Psychosocial Oncology

Psychosocial oncology researchers, Dr. Christine Maheu and Dr. Melissa Henry
“Psychosocial oncology is a specialty in cancer care concerned with the understanding and treatment of the social, psychological, emotional, spiritual, and functional aspects of cancer, at all stages of the disease trajectory from prevention through to bereavement. Psychosocial oncology involves a whole-person approach to cancer care that addresses a range of human needs that can improve or optimize the best possible quality of life for individuals and their networks affected by cancer.” Canadian Association of Psychosocial Oncology (CAPO)

The Gerald Bronfman Department of Oncology’s Psychosocial Oncology Program was created in 2003 (Inaugural Director: Dr. Zeev Rosberger, 2003-2013) to develop research capacity in the field, encourage recruitment of psychosocial oncology researchers and train graduate students and postdoctoral fellows in this specialty. In 2009 Christine and Herschel Victor as well as Hope & Cope gave generous donations to McGill to establish a Chair in Psychosocial Oncology in the Department of Oncology. In 2013 Dr. Carmen Loiselle became Director of the Psychosocial Oncology Program as well as the inaugural holder of the Christine and Herschel Victor/Hope & Cope Chair in Psychosocial Oncology.

The Program’s members come from the fields of psychiatry, psychology and nursing. Their research activities are often in collaboration with clinicians and researchers in a broad range of disciplines. For example, members of the program work with the health care teams who focus on adolescent and young adult oncology, head and neck oncology, gynecologic oncology, dermatologic oncology and radiation oncology. In addition, research is being done in collaboration with the patient support group, Hope & Cope at the Segal Cancer Centre/Jewish General Hospital as well as with the Division of Cancer Epidemiology in the McGill Department of Oncology. Program members are based at the Jewish General Hospital and on the McGill campus but they also collaborate with the psychosocial oncology teams at the McGill University Health Centre and St. Mary’s Hospital Center as well as with local national and international researchers. They present at the major annual national (CAPO) and international (IPOS) psychosocial oncology conferences and are involved in local, national and international initiatives to improve psychosocial care for cancer patients. 

Education and Training
Members of the Program teach undergraduate and graduate level courses as well as train graduate students and postdoctoral fellows. The Psychosocial Oncology Research Training (PORT) program was a CIHR Strategic Training Initiative in Health Research which ran from 2003 to 2015. The training program, which was led by Dr. Carmen Loiselle, provided fellowships to graduate students and postdoctoral fellows wishing to enter the field of psychosocial oncology research from a number of disciplines. During its 12 year funding span, it included more than 80 transdisciplinary mentors and graduate fellows from six major Canadian universities including McGill, University of British Columbia, University of Alberta, University of Manitoba, University of Toronto, and Université Laval.

Psychosocial Oncology at the McGill Teaching Hospitals - Clinical Care
As members of the McGill RUISSS, the Jewish General Hospital, McGill University Health Centre and St. Mary’s Hospital Center each have an interdisciplinary psychosocial oncology team to help cancer patients and their families deal with the myriad of psychosocial issues that come up throughout the course of the disease. They offer support through the services of psychologists, social workers, nurses and psychiatrists on an outpatient, and in some cases, inpatient basis. Additional care as required may be offered by a sexologist, family therapist, music therapist, massotherapist or spiritual care service.

With patient-centered care and the patient experience being important components of the Rossy Cancer Network initiative, the Network has provided support for research and clinical initiatives in psychosocial oncology. One example is the Improving Patient Experience and Health Outcomes Collaborative (iPEHOC) distress screening initiative led by Dr. Zeev Rosberger. Another example is looking at the impact of a supportive re-entry program for patients completing cancer treatment, which is led by psychologist, Dr. Rosanna Faria, at St. Mary’s Hospital Center, and whose collaborators include members of the Department of Oncology’s radiation oncology team.

Director: carmen.loiselle1 [at] (Dr. Carmen Loiselle)
Tel: (514) 398-4163

Back to top