Jennifer Bell is a PhD Candidate in the University of British Columbia’s Interdisciplinary Studies Graduate Program. Her supervisory committee includes Dr. Lynda Balneaves (School of Nursing), Dr. Anita Ho (Centre for Applied Ethics) and Dr. Paddy Rodney (School of Nursing).
Ms. Bell is also the CIHR Co-Investigator and Project Director of the Improving Patient Autonomy in Cancer Clinical Trials (IMPACCT) Study and previous Student Member-at-Large (Executive Student Representative) of the Canadian Bioethics Society (2009-2011).
From 2006 to 2007, Ms. Bell was a Research Assistant at Novel Tech Ethics, a research team led by Dr. Francoise Baylis that is based at Dalhousie University. Ms. Bell has completed a MA (in Philosophy with specialization in Biomedical Ethics) at McGill University and Hon. BA (in Philosophy with specialization in Bioethics) at the University of Toronto. Ms. Bell is a Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) Frederick Banting & Charles Best Canada Graduate Scholar. She also receives doctoral funding from the CIHR Psychosocial Oncology Research Training Program (PORT) and is an adjunct trainee in the CIHR Ethics in Health Research and Policy Training Program.
Ms. Bell’s research aims to shed light on an important issue within oncology research communities in North America and across the globe. Despite the heavy reliance on clinical trials data for the development of new practice advances, only a small minority of people living with cancer participate in this type of clinical research. Although much emphasis within the health literature has been placed on the predictive factors and reasons associated with low accrual rates and patients’ hesitancy to participate in trials, little attention has been paid to patients’ decision-making process regarding trial participation and the associated ethical components. Ms. Bell’s research uses qualitative methods to explore cancer patients’ clinical trial decisions through the ethics lens of relational autonomy, thereby potentially uncovering the complex social and political factors that surround trial decision making. Ms. Bell hopes that this understanding will lead to revised clinical trial enrolment procedures that will better support cancer patients in identifying their values and needs, and help them overcome the relational and sociopolitical barriers that may hinder decision making re: trial participation.
In addition to her research, Ms. Bell also has training in clinical, organizational, and research ethics. From 2007-2008 she completed a full-time Clinical and Organizational Ethics Fellowship at the University of Toronto, Joint Centre for Bioethics. From 2009-2010, while working on her doctoral dissertation, she completed a part-time Clinical Ethics Fellowship at Providence Health Care. Ms. Bell has since worked as an ethics consultant for the BC Cancer Agency and Provincial Health Ethics Network in Alberta, Canada. She also serves as an ethicist on several hospital and university committees, including the University of British Columbia Behavioural Research Ethics Board.