Lawrence S. Bloomberg Faculty of Nursing

Doris Howell
RN, PhD

Professor – Status only (Primary)

“I want to be sure that individuals with cancer receive the highest quality of care to reduce the burden of living with this disease.”

Dr. Doris Howell has an extensive clinical background in cancer care. As a researcher, her main goal is to optimize the quality of cancer care and empower patients as co-producers of health and well-being. At U of T Nursing, Dr. Howell developed the Clinical Nursing Stream – Oncology curriculum in the master’s program.

A mixed-method researcher, Dr. Howell has two thematic research areas; they’re focused on health services outcomes effectiveness and clinical interventions in cancer populations. She uses patient-reported outcome data and translates evidence into better clinical care and/or testing models of care (that is, nurse-led, tailoring CDSM models to cancer, survivorship transition care).

Her clinical research aims to understand the role of a patient’s central perception and evaluation of complex symptoms – such as fatigue, pain and breathlessness – on symptom response and behaviour to inform the development of theory and behavioural self-management intervention trials.

Dr. Howell holds the RBC Chair, Oncology Nursing Research and Education, University Health Network. She is a Scientist with the Division of Psychosocial Oncology and Palliative Care at the Ontario Cancer Institute,  University Health Network. She is an Adjunct Scientist, Division of Preventive Oncology, Cancer Care Ontario;  and an Adjunct Scientist with the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences.  She is the Co-Director of the Ontario Patient Reported Outcomes Symptoms and Toxicity Applied Research Unit.  Dr. Howell is 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.

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  • Academic Credentials
    2004 – Postdoctoral Research Fellowship, McMaster University, Hamilton
    2003 – PHD, University of Toronto
    1983 – MScN, University of Toronto
    1979 – BScN, University of Ottawa
  • Publications
    Dr. Howell’s PubMed link is available here.

PhD Students / Trainees

Nicole Blackman

Factors Influencing Mammographic Screening Behaviours among Ontario’s First Nation Women Aged 40–69

Breast cancer is an increasing concern among the Aboriginal women of Canada. While the incidence rate for the disease remains lower than women in the general population, the survival rate is significantly worse. This is thought to result from low participation is screening modalities. A large amount of research has been conducted identifying influencing factors among women in the general population; however, little is known about the factors influencing Aboriginal women. The intent of this study is to provide some insight.

Shu-Liu Guo

Influence of Beliefs About Cancer Pain and Analgesics on Pain Experience Outcomes in Taiwanese Patients with Lung or Colorectal Cancer

This descriptive-correlational study is examining the cancer-related pain experiences of Taiwanese patients with lung or colorectal cancer. Previous studies have shown that a person’s beliefs about pain are developed through an integration of all related information, such as the characteristics of their cancer and pain, the perceived meaning of the pain (based on the cognitive representation of symptoms), emotional responses and the effects of pain treatment. This study is exploring the relationships among the beliefs about cancer pain and analgesics, use of analgesics and pain experience of Taiwanese patients with lung or colorectal cancer.

Prisco Salvador

PhD Student - Prisco Salvador

The Effect of Oral Cryotherapy Plus Systematic Oral Care on Oral Mucositis (OM) Severity in Breast Cancer Patients undergoing Chemotherapy

OM is a common and debilitating side effect of chemotherapy in breast cancer patients. It is described as an inflammation of the oral and oropharyngeal mucosa. Prisco Salvador’s study will examine the efficacy of an oral care intervention — oral cryotherapy followed by systematic oral care — in reducing the incidence and severity of chemotherapy-induced OM in breast cancer patients. Oral cryotherapy involves sucking on ice chips before, during and after chemotherapeutic drug infusions (60-minute duration). Systematic oral care consists of oral self-care activities, such as tooth brushing, mouth rinsing with baking soda mouthwash and flossing.

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