To foster quality psychosocial-oncology (PSO) and supportive care to meet the diverse needs of cancer populations throughout their cancer experience by the development, dissemination, and uptake of standards and evidence-based guidelines in PSO and supportive care.



Marianne Arab
Social Work
Nova Scotia Health Authority

Marianne currently works with the Nova Scotia Health Cancer Care Program as the Provincial Manager of Psychosocial Oncology, Palliative and Spiritual Care.  Her career experience includes working as an inpatient clinical social work in the areas of Family Medicine, Oncology and Palliative Care and spans over 25 years.

She has co-lead numerous federally funded initiatives most notably the Paramedics Providing Palliative Care at Home Program.  This Program supports paramedics to provide palliative care at home for patients in crises requiring palliative support who do not wish to be transported to their local emergency department. As well she has been instrumental in the adoption of screening for and management of distress in oncology clinics across Nova Scotia.  She has done extensive work in the areas of cancer survivorship including transitions in care. She has been an online facilitator for the IPODE continuing education course since 2010 and was a field placement supervisor and seminar facilitator for MSW and BSW on campus and distance education social work students at the School of Social Work, Dalhousie University.

Marianne is currently the Past President of the Nova Scotia Hospice Palliative Care Association and also sits on the Board of the Canadian Association of Psychosocial Oncology representing social work.

Marianne has her Bachelor of Social Work from McGill University and her Masters in Social Work from Dalhousie University.


Kimberley Thibodeau, MSW, CFT
Social Work
CUSM/MUHC Psychosocial Oncology Program

Kimberley Thibodeau, MSW/CFT, works as a couple and family therapist in PSO at the MUHC since the program was founded in 2008. Ms. Thibodeau has a Master of Social Work from McGill University, is a certified couple and family therapist and supervisor, and a registered psychotherapist. As a clinician, she provides psychosocial services to cancer patients and family members across the illness trajectory through individual, couple and family interventions. She is a recognized expert on the impact of cancer on patients and their family. Kimberley is a CAPO board member; acts as secretary, co-chair of the Clinical Advisory Committee and Advocacy Committee.

Framework to Hire Psychosocial Oncology Professionals, Staffing Ratio Formula & Calculator

Background: In 2010 the Canadian Association of Psychosocial Oncology (CAPO) released its revised Standards of Psychosocial Health Services for People Affected by Cancer (2010). The national standards define psychosocial oncology (PSO) as a specialty concerned with the social, psychological, emotional, spiritual, quality-of-life and functional [practical] aspects of cancer, from prevention through bereavement. PSO is a whole-person care approach that recognizes distress as the 6th Vital Sign of cancer care.  Distress should be proactively identified in people affected by cancer followed by an assessment and treatment plan for the management of complex psychosocial issues (Bultz & Johansen, 2011).

The CAPO Standards (2010) were developed to assist cancer facilities, administrators, program leaders and professionals in the delivery of psychosocial health services in Canada by providing a framework for building PSO programs. CAPO has become the “go to” organization in Canada where people make inquiries about the standards and ask clarifying questions for developing PSO programming. A common question posed is about staffing ratios for the disciplines involved in the delivery of PSO care.

Hiring PSO Staffing Framework and Formula:  In 2019 members of the CAPO Clinical Advisory Committee undertook a review of the literature for hiring PSO professionals to find that there were no funding formulas available in Canada. They started with the discipline of Master’s Prepared Social workers (MSWs) working in tertiary cancer centres.  A preliminary framework describing the elements to be considered when hiring PSO professionals was developed with a funding formula focussing on the discipline of social work, the largest discipline for CAPO membership.  The Clinical Advisory Committee members gathered PSO leaders across the country for their input and to reach consensus on each element of the framework that led to the development of a calculator.  Administrators now have the ability to enter administrative data that provides an estimate of MSW positions required for PSO programming in a tertiary cancer centre.

The framework is comprised of ten factors:  (1) Principles of the work environment for the discipline. (2) Scope of practice for the discipline.  (3) Estimation for the prevalence of cancer distress. (4) Defining work hours. (5) Direct vs. indirect patient care. (6) Carryover caseload from one fiscal year to the next. (7) Instrumental concerns vs. counselling and/or psychotherapy. (8) Group work. (9) Social work caseload estimation. (10) Number of New Cancer Cases referred to a Tertiary Cancer Centre.

The work developed thus far focuses on the discipline of social work. However work is underway to adapt the framework for the discipline of psychology.  CAPO is committed to adapt the framework for the various disciplines reflective of the membership. The guideline is meant to be fluid and adapted as more data on PSO staffing ratios and PSO caseloads becomes available across Canada.

Accessing the Framework and Calculator: The Framework and Calculator are available at no cost to all CAPO members. If you are interested in accessing these tools, you can join CAPO here. There are many other advantages to being a CAPO member including opportunities to connect with a vast network of PSO clinicians and administrators across Canada, reduced rates for our annual conference and access to webinars and many different research opportunities. 

CAPO members can access the framework and calculator here:



CAPO’s Position Statement – Role of Psychosocial Oncology in Medical Assistance in Dying (MAID)

Under the direction of the CAPO Clinical Advisory Committee a working group of CAPO members has developed a position paper on MAID. This position statement is intended to clarify the role of psychosocial oncology services and psychosocial oncology clinicians in responding to patient inquiries about MAID. This paper can be accessed at:

CAPO MAID Position Statement PDF

We thank Drs Doris Howell, Keith Wilson, Madeline Li, Harvey Chochinov, Eric Wasylenko, Jennifer Bell, Jacynthe Rivest and Chad Hammond for their work on this position statement.

CAPO is looking for in-kind support to translate this position statement into French. If members are aware of local resources available for in-kind translation services, please contact [email protected]


The Canadian Association of
Psychosocial Oncology (CAPO)

189 Queen Street East, Suite 1
Toronto, ON M5A 1S2
P. 416-968-0207
[email protected]

Privacy Policy | CAPO By-laws
© 1993-2024 - CAPO/ACOP


The Canadian Association of Psychosocial Oncology • Association Canadienne d'Oncologie Psychosociale
Website powered by Funnel Communications