Marina Wasilewski, Rehabilitation Sciences Institute

Student’s Name: Marina Bastawrous Wasilewski
Supervisor’s Name and Title:  Dr. Jill Cameron, Associate Professor, Department of Occupational Science & Occupational Therapy
PhD Thesis Title:  Peer Similarity and Use of Online and In-person Supports Amongst Adult Children Carers: A Mixed Method Study.

Brief Thesis Overview:
Dr. Wasilewski surveyed 71 adult children caregivers about their perceptions of similarity with other caregivers and how similarity influences support received. She also interviewed 15 adult children caregivers about their experiences with online and in-person peer support. Overall, having more similarity with a peer was associated with higher perceptions of support from them. “Shared caregiving experience” was considered the most important aspect of peer similarity. Caregivers mobilized their existing networks of family, friends, and colleagues for support. They also used a blend of online and in-person modalities to meet various support needs. 

PhD research, scholarship and/or awards, publications; current position; future education plans and/or career goals.
Marina Bastawrous Wasilewski received her PhD from the Rehabilitation Sciences Institute at the University of Toronto. After witnessing her aunt care for her grandmother for many years, Dr. Wasilewski realized the importance of understanding and supporting this hidden population—namely, adult children caregivers.

For this reason, Dr. Wasilewski’s Masters and Doctoral research centered on caregiving relationships and peer support amongst adult children caregivers. Building on her Masters research with adult daughters caring for a parent who suffered a stroke, Dr. Wasilewski’s Doctoral research uniquely looked at adult children caregivers’ experiences with online versus in person peer support as well as the role of peer similarity in the social support process.  Dr. Wasilewski also championed the use of social media—specifically Twitter—for recruitment of participants and dissemination of information to important stakeholders. This innovative approach significantly enabled recruitment, and resulted in nation-wide CBC coverage of Dr. Wasilewski’s research. Dr. Wasilewski is a two-time recipient of a CIHR STIHR Fellowship in Healthcare, Technology and Place, as well as an Ontario Graduate Scholarship.

Dr. Wasilewski is currently a joint postdoctoral fellow with the Lawrence S. Bloomberg Faculty of Nursing & Saint Elizabeth Healthcare. Her research presently entails developing, piloting, and evaluating an online peer support program for caregivers of individuals requiring ventilators in the community. This work is supported by a Mitacs Elevate Postdoctoral Fellowship and a Muscular Dystrophy Canada grant. In collaboration with Saint Elizabeth Health Care, Dr. Wasilewski will be adapting the online peer support program to serve a rural Ontario hospice and their caregiving community.

Dr. Wasilewski envisions a career in academia, where her goal would be to have strong community partnerships that facilitate the uptake of supportive caregiving resources developed as part of her research program. In addition to the “research hat” that Dr. Wasilewski wears; she is also a passionate educator. Despite any successes with her research, she would not consider her role complete without the opportunity to teach future healthcare providers how to evaluate and use the best evidence available to support elders and their family caregivers.

Alum of Marina Wasilewski

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