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Distinguished Prof’s research is one of top stories of 2013

December 11, 2013 — 

Harvey Max Chochinov [PhD/98, MD/83] devotes his life to helping people close to death. The University of Manitoba Distinguished Professor of psychiatry has altered the attitudes and behaviours of health professionals across Canada and worldwide, creating a better way to care for people who are dying.

His research has just been noted as one of the top high-impact research stories of 2013 funded by the Canadian Cancer Society.

Chochinov is director of the Manitoba Palliative Care Research Unit at CancerCare Manitoba and the only Canada Research Chair in Palliative Care. His research funding to date for the Faculty of Medicine exceeds $18 million.

Earlier in 2013, the Canadian Medical Association (CMA) selected Chochinov to receive the 2012 CMA Frederic Newton Gisborne (FNG) Starr Award. Described as the “Victoria Cross of Canadian Medicine,” this award represents the highest honour that the CMA can bestow upon one of its members. It recognizes Chochinov’s global contribution to palliative care and to raising the profile of personhood throughout all of healthcare.

Chochinov was the first to study the issue of dignity in the terminally ill, which has resulted in a new model of care for patients. In addition to extensive publications that have helped define core competencies of palliative care, his most recent book — Dignity Therapy: Final Words for Final Days — has been hailed in the Journal of the American Medical Association as “inspiring” and “innovative,” and received the 2012 Prose Award for Clinical Medicine. The Prose Awards are the American publishers’ awards for professional and scholarly excellence.

He also led a group of national palliative care leaders to createe Canadian Virtual Hospice, an internationally award-winning website that provides support, knowledge exchange, education and the innovative Ask a Professional feature for people with life-limiting illness and those caring for them. More than 1,000 Canadians and people from over 200 countries visit the website daily. By providing equality of access to information and online access to palliative care specialists, Virtual Hospice is changing the landscape of palliative care in Canada.


Here is the citation of Chochinov’s research by Cancer Care Canada:

Simple question helps restore patient dignity

Terminally ill cancer patients need caregivers to see beyond their illness and understand who they are as individuals. In Winnipeg, Harvey Max Chochinov, an international expert in palliative care, has developed and tested a simple approach to help healthcare professionals build greater empathy with their patients. The Patient Dignity Question (PDQ) asks, “What do I need to know about you as a person to give you the best possible care?” By helping healthcare providers feel more connected to their patients, the PDQ helps patients maintain their dignity – a fundamental principle of palliative care. This innovation has been piloted in palliative care settings and select outpatient cancer clinics at CancerCare Manitoba and is the subject of a clinical trial taking place in Dundee, Scotland.

One question may help provide dignity at the end of life: study, July 2013

Research at the University of Manitoba is partially supported by funding from the Government of Canada Research Support Fund.

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