Tracy Truant

Research Topic

Improving cancer survivorship through health promotion behaviors

Research Group

Communication in Cancer Care/Complementary Medicine Education and Outcomes (CAMEO) Research Programs

Research Description

A significant gap exists in the Canadian cancer care system to address the needs of growing numbers of people surviving cancer. Although cured, many survivors experience life-long challenges after treatment completion, including preventing cancer recurrence. Emerging research shows the significant value of many health promotion behaviors (e.g. exercise, diet, complementary medicine) in reducing cancer recurrence risk, managing symptoms, and promoting wellbeing. However, few resources exist offering support to survivors specifically regarding the practice of health promotion behaviors. Without this support, reports indicate that survivors are engaging in a variety of self-care health promotion practices that may or may not be helpful, and in some cases harmful, often without the knowledge or support from informed health care providers or programs. My research aims to understand cancer survivors' health promotion knowledge, practices, unmet needs and impacts; and health care providers' recommendations on optimal deployment of resources in support of survivors' health promotion practices.

What do you hope to accomplish with your research?

This research will inform the development of resources and models of care that offer survivors support for practice of life prolonging and enhancing health promotion strategies. Ultimately, safe and informed practice of health promotion strategies may improve survivors' morbidity outcomes and quality of life, and reduce unnecessary health care resource utilization and costs.

What has winning a major award meant to you?

I am honored to receive a Killam Doctoral Scholarship. I feel a sense of pride to be acknowledged for my research to date and future potential, as well as a sense of responsibility to continue to do good work and contribute to improving the health of Canadians through research. The support from this award ensures that I will have every opportunity to achieve my research and scholarly potential.

What was the best surprise about UBC or life in Vancouver?

My biggest surprise was the opportunity to engage with and learn from outstanding student colleagues. I expected to receive top-notch education and training from faculty, which has certainly been confirmed throughout this first year of my program, but the depth and richness of experiences, challenges, and mentorship that my student peers have brought to my learning has been outstanding, and a delightful bonus to my graduate life.

Why did you decide to study at UBC?

The UBC School of Nursing is home to world-class nurse researchers and scholars, particularly in areas relevant to my research, such as qualitative methodology, cancer, complementary medicine, communication, and health behaviors. I do not believe there is another doctoral training program across Canada providing the same high level of fit with my proposed research while offering support to conduct and achieve exceptional quality of health research and scholarly development.


Why did you decide to pursue a graduate degree?

I have spent much of my career as a professional oncology nurse seeking ways to improve the lives of people living with cancer. My doctoral training prepares me to take the next step, offering new skills, perspectives, and opportunities to continue to contribute to improving the lives of people living with cancer in significant, population-based ways.

What advice do you have for new graduate students?

Keep focused AND balanced! Graduate education can be demanding and all-consuming. At UBC we are fortunate also to have many opportunities to get involved in student life that aids balance – from yoga to wine-tasting classes, there is something for everyone, and so many opportunities to meet people outside of your faculty!