Doris Howell

Senior Scientist at University Health Network

Dr Doris Howell, RN, PhD is the RBC Chair in Oncology Nursing Research and Education at University Health Network. She is a Senior Scientist with the Division of Psychosocial Oncology and Palliative Care at the Ontario Cancer Institute,  Adjunct Scientist at the Division of Preventive Oncology, Cancer Care Ontario;  and an Adjunct Scientist with the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences (ICES); and an Affiliate Scientist with ELLICSR: Health, Wellness & Cancer Survivorship Centre .  She is the Co-Director of the Ontario Patient Reported Outcomes Symptoms and Toxicity Applied Research Unit.  Dr. Howell is an Associate Professor, Lawrence Bloomberg Faculty of Nursing, University of Toronto and cross-appointed to U of T’s Dalla Lana School of Public Health and its Department of Health Policy, Management and Evaluation within the Faculty of Medicine.

Dr. Howell’s program of research is focused on reducing the burden of complex cancer symptoms such as fatigue, breathlessness and pain and symptom clusters across the cancer trajectory through symptom intervention trials. To inform intervention trials she has focused on understanding  the role of psychological factors, particularly the role of symptom perception and interpretation on symptom outcomes and behaviours and how these might be modified through behavioural self-management interventions (i.e. improved self-efficacy, better self-regulation, and reduced symptom distress, etc.). Additionally, Dr. Howell leads implementation science mixed-method research on the integration of survivorship care planning and patient-reported outcome data in routine oncology practice with an emphasis on patient activation in self-management and improving the quality of patient experience. As the Advisory Group Chair for Patient-Reported Outcomes (PRO) for Cancer Care Ontario, Dr. Howell has led the application and evaluation of routine PRO data in electronic information systems and is also testing the utility and acceptability of generic and disease specific PROs in routine practice as Co-Director of On-PROST.

Dr. Howell’s work involves advancing personalized cancer medicine through research, national leadership, academic contributions, innovative initiatives and education and received numerous recognitions and awards in recognition of her outstanding achievements and contribution to the health system including the Canadian Association of Psychosocial Oncology Award for Educational Excellence in 2012 for her leadership role in the development of Pan-Canadian clinical practice guidelines for the management of physical symptoms and emotional distress in cancer.


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