Dr. Sweeny is a social psychologist by training, but she applies the theories and methods of social psychology to address patients' experiences with their health and healthcare. Over the years, her work has examined topics ranging from bad news delivery to physician-patient communication to screening decisions. Her current research program focuses on the stressful but understudied experience of awaiting uncertain news, including news about one's health. She developed the uncertainty navigation model as a theoretical framework for understanding the thoughts, feelings, and behaviors that emerge during the wait for health-relevant news. Her work has provided broad and novel insights into this difficult experience, including how waiting experiences unfold over time, the nature of distress during waiting periods, the relative effectiveness of various strategies people can use to cope with uncertainty, and the implications of stressful waiting periods for sleep and health.
Dr. Sweeny’s work has been funded by the National Science Foundation and published in top journals, including Annals of Behavioral Medicine, Health Psychology Review, Journal of Personality & Social Psychology, Psychological Bulletin, and Psychological Science. She received the inaugural Early Career Award from the Social Personality Health Network, and in 2016 she was awarded the APA Distinguished Scientific Award for an Early Career Contribution to Health Psychology. In her other life, Dr. Sweeny is a Middle Eastern dance performer and instructor, a yoga enthusiast, and an avid hiker.