Danielle Brosseau (BA’04)
Written by Josh Noble
Connection Magazine - Summer 2014
As many Canadians know too well, a cancer diagnosis comes with a host of challenges, fears, and
consequences. For King’s alumna Danielle Brosseau it is these challenges, fears and consequences that represent the field of her academic research.
Brosseau, originally from Edmonton, AB, completed a bachelor of arts in Psychology at King’s. A strong student with a passion for seeing individuals flourish, she decided to pursue a master of arts in Counselling Psychology at Trinity Western University (TWU) in Langley, B.C. It was during her time at TWU that she first encountered the field of psychosocial oncology. This area of study underscores the belief that cancer is more than a biological diagnosis with often far reaching psychological, social and spiritual effects for individuals and their loved ones. With the assertion that cancer care must extend beyond physical treatment, researchers in psychosocial oncology attempt to better understand how to mitigate the stress of a cancer diagnosis and support constructive coping strategies for patients and their families.
In her master’s thesis Brosseau examined the link between relationship quality and levels of stress reported by cancer patients and their intimate partners. Results suggested that couples with higher quality relationships (i.e., better communication skills) tended to report fewer symptoms of stress than those in lower quality relationships.
Upon completion of her master’s in 2010, Brosseau looked for a counselling psychology program with professors researching in the area of psychosocial oncology, ultimately choosing McGill University in Montreal. At McGill she is working in the Health Psychology Research Group, under the supervision of Dr. Annett Körner. Her interest in how to support couples coping with cancer is focused on dyadic-efficacy—a term referring to a person’s confidence in his or her ability to cope together with a partner. Her research focuses on understanding how the ability to cope as a team may lessen the burden patients and their partners’ experience. Dyadic efficacy has not yet been studied in the cancer context, thus this research will focus on fundamental tool-building in order to accurately assess dyadic efficacy and enable new avenues of research.
In 2013 Brosseau and her husband Fred Tappenden welcomed their first child, Olivia. Danielle has been on maternity leave since welcoming Olivia into the world and looks forward to going back to finish the final two years of her PhD soon.