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Janet Ellis – 2019 Feature Grant Recipient

Janet Ellis, University of Toronto

Project Title: “Evaluating the Impact of Dignity Therapy on Quality of Life in Patients with Brain Tumour: A Pilot Study”

Project Summary:

Janet Ellis - Feature Grant Recipient 2019Patients living with brain tumours commonly experience psychosocial distress related to symptom burden, loss of function, and poor or unpredictable prognoses. Dignity therapy is a 2-session intervention that has been shown to help terminally ill patients regain their sense of self and create a sense of meaning. Through Dignity Therapy is indicated for use at end of life, based on the symptoms of a brain tumour which can result in loss of self and dignity well before end-of-life, it is hypothesized that both end-of-life and non-end-of life patients who receive dignity therapy will experience increased psychosocial well-being and reduced death anxiety. Patients with primary and secondary tumours will be recruited from the Odette Cancer Centre in Toronto. Dignity therapy will be conducted with 50 patients with irreversible illness; 25 in the end-of-life (estimated to live less than 1 year), and 25 non­ end-of-life. Psychosocial well-being, connection with others, spiritual wellbeing and meaning, dignity, posttraumatic growth and death anxiety will be measured upon recruitment and 1- and 5-weeks post­ intervention. Qualitative interviews regarding participants’ overall experience of Dignity Therapy will be conducted 1-week post-intervention. This pilot study will evaluate the longitudinal psychosocial impact of Dignity Therapy on patients with brain tumours.

What receiving this award means to Janet:

“Receiving this award means that our team will able to see if Dignity Therapy can be used to decrease distress and improve quality of life in people with brain tumours. Dignity therapy can increase sense of meaning and pride in oneself, despite also “being a patient” with a serious or advanced illness. We are very grateful to Brain Tumour Foundation of Canada for allowing us this opportunity.”