Joined September 2002

Jackie Bender BSc MSc PhD

Health Researcher

People, Health Equity and Innovation (PHI)

416.340.4800 x8116

Where are you from?

I grew up in Mississauga, a suburb of Toronto, but I spent most of my time in gymnasiums. My childhood was dusty, infused with smells of chalk and sweaty clothes, and the sweet sounds of hands and feet lightly tumbling across a balance beam, leather grips wrapping around uneven bars, squeaky springs in trampolines and spring boards, and the satisfying thump of a good landing.

What are you passionate about outside of work?

Music, film, literature, good food, physical activity and travel.


Professional Bio

Jackie is an educator and behavioural health scientist. She is a member of the Phi Group at the Centre for Global eHealth Innovation, a research fellow at the ELLICSR Health, Wellness and Cancer Survivorship Centre at the Princess Margaret Cancer Centre and an instructor in the Dalla Lana School of Public Health at the University of Toronto. She studies ways to improve the health and wellness of people living with chronic disease through the use of information and communication technologies. Most of her research has focused on improving cancer survivors’ access to information and self-management support. Her specific lines of inquiry include: understanding the supportive care needs of cancer survivors; examining the role of peer-to-peer, social media and mobile technologies as health resources; developing and evaluating technology based self-management support interventions; and exploring ways to foster collaboration in research and practice. A core question that weaves throughout Jackie’s program of research is how to harness the social capital between and among patients and health professionals to enhance and transform patient care.

Jackie received her PhD (2011) and MSc (2005) in Health and Behavioural Science from the Dalla Lana School of Public Health at the University of Toronto. Her thesis supervisor was Dr. Alejandro Jadad and her committee members were Dr. Lorraine Ferris and Dr. Joel Katz. For her doctoral dissertation, she examined the role of online communities as a source of supportive care for breast cancer survivors. This research included the first systematic review of online communities and groups on Facebook for breast cancer survivors, as well as a survey of the online support use of a national sample of peer support providers, and a theoretical examination of the conditions that influence their adoption of online communities as coping resources.

For her Master’s thesis, Jackie investigated the information needs of breast cancer patients in pain. This work led to the development of the Virtual Coach for Pain Management, a clinical appointment preparation tool, which coaches patients to prepare questions to ask their health care team about their pain. As an undergraduate, she studied Physiology and Neuroscience at McGill University in Montreal, Quebec.

Outside of academia, Jackie is known for her unique hand and head balancing skills – a testament to her previous career as a gymnast and member of the Canadian National Artistic Gymnastics Team.