Sally Thorne

Prospective Graduate Students / Postdocs

This faculty member is currently not looking for graduate students or Postdoctoral Fellows. Please do not contact the faculty member with any such requests.


Research Classification

Research Interests

cancer care
chronic illness
Medical assistance in dying

Relevant Degree Programs



University of British Columbia School of Nursing

Research Methodology

applied qualitative methods

Great Supervisor Week Mentions

Each year graduate students are encouraged to give kudos to their supervisors through social media and our website as part of #GreatSupervisorWeek. Below are students who mentioned this supervisor since the initiative was started in 2017.


As the #GreatSupervisor week comes to a close, I’d like to extend a huge thank you to @salthorne & Dr Maura MacPhee from @UBCNursing for all the guidance & support they provide to ensure my graduate experience and scholarly work are enriched! @UBC @canadanurses #NursesWeek2019

Raluca Radu (2019)


I feel so fortunate to have Sally and Fuchsia as my doctoral supervisors. As an international student, they are the kind of supervisors I need to be successful. Early on in my first year when I was struggling to balance between my son and study, they both showed their understanding and support. We are able to meet when necessary and they always provide detailed and constructive feedback which has provided me with the impetus I needed to develop the functional skills and knowledge for this evolving learning experience. I could not be more happy for their mentorship including other occasions for which I owe them gratitude. Many thanks to Sally and Fuchsia.

Abosede Ojerinde (2018)


So blessed to have Dr. Sally Thorne as my advisor! #GreatSupervisor #UBC.

Jen ML Stephens (2017)


Graduate Student Supervision

Doctoral Student Supervision

Dissertations completed in 2010 or later are listed below. Please note that there is a 6-12 month delay to add the latest dissertations.

Exploring equitably high quality cancer survivorship care (2018)

Evidence of health disparities among cancer survivors is growing. Globally, survivorship models of care are evolving rapidly, yet few consider health and social disparities in their development, limiting access to high quality survivorship care for many. In the current context, Canada’s survivorship care systems may privilege some, and not others, to receive high quality survivorship care and optimize health in this context. Understanding the role of disparities in models of care development and access is essential to ensure individual need, rather than social privilege, guides opportunities for high quality survivorship care. This study aims to improve survivorship care systems by helping clinicians and decision makers to a better understanding of how various factors (e.g. social, political, economic, personal) and survivors’ health experiences and health management strategies might shape the development of and access to high quality survivorship care for Canadians with cancer. A nursing disciplinary epistemology, underpinned by pragmatism and informed by critical and intersectional perspectives, served as a framework to explore complexity within survivorship care. A phased qualitative Interpretive Description approach was used to analyze data from three distinct data sources: 1) critical textual analysis of 70+ document sources (e.g., survivorship guidelines, education programs, policies, resources); 2) secondary analysis of multiple transcripts from 19 survivors in an existing data base; and 3) 34 survivor and 12 stakeholder interviews. Survivors described a gap between their expected and actual survivorship care experiences. This gap was shaped by contextual and structural factors that further marginalized some individuals/groups. Factors shaping this gap at all levels included: individual (e.g., previous experiences, social determinants of health, advanced cancer, age); group (e.g., defining standardized “norms”); and system (e.g. efficiency drivers, underdeveloped guidelines, exclusionary messaging such as “cancer can be beaten”). Recommendations arising from these findings ranged from strategies to build survivor trust to integrated policies across social and health sectors to promote survivors’ holistic health. This multilayered, intersectoral approach to understanding what shapes survivorship care systems and resources highlights and unravels the complex nature of the issue, helping clinicians and decisions makers find multi-layered approaches for equitably high quality survivorship care.

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Exploring issues of identity for adult haematology oncology patients (2018)

Caring for adult haematology cancer patients can be challenging, and the difference in experience between this cancer subgroup and solid tumour cancers is only recently becoming a topic of investigation as researchers seek to identify and understand fundamental biological and psychological dissimilarities. The issue of identity is one that is of intense consequence for many cancer patients as they move from one state of being to another. This qualitative study was undertaken to generate knowledge about this important concern in a way that would ultimately inform an understanding of how to improve the patient experience of care with regards to identity concerns.Interpretive description served as the methodological framework which guided a data collection and analysis strategy composed of five consecutive layers. Secondary research included a critical integrative literature review, a historical inquiry, and a secondary analysis of a pre-existing qualitative database. Primary research was composed of semi-structured interviews undertaken with a haematology oncology patient cohort as well as semi-structured interviews with experienced oncology clinicians. Findings revealed that adult haematology oncology patients co-create and enact new identities that are increasingly aligned with a distinct experience defined specifically by their cancer subtype. Pre-existing identity labels and associated behaviours and expectations generally were viewed by patients as inadequate to fully describe and inform their experience of having a haematological cancer. Knowledge-gathering, linking with others who had similarly unique diagnoses down to a genetic level, and exploring the abstract cellular nature of their disease were just some of the themes that addressed ways these patients engaged with the highly complex and embodied construct known as identity. Several implications for clinical practice resulted from this study and include the importance of recognizing identity as simultaneously a physiological and psycho-social concern that will mean different things to different people at different times in the course of their disease. Implications for further research include advocating for theoretical and substantive knowledge development around identity constructs to generate further understanding of the deeply-rooted, textured relationship between identity and overall well-being.

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Primary care providers' attitudes and experiences recommending cancer screening to patients with Intellectual Disabilities (2017)

Individuals with Intellectual Disabilities receive breast, cervical, and colorectal cancer screening at rates lower than the general population. The reasons for this disparity are poorly understood. Additionally, in the general population, a primary care provider’s recommendation for cancer screening is one of the key determinants of whether an individual obtains cancer screening. This mixed methods study explored the role of primary care providers in recommending cancer screening to patients with Intellectual Disabilities. First, 106 primary care providers (family physicians, family medicine residents, and nurse practitioner students from across British Columbia) were surveyed regarding their attitudes towards people with Intellectual Disabilities in general, and their anticipated likelihood of recommending breast, cervical, and colorectal cancer screening to fictional patients with Intellectual Disabilities presented in vignettes. In the second phase, 10 family medicine residents and two family physicians were interviewed regarding their experiences recommending cancer screening to patients with Intellectual Disabilities. The quantitative and qualitative analysis revealed that: (1) participants with negative attitudes towards the community inclusion of individuals with Intellectual Disabilities were less likely to recommend breast and colorectal cancer screening to fictional patients with Intellectual Disabilities; and (2) participants balance applying evidence-based guidelines with exercising clinical judgement to determine the best course of care for each patient, and this balance is situated within the larger medical environment that physicians practice within. In conclusion, this study determined that aspects of attitudes are related to cancer screening recommendations, but given that attitudes are one of many factors related to screening recommendations, future studies should not solely focus on this factor. Second, it appears that clinicians individualize care for all patients, and a patient’s Intellectual Disability is one of many factors considered prior to a screening recommendation. Finally, participants were aware of the evolving nature of cancer screening guidelines, and changed their practice accordingly as guidelines change. More research is needed to determine if these findings are applicable to more experienced primary care providers, given that the majority of participants in the interview phase were residents.

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Master's Student Supervision

Theses completed in 2010 or later are listed below. Please note that there is a 6-12 month delay to add the latest theses.

Exploring the process of implementing nursing bedside shift report (2019)

No abstract available.

Women's descriptions of their experiences regarding lifestyle management after spontaneous coronary artery dissection (2019)

No abstract available.

The effect of an education seminar on support persons of individuals with cancer on knowledge and decision making related to complementary and alternative medicine (2018)

Complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) use is prevalent among cancer patients; thus, patients require information about the efficacy and safety of these therapies. Some cancer patients struggle to make informed decisions, highlighting the need for education and decisional support. Patients often look to support persons for assistance in treatment decision making; recognizing the social context of decision making, a patient education seminar focused on CAM therapies was developed to include support persons.This study examines the effect of an education seminar for adult cancer patients and their support persons on support persons’ use of CAM, knowledge about CAM and CAM decision making, CAM information-seeking behaviour, and decision-making experience pertaining to CAM. This research idea was developed following a number of projects completed as part of the Complementary Medicine Education and Outcomes (CAMEO) research program. The data presented for the first time in this thesis were collected from support persons as part of an initial study of the CAMEO research program. Surveys completed before and after the education seminar were used to examine the impact of the education seminar on support persons. Six measurement scales comprised the baseline and follow-up surveys: a CAM use survey, a CAM knowledge scale, two decisional outcomes scales (i.e., decision self-efficacy and decision conflict), a distress scale, and a demographic form. The conceptual frameworks providing the foundation for the CAMEO program, as well as data collection and analysis, were the Shared Decision Making and Ottawa Decision Support Framework. The Supportive Care Framework informed how decision support interventions were developed and offered by the CAMEO program, including the patient and support person education intervention.iiThere was no significant difference in support persons’ CAM use following the seminar. After the seminar, most people continued to find information about CAM using the Internet; however, there was a significant increase in the use of the CAMEO website. In addition, significant increases in support persons’ CAM knowledge were observed, as well as improved confidence in four key areas of CAM decision making. A significant decrease in support persons’ decisional conflict was also found. No significant changes in decision- making distress were found.

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Patient communication in an online peer-to-peer forum for atrial fibrillation: An interpretive description (2016)

Atrial fibrillation (AF) is the most common heart arrhythmia. For people who experience symptomatic episodes, trying to identify triggers and maintain control can cause significant distress. While the sharing of personal experiences and stories occurs routinely on the Internet, the impact of having access to online AF-related information is unknown. The purpose of this study was to explore anecdotal and experiential knowledge about AF created online and elucidate information and support needs from a patient perspective. I employed a non-participant, observational design to tap into a uniquely patient-centred perspective by analyzing messages on a commonly available electronic message board used by AF patients. My analysis was guided by the Interpretive Description qualitative approach, and informed by the Experiential Health Information Processing model. In my analysis, I conceptualized four component parts to describe how participants interacted on the message board to take command of their AF: 1) sharing experiences and values, 2) searching for sense, 3) managing the complexities of information, and 4) acting as a wise consumer. The results demonstrated that many of the participants entered the message board with a common sense of mistrust in the pharmaceutical industry and desired non-pharmacologic approaches to AF treatment. The opinions of lay experts on the message board, anecdotal stories, and hyperlinked Internet data were all highly valued sources of information in the messages. Notable actions described by participants included manipulating anti-arrhythmic drugs and nutritional supplements to perceived symptoms of arrhythmia and using the board to select an ablation operator. I propose that there is an unmet need in the AF population for patient education regarding non-pharmacologic approaches to AF. Further research is suggested to examine the prevalence of complementary and alternative medicine use in the AF population and to support nurses encountering patients who present with information gained online.

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What is the Policy Landscape for Consideration of Nurse Anesthetist Practice in British Columbia? (2013)

This health policy analysis investigates the contextual landscape and possible alternatives for new legislation and regulation of a prospective role for nurse anesthetists in British Columbia (BC), Canada. Principles of basic analysis are used to address the major concepts of context, process, and actors. The normative perspective allows consideration of the influence of values in decision-making processes. American and Canadian advanced practice nursing roles, such as the Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist, and Nurse Practitioner, are examined for their pertinent history, including the legislative and regulatory structures that govern them. Facilitators and barriers to new role implementation add further contextual detail to this investigation. Values of decision-makers are considered in concert with past policy processes to develop viable and practical policy alternatives for the implementation of nurse anesthetists in BC.

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Current Students & Alumni

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