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Research

Evaluation on Education Impact

de Souza Institute has incorporated a strong evaluation component to assess its educational effectiveness since its inception.  A systematic documentation of user population, a comprehensive set of teaching methods and a detailed outcome evaluation process were implemented.

Guided by the research framework1, the evaluation approach focuses on the impact of the de Souza Institute educational activities:

  1. How well do de Souza courses advance learner knowledge and confidence in terms of evidence based activities
  2. How do various teaching method(s) meet the needs of different learner populations-across generations, practice settings and geographic?
  3. Do any of de Souza educational activities affect “measurable” clinical practices and subsequently patient outcome?  If so, what are the key “change agents”?

Knowledge Translation Research

Improving distress management knowledge and skills for oncology nurses

  • Principal Investigator (PI): Dr. Deborah McLeod, Nova Scotia Cancer Centre
  • Co-PI: Dr. Mary Jane Esplen, de Souza Institute, University Health Network
  • Co-Inv (UHN site): Drs Doris Howell, Jiahui Wong
  • Other 4 participating sites: see webpage
  • Funding Source: CIHR, CPAC

Effective management of cancer related distress is an important issue given that 30-45% of cancer patients experience clinically significant levels of distress.  Over the past 2-3 years, the Canadian Association of Psychosocial Oncology, with the support of the Canadian Partnership Against Cancer, developed several clinical practice guidelines (CPGs) to guide oncology health care professionals in distress management (Howell et al., 2009, 2010, 2011, 2015). Nurses can be, and often are, key players in assessing and intervening with distress, particularly when distress is mild to moderate. However, nurses often express lack of confidence and skill in assessing and responding to distress and may be inclined to refer to other health care professionals rather than intervening themselves.

The Distress Management project will implement an innovative, comprehensive knowledge translation intervention – the Therapeutic Practices for Distress Management (TDPM) education program – that focuses on supporting the integration of four clinical practice guidelines for cancer related distress management into clinical practice. The project is currently being evaluated at six Canadian centres on its effectiveness in improving nurses’ distress management skills.

Patient Portal

Cancer Chat Canada

  • Project Leader: Dr. Mary Jane Esplen, de Souza Institute, University Health Network
  • Partner Agencies: BC Cancer Agency, Saskatchewan Cancer Agency, Cancer Care Manitoba, Sudbury Regional Health Science Centre, North East Cancer Centre, Université Laval, Cancer Care Ontario
  • Funding Source: CPAC

Living with cancer is distressing to many patients and caregivers.  Psycho-social interventions are shown to be effective in reducing distress and improving quality of life. However, many patients and families do not have access to such interventions because they live in a rural area or have a busy schedule of medical appointments or caregiving duties. Internet delivered online support groups (OSGs) represents a promising alternative for delivering psychosocial interventions.

Located at de Souza Institute, Cancer Chat provides free and professionally-led online support groups for Canadians affected by cancer, including patients, survivors and family members.  Cancer Chat online support groups are structured to provide emotional support and a place to safely discuss personal topics. All participants log in at the same time to take part in the discussion. Groups meet once a week for 90 minutes, for about 10 to 12 weeks, in a live “chat” room on the Internet.

Cancer Chat will include the effectiveness of OSGs for different cancer populations, the acceptance and participation rate, as well as patient satisfaction from participating in OSGs within the de Souza Institute patient portal.

Return to work following cancer: Translating research findings through the creation of a return to work website for cancer patients, cancer survivors, health care professionals, and employers

  • Principal Investigator (PI): Ms. Christine Maheu McGill University
  • Co-PI: Ms. Maureen Parkinson, BC Cancer Agency
  • Team members (UHN site): Dr. Mary Jane Esplen, Mathew Gangarz, de Souza Institute.
  • Other Team members: see website
  • Funding Source: CPAC

Returning to work for cancer survivors is a process that presents many challenges. Sixty percent will return 1–2 years following their cancer experience and 25%–53% will quit or lose their jobs. These staggering numbers are a clear indication that there is a great need for clear, comprehensive information on return to work (RTW).

CancerandWork.ca is a site created by Dr. Christine Maheu (McGill University) and Ms. Maureen Parkinson (BCCA) in partnership with de Souza Institute, with funding provided by the Canadian Partnership Against Cancer (CPAC).  The website includes best practice resources and assessment tools prepared by an interdisciplinary team of experts. It covers a broad range of topic areas in the medical, human resources, legal and insurance fields to help all stakeholders involved in the RTW process.

An extensive array of academic and community of practice (CoP) partnerships have been created to support the dissemination and uptake of the website to stakeholders.  The CancerandWork.ca website will be launched in fall 2016 to help inform survivors, healthcare practitioners and employers, and will lend support and assistance to cancer survivors so that they may achieve a successful RTW after cancer.


1 Oandasan, I et al. (2004) Interdisiplary Education for Collaborative, Patient-Centred Practice, Research and Findings Report. Health Canada, Ottawa