O’Connor grew up as one of seven children in a military family that traveled across Canada. When she was 17, her father had a heart attack and his treatment afterwards sparked what would become her lifelong interest in patient-centred medical decision-making.
O’Connor has participated in over 100 projects and has published over 400 peer-reviewed papers, researching and implementing her frameworks and testing the effectiveness of different decision aids to make medical decision-making more accessible to patients.
“She’s well recognized around the world. Sometimes people call her like the godmother of shared decision-making … She’s just a guru,” Stacey said.
“She’s has this phenomenal, like, unbelievable ability to envision, think and move ideas forward.”
O’Connor’s research has been implemented all over the world, with her frameworks being referenced in healthcare legislation, including in Obamacare in the United States.
In 2006, she founded and co-led the Inaugural International Patient Decision Aids Standards Collaboration to set quality standards for the development of patient decision aids in 14 countries. She has also led online training that teaches healthcare professionals how to involve patients in their treatment decisions.
“What she really brought in is a framework for thinking about how we intervene and actually support the patients to be more involved,” Stacey said.
O’Connor has also become a fellow of the Royal Society of Canada and the Canadian Academy of Health Sciences and an appointed Officer of the Order of Canada.
She says she is honoured to be recognized for her work, but adds that she hasn’t done it alone.
“I feel very honoured and very indebted to the collective efforts of our Ottawa Patient Decision research team as well as the Canadian and international community that made it possible,” O’Connor said.
“I’m proud to be a founding investigator in this new field, and I’m especially proud to see the next generation’s contributions … It’s very gratifying not to have your work stop when you retire and to see the progress.”
This content was originally published here.