The Department of Supportive Care divisions are renowned for their multifaceted research and education initiatives. In 2021-2022 alone, staff will have ​attracted more than $10 million in funding from organizations such as the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, the Canadian Cancer Society and the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation. Our teams frequently publish in high impact, peer-reviewed publications and trainees have gone on to assume leadership roles in programs nationally and internationally.

The Department of Supportive Care has identified three main areas of focus for research:

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Cancer and the Brain

This theme is focused on the cognitive effects of cancer and its treatment on the brain. Establishing research linkages to investigators in Imaging and Neurosciences is also a priority in this theme.

  • Biopsychosocial Research: Interdisciplinary team members are studying the biological basis of certain side effects, for example, neurocognitive changes post chemotherapy and cancer related fatigue; determining prevalence of side effects in specific cancer populations at various time points, and assessing the effectiveness of psychoeducational interventions to ameliorate distress in the group setting.

Quality of Life and Survivorship

This area is focused on the evaluation of quality of life and the development and evaluation of interventions to improve quality of life in patients who are living with cancer.

  • Health Services Research: Interdisciplinary team members are studying the development and implementation of survivorship care plans, clinical systems approaches to self-management and new models of care delivery emphasizing transdisciplinary and self-management approaches.
  • Self-Management Research: This research and knowledge translation program takes research findings and makes them accessible to cancer survivors in programs that promote their adoption into day to day living. We are investigating a variety of approaches to promote behaviour change that include combinations of education, motivational techniques, self-management tools, and professional and peer support.

Advanced and Terminal Disease

Areas of focus for this theme includes the psychological and physical burden of disease and the development of novel interventions to relieve distress and to improve quality of life and burden of disease in patients with advanced and terminal disease.

  • Early Palliative Care: Research on this topic is focused on the effectiveness of early palliative care in patients with solid tumours, leukemia and other life-threatening illnesses. It is funded by the Canadian Cancer Society and the Canadian Institutes for Health Research, and outcomes include patient and caregiver quality of life, satisfaction with care, symptom control and physician-patient communication.
  • Managing Cancer and Living Meaningfully (CALM): A Novel, brief individual manualized psychotherapeutic intervention designed to alleviate depression and promote psychological growth in patients with metastatic cancer. Pilot research has demonstrated the value of this intervention and a randomized controlled trial evaluating the program’s effectiveness is currently underway. Learn more about the CALM research [opens in new window] »
  • Measurement and Construct Elucidation: This research theme is concerned with the development of tools that measure the 11 emotional wellbeing of patients and the identification of states most likely to respond to therapeutic intervention. The team at the Princess Margaret has developed a novel instrument, the Death and Dying Distress Scale, which holds promise to be a significant addition to the outcome measurement in palliative and psychosocial research interventions in patients with advanced terminal disease.
  • Psychological Distress and Supportive Care Needs in Patients with Acute Leukemia: Research in this area is aimed at further understanding the psychological and physical symptom impact of Acute Leukemia and determining the needs of this patient population.
  • Quality of Death and Dying and Bereavement Morbidity: Determining the quality of death and dying associated with the receipt of palliative care and evaluating the psychological distress of primary caregivers of advanced cancer patients.
  • The Assessment and Treatment of Pain in Patients with Advanced Disease and Delirium: This research is examining age differences in this population and developing novel strategies to assess pain in patients who are unable to communicate their distress.

Last reviewed: 6/12/2022
Last modified: 9/26/2023 11:14 AM
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