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Research Team Members

Medical Director / Co-principal Investigator - Dr. Margaret Lawson, MD, MSc, FRCP, is a Pediatric Endocrinologist in academic practice at CHEO and the University of Ottawa and a Senior Scientist in the Evidence to Practice Research Group in the CHEO Research Institute. In 2008, Dr. Lawson undertook a one-year research sabbatical with Dr. Annette O'Connor at the Ottawa Hospital Research Institute (OHRI) focusing on shared decision making and development of decision aids for families facing difficult decisions. Dr. Lawson received funding in 2009 from the Ontario Ministry of Health Academic Health Sciences Centres Innovation Fund to develop, implement and evaluate a hospital-wide decision support program for CHEO. This unique program, currently funded by a CIHR Knowledge to Action Grant, is focused on increasing family involvement in decisions about their children's health through the use of shared decision making, decision coaching and patient decision aids.
Program Coordinator / Research Nurse – Allyson Shephard, RN, MScN, is the program coordinator and research nurse for Family Decision Services.  A Registered Nurse with more than 20 years of experience dedicated to the nursing care of children and families, Allyson has held a wide range of clinical and management positions.  Her past expertise includes emergency nursing and trauma program management and hospital-based infection prevention and
control. She has significant experience and interest in evidence-based policy and program development and implementation. Allyson has been actively involved
in staff/physician education at CHEO and an invited speaker at regional and national conferences. She has had a career-long commitment to patient and family centred care, including her graduate research project studying healthcare professionals’ attitudes and beliefs toward family presence during pediatric
trauma resuscitations. Allyson received her Bachelor of Science in Nursing and Master of Science in Nursing degrees from the University of Ottawa.

Co-investigator Jennifer Kryworuchko, PhD, RN, CNCC(C), is an Assistant Professor, Nursing, at the University of British Columbia. She is a Health Services Researcher focused on patient and family participation in healthcare decision-making with more than 15 years of clinical nursing experience in settings like the Canadian Forces and Intensive Care Unit. Specifically focused on how healthcare professionals make decisions with seriously ill patients with complex needs, she is particularly interested in how we can intentionally and actively create a dialogical space for healing relationships that engage healthcare professionals, patients and their families in health decision-making. She has been involved in the development of innovative strategies to engage families in decision making, including many patient decisions aids. For example, she developed and adapted training modules in Shared Decision Making for healthcare professionals with researchers at the Patient Decision Aid Research Group in Ottawa. She is an active researcher with the Canadian Researchers at End of Life Network (CARENET) and is engaged with the international research community focused on improving and evaluating healthcare practices in shared decision-making. Jen is a co-investigator with Family Decision Services research team.

Programmer & Data AnalystAnton Saarimaki, MCS, leads and coordinates the development of standardized data collection and reporting systems in decision support and provides ongoing analytic and reporting support. He maintains the Family Decision Services web pages. His past experience includes work for the OHRI Clinical Epidemiology Program supporting researchers' use of web-based resources.

Co-investigator -  Sandra Dunn, RN, PhD is the Knowledge Translation Specialist at the Better Outcomes Registry & Network (BORN Ontario), a Clinical Investigator at the CHEO Research Institute, and an Adjunct Professor in the School of Nursing at the University of Ottawa. Her work includes mixed methods research, data quality analysis, program evaluation, knowledge translation, and inter-professional shared decision-making in perinatal care. Sandy is a co-investigator on grants funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, and the CHEO Research Institute. She has published and presented extensively about issues in perinatal care, interprofessional shared decision-making, data quality, and knowledge translation to facilitate practice change in perinatal care.
Graduate Student - Laura Boland, MSc, SLP-C, PhD(c) is a Population Health PhD candidate at the University of Ottawa and a member of the Patient Decision Aids Research Group at the Ottawa Hospital Research Institute. Her research interests include implementation of shared decision making in pediatric clinical practice and knowledge translation to patients and families. Laura’s dissertation is examining the barriers and facilitators of using shared decision making in pediatrics. Prior to starting her doctoral work, Laura was the Research Associate for CHEO Family Decision Services (2009-2012). She is also a speech-language pathologist and worked with children, adults and families in Nova Scotia and Ontario.
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