de Souza Institute to use Artificial Intelligence in Latest Effort to Support Cancer Patients

June 17, 2019 | ,

TORONTO, ON – de Souza Institute is proud to announce that it has been awarded a $247,000 research grant to develop an artificial intelligence (AI)-based tool to enhance online psychosocial services for cancer patients. Drs. Yvonne Leung and Mary Jane Esplen lead the project that is supported by an interdisciplinary team with investigators from the University of Toronto and La Trobe University in Australia.

“We are very excited to be just one of the 10 worthy recipients. We thank the Ontario Institute for Cancer Research (OICR) and Cancer Care Ontario (CCO) Health Services Research Network for their confidence in our proposal” said Dr. Leung. “This innovative use of AI will allow us to respond more quickly to patient needs and match them with the most appropriate supportive services across Canada.”

The proposed AI tool will be used to support CancerChatCanada, a free-of-charge service which provides professional-led psychosocial support groups to Canadians affected by cancer. During each session the AI will analyze in real time chatroom text and alert group facilitators of potential mental health distress experienced by participants.

The AI assistance will be very useful for the therapist who leads the text-based group chat sessions virtually, and is not in visual contact with the participants. The goal is that the AI tool will help therapists better monitor and address mental health issues throughout the sessions. This project is one of the 10 successful projects in the 2019 Health Services Research Grant competition supported by the Ontario Institute for Cancer Research and Cancer Care Ontario through funding provided by the Government of Ontario.

About de Souza Institute

Established in 2008, de Souza Institute is a part of the University Health Network and partners with provincial cancer agencies across Canada. It was originally funded by Ontario’s Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care to provide ongoing educational support, professional development and career counselling to health care professionals caring for cancer patients and families. de Souza Institute is providing cancer care excellence by: delivering innovative continuing education and mentorship programs; helping nurses to achieve national specialty certification; funding graduate scholarships to develop tomorrow’s leaders, and supporting in self-care and career development among health care professionals. To learn more about de Souza Institute visit

de Souza Interprofessional Competency Framework Published

June 17, 2019 | ,

As the demand in cancer care continues to increase, health systems require a workforce of highly educated specialists and generalists to provide the continuity of care across settings. To help address this need, de Souza Institute initiated an interdisciplinary working group to develop a competency framework with relevance across regulated cancer care health professionals.

The de Souza Interprofessional Competency framework developed by this working group has just been published in the journal Supportive Care in Cancer. This trailblazing framework provides a set of shared competencies as well as a novice to expert pathway for clinicians across disciplines. It also supports a more standardized and comprehensive learning approach by organizing professional development towards a coordinated, high quality, and person-centered care.

We are using this approach to guide all our contracts and professional development at de Souza Institute. Our ultimate goal is to continue supporting all health professionals by helping them enhance their knowledge and skills so that they can support their patients.

National Nursing Week and National Hospice Palliative Care Week 2019

May 8, 2019 |

With each and every shift, nurses deliver critical care to their patients, provide emotional support to families and friends, and work with the care team and community partners to coordinate care delivery. It would be impossible to imagine what life and our community would be like without nurses.

This week is not only Nursing Week but also Hospice and Palliative Care Week! Nurses assist patients and families with the management of debilitating symptoms, and start timely discussions around advance care planning and psychosocial support to maximize quality of life.

Nursing Week gives us an opportunity to recognize all the extraordinary work nurses do and provide the support they need to manage increasingly complex clinical situations.

Find out more about this year’s National Nursing Week theme “Nurses: A Voice to Lead – Health for All” on the CNA-AIIC website

Read more about this year’s National Hospice Palliative Care week theme “Busting the Myths” on the CHPCA website

Cheryl Page, de Souza APN Fellowship Project published by the Canadian Oncology Nursing Journal

April 25, 2019 |

Congratulations to Cheryl Page who achieved her de Souza APN designation in 2018. Her designation fellowship project “Evaluating the effectiveness of a mnemonic to guide staff when providing patient education to autologous hematopoietic stem cell transplant patients”, is published by the Canadian Oncology Nursing Journal in April 2019. Read more at:

Oncology Nursing Day 2019 Message

April 2, 2019 |

Today is Oncology Nursing Day, a celebration of achievements beyond one profession. There are countless people to honour, an endless list of stories to be heard and a limitless number of people who have been helped by oncology nurses.  The theme this year is “Celebrating our Diversity”, an appropriate theme for #OND2019. de Souza Institute … Read more

Innovative APAM Course Proves to be Difference Maker for Oncology Nurses

March 25, 2019 | ,

Toronto, ON – As published in the American Journal of Hospice and Palliative Medicine, the research led by Dr. Yvonne Leung, a Scientist at de Souza and Assistant Professor at the Department of Psychiatry, University of Toronto in Canada reveals that the Advanced Pain Assessment and Management (APAM) online program significantly increased nurses’ confidence and … Read more