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Monday, February 2, 2004For immediate release


Canadians to benefit from unique healthcare project

(OTTAWA, ONTARIO) - The Ottawa Hospital Foundation and Bell Canada announced today the official opening of the Bell Patient Decision Support Laboratory - the first in Canada - thanks to a contribution of $500,000 provided by Bell Canada. Funding will go toward researching effective ways to help patients and their families facing difficult decisions about their health. It will also support the on-going development of unique tools called "decision aids".

Decision aids, presented as worksheets, will benefit patients and healthcare practitioners alike. They can be tremendously useful to Canadians facing tough choices - such as deciding whether to place a family member with dementia in a care facility, or taking stronger drugs for arthritis.

"Beyond the latest medical information, decision aids help patients look at a difficult decision in the context of their values, their lifestyle and their beliefs", said Dr. Annette O'Connor, Director of the new laboratory. "Decision aids don't provide advice, nor do they replace professional counseling. They do improve knowledge of options and skills in participating in shared, tough decisions. As a result, professionals spend less time presenting facts and more time listening and discussing the personal issues and values of the patient and family."

There are over 500 decision aids in the database and over 150 are now accessible for public use at the lab Web site

Apart from provincial and federal government funding, Bell Canada is the only corporate investor to support on-going operations for this unique project. "Bell Canada is proud to partner with The Ottawa Hospital Foundation in providing this significant gift for the first in Canada Patient Decision Support Laboratory", said Gary Cameron, Vice President, Bell Canada and Executive Sponsor for Ottawa. "By connecting people with leading edge medical technology and information, we are helping to create a 21st century infrastructure that will improve the health of Canadian's across the country."

Dr. O'Connor began researching ways to help patients and their families make difficult and emotional decisions in order to have them feel more confident about their choice. This research led to the development of several decision aids.

"As an example, a surgeon offers two women the options of mastectomy or lumpectomy plus radiation to treat their early breast cancer. Both options are equal in survival benefit, but one woman prefers a mastectomy because she most values relieving her worry about cancer returning in that breast, whereas the other prefers a lumpectomy plus radiation because she most values preserving her natural breast. There are no wrong answers here."

The Bell Patient Decision Support Laboratory is the world's clearinghouse for decision aids. O'Connor leads an international Cochrane Collaboration team who catalogue and evaluate decision aids, and are setting international standards on how they should be developed. "It is crucial that these tools lead to informed, values-based decisions. They need to be based on the latest scientific evidence, balanced, effective in clarifying values, and developed by a credible team."

Funding for the Bell Patient Decision Support Laboratory will also go toward computer workstations for patients to access health information and online decision aids. Patients will also be able to access video, audio and paper-based decision aids in the lab. Sophisticated audio and video recording equipment will enable researchers to study how patients use decision aids. The lab will also include a meeting room for focus groups and interviews.

Researchers at the laboratory, which is part of the Ottawa Hospital Research Institute (the research arm of The Ottawa Hospital), are also exploring better ways to train call center nurses, doctors, and other professionals in providing the decision support for tough decisions.

The Ottawa Hospital Foundation's mission is to inspire and enable people to support the highest quality healthcare at The Ottawa Hospital and world-class research at the Ottawa Hospital Research Institute. For more information, visit The Ottawa Hospital Foundation Web site at .

About Bell Canada
Bell Canada, Canada's national leader in communications, provides connectivity to residential and business customers through wired and wireless voice and data communications, local and long distance phone services, high speed and wireless Internet access, IP-broadband services, ebusiness solutions and satellite television services. Bell Canada is wholly owned by BCE Inc. For more information, please visit .

For more information please contact:

Danielle St-Aubin
The Ottawa Hospital Foundation
(613) 798-5555, ext. 12972
Jacqueline Michelis
Bell Canada Media Relations
(613) 785-1427

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