pp. 437-443.
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In Australia, Primary Health Care and themental health sector have always shared a philosophy. In 1978, Primary Health Care was first put forward as a strategy to improve 'health for all.' Recently, the Australian Government included mental health as a national health priority, identifying six strategies co sistent with a Primary Health Care approach to address the mental health of all Australians. Throughout this time, Primary Health Care has been highlighted in all models of care. However, in reality, it appears that in mental health services, mental health nurses, despite good intentions, are not delivering care in a planned or systematised way and that much needs to be done to further improve the situation for individuals accessing the health care system. Services currently focus on those identified as seriously mentally unwell; in order to really make an impact it is argued that services should be broader, offered to the population at large and, further, that the emphasis on case work at an individual level should be changed to an approach that considers prevention, maintenance, and follow-up as well as crisis intervention. This article reflects the Australian experience and offers some insights from that experience.
Dawson, A., Pritchard, C., Dean, S. & Jackson, D. 2014, 'Trauma Informed Treatment for women with SUD and PTSD: Evidence to inform NGO programs in Australia', The International Journal of Interdisciplinary Social and Community Studies, vol. 8, pp. 67-91.
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Jackson, D.E., Power, T.J., Dean, S., Potgieter, I.L. & Cleary, M. 2013, 'Supporting parents and parenting: An overview of data-based papers recently published in Contemporary Nurse', Contemporary Nurse, vol. 46, no. 2, pp. 142-147.
Jackson, D., Power, T., Dean, S., Potgieter, I. & Cleary, M. 2013, 'Supporting parents and parenting: An overview of data-based papers recently published in Contemporary Nurse.', Contemporary nurse.
Abstract Nurses have a crucial role in play in supporting parents and in delivering and referring parents to family-support services. In this editorial, we reflect on papers recently published in Contemporary Nurse. We sought to consider data-based papers on parenting published between 2008 and 2012 and elucidate the role/s and potential roles of nurses in enhancing and supporting parenting. Parenting is recognised as a crucial variable for achieving positive outcomes for children (Dawson et al 2012). Poor, inconsistent or abusive parenting is linked to poor outcomes (Griffin et al. 2000, Holt et al.2008, Patterson et al.1989), while consistent and effective parenting is associated with enhanced child outcomes (Lamb 2012, Landry et al.2001). In addition to being important to outcomes for children, perceived parenting quality is also important to parents themselves. Disrupted relationships between parents and their children have been identified as distressing and potentially damaging to both parties (Jackson 2000; East 2006, 2007; Power 2012).
Adams, Jackson, A. & Dean, S. 2009, 'The Ascent of Narcisissm in Contemporary Daily Life', The International Journal of the Humanities, vol. 7, no. 7, pp. 109-116.
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Dean, S. 2006, 'Cross Faculty Diabetes Education', Nursing Review, pp. 17-17.
Dean, S. 2005, 'Drive is on for Diabetes', Nursing Review, vol. Sept 2005, pp. 13-13.
Dean, S. 2005, 'Diabetes Educators Course -Going the Distance', Australian Diabetes Educator, vol. 8, no. 4, pp. 28-28.
Dean, S. & Ross, G. 1998, 'Whatever happened to those teeth?', Every Child, vol. 4, no. 1, pp. 21-21.
Dean, S. & Ross, G. 1997, 'Caring for young mouths', Every Child, vol. 1, no. Autumn, pp. 18-18.