Research Dialogues

Reasearch Dialogues is a series of presentations by UVic School of Nursing faculty to engage dialogue among students, faculty, partners & community. These talks are held virutally over zoom and the public is welcome to attend. Registration links will be posted below a few weeks prior to each talk. 

Past Speakers: 

Jae-Yung Kwon RN, PhD, Assistant Professor, UVic School of Nursing

Heterogeneity in trajectories of mental health and well-being of patients undergoing radiation therapy: an expository analysis using latent class growth mixture models  

An assumption in many trajectory analyses is that there is a single population following a single ‘average’ trajectory. However, symptom trajectories are not expected to be homogeneous in diverse populations. Using latent class growth mixture models (LCGMM), this study aims to: 1) examine heterogeneity in trajectories of patient-reported anxiety, depression and well-being of people who have cancer and are undergoing radiation therapy, and 2) identify, at the time of initial oncology visit, which socio-demographic, physical symptoms and clinical variables (e.g., cancer diagnoses and comorbidities) are associated with such trajectories. Retrospective analysis of data was conducted from the Ontario Cancer Registry and linked with administrative health data. Well-being and symptoms of anxiety and depression were measured using items from the Edmonton Symptom Assessment System – revised questionnaire. Patients completed up to 6 follow-up visits. The findings highlight the importance of considering heterogeneous patterns of symptom trajectories associated with socio-demographic and health-related differences when providing person-centred care.

This presentation will also describe the process that was undertaken for LCGMM and how they can be used as valuable tools to classify multiple unobserved trajectories of patients’ health outcomes. 

Ingrid Handlovsky RN, PhD Assistant Professor, UVic School of Nursing

Advancing Equity with Gender and Sexual Identity: Using Strength-Based Approaches to Unpack the Historical and Ongoing Impact of Interpersonal and Structural Discrimination.

It is well established that men who self-identify as gay experience health inequities rooted in homophobia and heteronormativity. Despite evidence that gay men experience significant health concerns fuelled by discrimination, little is known about the processes men employ to manage their health (i.e. the variety of social practices geared towards promoting their health and navigating exacerbations of chronic illness). What is known has focused on gay men’s sexual health practices and adherence to HIV treatment regimens and is greatly informed by neoliberal discourses of ‘risk’. In this talk, I broach recognition of discrimination as a determinant of health and describe the processes by which discrimination has greatly influenced the health and illness practices as well as experiences of middle-aged and older gay men. Key foci include resilience, health management, mental health, and the socio-historical context of pre-treatment HIV. This knowledge is essential to inform extant and future health services along with health provider approaches to adequately and meaningfully support men’s capacities to promote and protect their health.

Debra Sheets RN, PhD, Professor, UVic School of Nursing

Dementia Reimagined: The Impact of the Arts in Challenging Stigma and Improving Health, Well-being and Quality of Life

The Dementia Inclusive Victoria initiative focuses on promoting a better understanding of dementia, reducing stigma, raising public awareness and facilitating social inclusion and participation within our community. Two research projects at UVic are creating intergenerational communities for creative engagement, learning, and social connection for persons living with dementia (Pwd) and their care partners: 1) the Voices in Motion (ViM) choir, a high-quality dementia inclusive choir; and 2) Memory Café Victoria, a comfortable social gathering focusing on creative engagement in activities that include story creation, music, poetry and movement.  In both programs, the focus is not on dementia but on creating a high quality arts-based program that fosters caring, support, and social connections.  Our research shows that the programs decrease loneliness, depression, caregiver distress, and the rate of cognitive decline.  Findings suggest that arts-based dementia programs are a cost-effective approach to reduce social isolation and stigma, and create a community of belonging and acceptance.  By emphasizing creativity and imagination, arts-based programs shifts attention away from declines associated with memory loss. They allow the PwD to live more fully now, giving hope in the absence of a medical cure.

Olga Petrovskaya RN, PhD, Assistant Professor, UVic School of Nursing

How to study digital clinical information systems and electronic patient portals: Reflections on theoretical frameworks, methodology, and opportunities and challenges in Canada 

Digital health or eHealth is rapidly growing across Canada. This includes the Electronic Health Record (EHR) and online patient portals. Two major attitudes dominate the nursing literature on digital technology (and technology in general). Sociologists call these two sets of attitudes technological determinism (i.e., technology will over-power humanity) and social essentialism (i.e., technology is a blank slate fully dependent on human users to imbue it with meaning and significance). Some sociologists consider these perspectives inadequate to understand and analyze the complexity of technology-enabled health care practices. An alternative approach, sometimes called technology-in-practice, is exemplified by actor-network theory (ANT) and its current iteration known as “after ANT.” Key ANT assumptions include understanding technology as non-essentialist, agentic and enmeshed with other heterogeneous elements in practices. This understanding of technology unsettles the ‘human/non-human,’ ‘warm touch/cold technology’ binaries. In this presentation, I will review select nursing, sociological, and philosophical works articulating this alternative approach to studying technology. I will share examples from my funded research on the patient portal implementation in Alberta, Canada and reflect on challenges for conducting research focused on “real-world” implementation of digital health technology.