May 29, 1950

(Moncton, NB)


MScN, University of Toronto (1979)
PhD, University of Toronto (1986)

Awards & Honours:

2018: Officer, Order of Canada

2013: Fellow, Royal Society of Canada

See All Awards
Picture of Annette O'Connor

Led a transformation in the way health care providers think about medical decision making

Dr. Annette O'Connor

A passionate advocate for patient engagement

The complexity of modern medical care can sometimes overwhelm patients, often when they are most vulnerable. Facing difficult choices among multiple treatment options, patients may feel unsure, uninformed, and distressed. Actively engaging patients in their own treatment and supporting them in shared decision-making with physicians and caregivers is the life’s work of Dr. Annette O’Connor, Distinguished Professor Emerita at the University of Ottawa School of Nursing. O’Connor’s research, focusing on the relationship between the expertise of health professionals and the human needs of patients, provides guidelines for achieving effective and informed decision-making, joining technical and procedural know-how with patients’ individual values and self-determination.

Key Facts

Her contributions to the field of shared decision-making include the Ottawa Decision Support Framework and The Decisional Conflict Scale

Developed one of the most cited frameworks for decision aid development and is used in training programs in a variety of countries

Participated in over 100 projects and has over 400 peer-reviewed publications

Advised policy makers at local, provincial, and international levels

Developed an on-line training in decision support for health professionals that has been used around the world

Co-Led four international summer institutes to train the next generation of shared-decision making leaders

Professional timeline

Impact on lives today

Annette O’Connor’s extensive research, organizational skill and inspired leadership has unquestionably contributed to the movement towards collaborative partnership in medical care. In an era of information overload and multiple treatment and healthcare options, her conceptual framework, decision support tools, evaluation measures, training programs and international standard setting have all greatly improved the quality of decision support for both patients and clinicians. In 2018 alone, over 50,000 individuals visited the online inventory of patient decision aids.

Picture of Annette O'Connor


  • Annette O’Connor inducted into the Canadian Medical Hall of Fame

    Virtual Ceremony (originally scheduled for Vancouver, British Columbia)

  • The Ottawa Health Decision Centre launched the “iShould” App

    The goal of the app is to educate individuals from every generation about their health decision-making needs.

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    Dr. O’Connor founded and co-led the Inaugural International Patient Decision Aids Standards Collaboration

    Public Health, Health Promotion & Advocacy

    A 14-country consortium, the aim of the project was to reach consensus on quality standards for patient decision aids.

  • Dr. Annette O’Connor and her team established the first open access international inventory of patient decision aids and decision guides.

    Public Health, Health Promotion & Advocacy

    These resources, now publicly available online, have helped inform and improve health care practices worldwide.

  • Demonstrating her leadership on an international scale, Dr. O’Connor co-led the Oxford Forum on Shared Decision Making

    Public Health, Health Promotion & Advocacy, Patient Care

    This initiative led to the creation of the biennial International Shared Decision Making Conferences.

  • Led the first Cochrane Collaboration Review of Patient Decision Aid trials

    Published in the prestigious 'British Medical Journal', the review highlighted the limitations of traditional approaches used to inform patients.

  • The Ottawa Health Decision Center was founded by Annette O'Connor and her team

    Public Health, Health Promotion & Advocacy, Women in Medicine

    O’Connor and her team produced ground-breaking measures, frameworks, decision aids, training programs and health service delivery models.

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    O’Connor joined the University of Ottawa’s School of Nursing

    In time, as a result of her commitment to interdisciplinary collaboration, she held cross appointments in the Faculty of Medicine, the Ottawa Hospital Research Institute’s Clinical Epidemiology Program, and the Institute of Population Health.


All of her work has been grounded in the patient experience and patient need.