About Dr Karen Scott

I conduct and supervise research in two main areas: in digital health literacy research, which explores how young people and parents search for, appraise and use digital health information and how they communicate about it with health professionals; in health professional education research, my interest is in technology enhanced learning, the nature of student learning and teacher development, development of education research capacity and the culture of healthcare settings

I have a broad research program in Education in the child and adolescent health setting. My research expands our understandings of the digital health literacy of adolescents and their ability to find trustworthy digital health information, and the way they act on that information, including through communication with physicians about the information they find. I have conveyed my research to consumers and health professionals through a commissioned article in The Conversation, a fact sheet for the NHMRC Centre for Research Excellence Wellbeing Health & Youth, an article for general practitioners in GP news, a University of Sydney video on YouTube and Facebook, and several national radio interviews and newspaper articles. My research has directly informed the development of an extensive website to support teenagers with bladder and bowel concerns, developed by the Continence Foundation of Australia, and contributed to the work of the National Collaborative Network for Child Health Informatics in developing online health information and services for children and adolescents.

My research into the education of medical students and health professionals focuses on self-directed technology-enhanced learning (TEL), including through interactive activities, videos and apps. This research is generating change in the beliefs and practices of teachers in their use of TEL. It has directly translated into my teaching practice, leading to substantial redevelopment of the Child and Adolescent Health block of Sydney Medical Program, with corresponding evaluation research, which has informed redevelopment in other medical and surgical blocks in the Medical Program. My research has directly translated into my practice of capacity building health professionals who teach on the Child and Adolescent Health block. This has further improved learning and teaching on the block and led to changes in other undergraduate programs in the University, the teaching of junior doctors and health professionals across a range of paediatric sub-specialties, and the teaching of a national and international professional development course in child and adolescent health. 

My sociological research into the culture of healthcare settings has had a significant impact on the field. The research has been translated directly into practice nationally, following extensive media coverage. This has included ABC's Four Corners, for which my research provided background material, and numerous national radio interviews and newspaper reviews. My work has informed the development of policies and processes that are now in place at the state and national level to prevent bullying and mistreatment of medical students and junior medical staff through implementation of improved supervision, assessment and reporting, and workshops for students and staff. My research colleagues and I created a verbatim theatre production, ‘Grace Under Pressure', through qualitative research with health professionals, which was performed at Sydney's Seymour Centre in 2017. ‘Grace Under Pressure' was subsequently performed at four Sydney hospitals in 2017, Lismore hospital in 2018 and state-wide in 2019. There will be a national tour in 2020. We have also presented a range of hands-on workshops with video-based educational materials.

Selected publications

Benedicta, Caldwell PHY & Scott KM. How parents use, search for and appraise online health information on their child's medical condition: A pilot study. Journal of Paediatrics and Child Health. 2019: Early view - https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/jpc.14575
Freeman JL, Caldwell PHY, Bennett T & Scott KM. How adolescents search for and appraise online health information: a systematic review. The Journal of Pediatrics. 2018: 195: 244-55.
Scott KM, Caldwell PHY, Kang M, McCaffrey K & Skinner SR. Adolescents' use of Dr Google: Help or hindrance? Journal of Paediatrics and Child Health. 2018: 54,11: 1282-1283.

Yardi S, Caldwell PHY, Barnes EH & Scott KM. Determining parents' patterns of behaviour when searching for online information on their child's health. Journal of Paediatrics and Child Health. 2018: 54,11: 1246-1254.

Scott KM & Caldwell PHY. Looking online for info on your child's health? Here are some tips. The Conversation; 11 June 2018. Available from: https://theconversation.com/looking-online-for-info-on-your-childs-health-here-are-some-tips-97701

Harrison A, Nerminathan A, Phelps M, Alexander S & Scott KM. Factors underlying students' decisions to use mobile devices in clinical settings. British Journal of Educational Technology. 2019: 50,2: 531-545.

Scott KM, Baur L & Barrett J. Evidence-based principles for using technology-enhanced learning in the continuing professional development of health professionals. Journal of Continuing Education in the Health Professions. 2017: 37, 1: 61-66.

Scott KM, Morris A & Marais BJ. Lecture attendance and use of digital recordings in medical training. Medical Journal of Australia. 2016: 204, 11: 411-412.

Scott KM. Change in university teachers' elearning beliefs and practices: A longitudinal study. Studies in Higher Education. 2016: 41, 3: 582-598.

Scott KM, Caldwell PHY, Barnes E & Barrett J. ‘Teaching by humiliation' and mistreatment of medical students in clinical rotations: a pilot study. Medical Journal of Australia. 2015: 203, 4: 185e.1-6.