Mary Ann O'Brien PhD
Assistant Professor
Dr. Mary Ann O'Brien
Central DFCM
Dept of Family & Community Medicine
500 University Avenue, 5th Floor
Toronto, ON, M5G 1V7
CREMS Students
Graduate Students
Summer Students
Research Interests
Knowledge Translation, Screening, Systematic Reviews, Grounded Theory, Case Studies, Generic Qualitative, Mixed Methods, Qualitative Data Analysis, Cancer Care, Chronic Diseases, Observational Studies

•    Assistant Professor in the Department of Family and Community Medicine, University of Toronto, and
•    Scientific Associate with the Knowledge Translation Research Network, Health Services Research Program, Ontario Institute for cancer research.



Research Synopsis

My research interests focus on knowledge translation strategies in primary care and on communication and decision making between physicians and cancer patients. 


Funding Agency: Alberta Cancer Prevention Fund, Alberta Innovates - Health Solutions
Amount: $2,705,822.12
Period: 5 years 
Title: Building on Existing Tools to Improve Cancer and Chronic Disease Prevention and Screening in Primary Care for Wellness of Cancer Survivors and Patients: The BETTER WISE project
Investigators: Project Lead: Manca DP, Project Co-Leads: Aubrey-Bassler K, Campbell-Scherer D, Grunfeld E, Shea-Budgell M.
Collaborators: Aguilar C, Bencivenga A, Bloch G, Britten J, Carroll J, Davis C, Denga E, Dong K, Elford R, Green L, Narpindeer Hans, Janke F, Klein D, Krueger P, Leduc C, Lewanczuk R, McBrien K, Meaney C, Moineddin R, Nykiforuk C, O’Brien MA, Pinto A, Rose M, Ross S, Salvalaggio G, Scrimshaw C, Siu C, Sopcak N, Tink W L, Wilson M. Role: COLL

Funding Agency: Canadian Cancer Society Research Institute
Amount: $599,632.00
Funding Period: 2016-2020
Title: Advancing cancer prevention in deprived neighbourhoods
Investigators: Paszat LF. Lofters A, Pinto A, O'Brien MA, Sutradhar R, Selby P, Sullivan F, Grunfeld E, Gardner C, Simon L, Kyle R, Tinmouth J, Rabeneck L, Lansdorp-Vogelaar I, Donnelly P, Manca D, Baxter N, Glazier R, Pellizzari R, Petrusiak MA, Nesbitt J, Wall B. Role: Co-PI

Funding Agency: Ontario Institute for Cancer Research
Amount: $243,315.15
Funding Period: 2014-2016
Project Title: Knowledge Translation Research Network: Implementation of innovations
Investigators: Grunfeld E, Barbera L, Brouwers MC, Earle C, Graham I, O’Brien MA, Carr, D. Role: Co-I

Funding Agency: Ontario Institute for Cancer Research
Amount: $446,172.70
Funding Period: 2014-2016
Project Title: Improving the management of pain in cancer patients in Ontario
Investigators:, Barbera L, Howell D, Seow H, DeAngelis C, Sutradhar R, O’Brien MA, Earle C, Husain A, Sussman J, Atzema C, Dudgeon D, Pereira J, Molloy S. Role: Co-I

Funding Agency: CIHR
Amount: $2.5 million
Funding Period: 2013-2017
Project Title: Canadian Team to Improve Community-Based Cancer Care along the Continuum (CanIMPACT)
Investigators: Grunfeld E, Aubin M, Brouwers M, Carroll J, Fillion L, Earle C, Eisenhauer E, Fitch M, Groome P, Heisey R, Husain A, Jones J, Krueger P, Krzyzanowska M, Lofters A, Manca D, Maxted J, McBride M, Miedema B, Miller F, Mittman N, Moineddin R, O’Brien MA, Porter GA, Sisler J, Sussman J, Winget M, Jefford M, Pruthi S, Oeffinger K, Vedsted P. Role: Co-I

Funding Agency: Hamilton Academic Health Sciences Organization (HAHSO), Hamilton Ontario
Amount: $129,996
Funding Period: January 1 2013- December 31, 2015
Project Title: The evaluation of a LHIN4 practice guideline and needs assessment for a patient information strategy for completion axillary dissection in breast cancer surgery.
Investigators: Lovrics PJ, Hodgson N, Simunovic M, O’Brien MA, Thabane L Strang B, Mukherjee S. Role: Co-I

Funding Agency: CIHR
Amount: $ 619,014
Funding Period: April 1 2012 – March 31, 2015
Project Title: Evaluating quality improvement interventions in colorectal cancer surgery in Ontario.
Investigators: Simunovic M, Urbach D (Co-PI), Baxter N, Stukel R, Earle C, Smith A, Brouwers M, Forbes S, O’Brien MA. Role: Co-I

Funding Agency: Cancer Care Ontario
Amount: $23,471.55
Project Title: Towards developing a web based cancer risk calculator for use by family physicians with patients at the point of care
Funding Period: May 1, 2011 – April 30, 2012
Investigators: Grunfeld E, Voruganti T, Straus S, O’Brien MA. Role: Co-I

Funding Agency: Department of Surgery, McMaster University
Amount: $30,000
Funding Period: April 1, 2011 – March 31, 2012        
Project Title: Development of the Ontario Rectal Cancer Decision Aid
Investigators: Simunovic M, Cadeddu M, Forbes S, Gafni A, Kelly S, O’Brien MA, Sussman J, Whelan T. Role: Co-I

Funding Agency: CIHR, Meeting, Dissemination Grant
Amount: $15,000
Project Title: Establishing a national agenda and research network for shared decision making (SDM) in oncology in Canada
Funding Period: April 1, 2010 – March 31, 2012
Investigators: Kennedy E, Gagliardi A, O’Brien MA. Role: Co-I

Publications and Awards

Recent Publications

2016 Fung F, Cornacchi SD, Vanniyasingam T, Dao D, Thabane L, Simunovic M, Hodgson N, O’Brien MA, Reid S, Heller B, Lovrics PJ. Predictors of 5-year local, regional and distant recurrent events in a population-based cohort of patients with breast cancer. Am J Surg. 2016 Jun 14. pii: S0002-9610(16)30290-2. doi: 10.1016/j.amjsurg.2016.03.016. Role: CA

2016 O'Brien MA, Tsao M, Cornacchi SD, Hodgson N, Reid S, Simunovic M, Mukherjee SD, Strang B, Thabane L, Lovrics PJ. Effects of a regional guideline for completion axillary lymph node dissection in women with breast cancer to reduce variation in surgical practice: A qualitative study of physicians' views. Breast. 2016 Oct;29:126-31. doi: 10.1016/j.breast.2016.07.012. Epub 2016 Jul 30. Role:PA

2016 Tsao MW, Cornacchi SD, Hodgson N, Simunovic M, Thabane L, Cheng J, O'Brien MA, Strang B, Mukherjee SD, Lovrics PJ. A Population-Based Study of the Effects of a Regional Guideline for Completion Axillary Lymph Node Dissection on AxillarySurgery in Patients with Breast Cancer. Ann Surg Oncol. 2016 Oct;23(10):3354-64. doi: 10.1245/s10434-016-5310-4. Epub 2016 Jun 24. Role: CA

2015 Meaney C, Krueger P, Moineddin R, O’Brien MA, Sullivan F, Voruganti RT. Text mining describes the use of statistical and epidemiological methods in published medical research. J Clin Epidemiol. 2015 Dec 19. pii: S0895-4356(15)00577-6. doi: 10.1016/j.jclinepi.2015.10.020. [Epub ahead of print] Role: CA

2015 Voruganti RT, O’Brien MA, Straus SE, McLaughlin JR, Grunfeld E.  Primary care physicians’ perspectives on computer-based health risk assessment tools for chronic diseases: a mixed methods study. J Innov Health Inform. 2015;22(3):333-339 Role: CA

2015 O’Brien MA, Grunfeld E, Sussman J, Porter G, Hammond-Mobilio M. Family physicians’ views of survivorship care plans to provide breast cancer follow-up care: exploration of results from a randomized controlled trial. Current Oncology 2015;22(4):252-259 Role: PA

2014 O'Brien MA, Charles C, Lovrics P, Wright F, Whelan T, Simunovic M, Kennedy E, Grunfeld E. Enablers and barriers to using patient decision aids in early stage breast cancer consultations: surgeons’ views. Implementation Science 2014, 9:174 Role: PA

2014 Manca DP,  Aubrey-Bassler K, Kandola, K, Aguilar C, Campbell-Scherer D, Sopcak N, O’Brien MA, Meaney C, Faria V, Baxter J, Moineddin R, Salvalaggio G, Cave A, Green L, Grunfeld E. Implementing and evaluating a program to facilitate chronic disease prevention and screening in primary care: a mixed methods program evaluation. Implementation Science 2014, 9:135  doi:10.1186/s13012-014-0135-7 Role: CA

2014 Ivers NM, Grimshaw JM, Jamtvedt G, Flottorp S, O'Brien MA, French SD, Young J,Odgaard-Jensen J. Growing Literature, Stagnant science? Systematic review, meta-regression and cumulative analysis of audit and feedback interventions in health care. J Gen Intern Med. 2014 Jun 26. [Epub ahead of print] PubMed PMID:24965281. Role: CA

2014 Lovrics P, Hodgson N, O'Brien MA, Thabane L, Cornacchi S, Coates A, Heller B, Reid S, Sanders K, Simunovic M. Results of a surgeon-directed quality improvement project on breast cancer surgery outcomes in South-Central Ontario. Ann Surg Oncol. 2014;21:2181-2187. Role: CA

2013 O’Brien MA, Ellis PM, Whelan TJ, Charles C, Gafni A, Lovrics P, Mukherjee SD, Hodgson N.   Physician-related facilitators and barriers to patient involvement in treatment decision making in women with early stage breast cancer: perspectives from physicians and patients.  Health Expectations 2013;16:373-384, first published online 2011 Sep 16. doi:10.1111/j.1369-7625.2011.00712.x. Role: PA

2013 Lovrics PJ, Hodgson N, O'Brien MA, Thabane L, Cornacchi SD, Coates A, Heller B, Reid S, Sanders K, Simunovic M. The implementation of a surgeon-directed quality improvement strategy in breast cancer surgery.  American Journal of Surgery, July 31, 2013. Role: CA

2013 Feldman-Stewart D, O’Brien MA, Clayman MC, Davision BJ, Jimbo M, Labreque M, Martin RW, Shepherd H. Providing information about options in patient decision aids. BMC Informatics and Decision Making. 2013;13 Suppl 2:S4. doi: 10.1186/1472-6947-13-S2-S4. Epub 2013 Nov 29. Role: Co-PA
2013 O’Brien MA, Charles C, Whelan TJ, Ellis PM, Gafni A, Lovrics P. Women’s perceptions of their involvement in treatment decision making in early stage breast cancer. Supportive Care in Cancer. DOI 10.1007/s00520-013-1718-6  Role: PA

Honours and Awards

2013 - 2013    Fellowship, Training in Dissemination and Implementation in Health Research. National Cancer Institute, Washington University, St. Louis, MI.

Trainee Awards
2011 - 2014    Post Doctoral Fellowship Award, Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation, Ontario Division (completed Year 1, declined Years 2&3)

2010 - 2011    Post Doctoral Fellowship Award, Psychosocial Oncology Research Training (PORT) Program, CIHR Strategic Training Initiative in Health Research

2005 – 2008    Predoctoral Traineeship Award, Breast Cancer Research Program, US Department of Defense

2004 – 2006    Doctoral Fellowship, Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation – Ontario Chapter (declined Year 2)