Health and Rehab SciWestern Health Sciences

Health & Aging

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The Health & Aging field of study in the Health & Rehabilitation Sciences graduate program is a scholarly, interdisciplinary, research-based program driven by research in a variety of aging-related thematic areas.

The program is housed in the Faculty of Health Sciences, with established, collaborative inter-faculty research partnerships with the Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry and the Faculty of Social Sciences. In addition, the program has established collaborative clinical and research partnerships with:

Field Goals

This field of study supports collaborative learning, with students and faculty mutually discovering and creating knowledge. As it encourages creativity, innovation, independence and initiative in seeking and acquiring knowledge, MSC/PhD students will:

  1. Develop an in-depth understanding of the complexities of aging across the lifespan, from prevention to end of life, and will explore significant health issues related to aging and age-related social determinants of health at individual, community, health system, and policy levels.

  2. Strengthen and apply their scientific inquiry skills, apply and advance their knowledge in research methods and issues related to aging.

  3. Expand their analytic and critical thinking skills by integrating evidence, theory, and practice in understanding and responding to significant issues related to aging.

  4. Establish and/or broaden collaborative research and practice partnerships relevant to aging within the university environment, its affiliated research institutions, community health agencies, and communities of seniors.

Field Requirements

Students must complete three mandatory half-credit courses:

Methods Course

MSc Courses

HS 9601a - Quantitative Methods in Health Sciences - 0.5 credit
*HS 9515 (statistics) is strongly recommended as a precursor to this course.
This course is designed to provide participants with an introduction to quantitative research methods, including basic research study design and the skills and practice necessary to determine the internal validity of evidence found in the health sciences literature. We will specifically address the validity of studies evaluating effectiveness of interventions (randomized trials, cohort and case control studies), diagnostic tests, risk factors, development of disease, and disease prognosis and conclude the course with an introduction to systematic review.

HS 9602a - Qualitative Research Methods in Health Sciences - 0.5 credit
This course provides a comprehensive introduction to the qualitative paradigm and its current and potential applications in health and rehabilitation sciences. The philosophical assumptions that form an integral part of the qualitative paradigm will be examined, as will the assumptions underlying various qualitative schools of inquiry (e.g., grounded theory, phenomenology, ethnography, action research, narrative). Key considerations in the critical evaluation and design of qualitative studies within several schools of inquiry relevant to health and rehabilitation sciences will be addressed. Students will have opportunities to engage in critical analysis of qualitative research; discuss ethical issues related to the conduct of qualitative research; and engage in the process of proposal development within a group.

PhD Courses

HS 9707a - Linear Regression for Health & Rehabilitation Sciences - 0.5 credit
*HS 9601 is recommended as a precursor to this course

This course is an introduction to linear regression for health sciences, examining simple regression, multiple regression, the use of categorical independent variables, and the fitting of interaction terms. Although formulas are given and calculations are presented, the principal orientation of the course is conceptual rather than mathematical.

HS 9708 - Advanced Topics in Qualitative Research - 0.5 credit
*HS 9602 is recommended as a precursor to this course

This course will give learners the opportunity to learn how to rigorously and systematically analyse qualitative data in the form of interview transcripts from a study on women's experience of aging and osteoporosis. The course will begin with a review of the three key qualitative approaches or research designs used in the health sciences (grounded theory, qualitative case study and phenomenology). Next, we will highlight how the approaches are shaped by specific research paradigms (post-positivism, interpretivism/constructivism or critical theory).

HS 9709b - ANOVA-based Methods of Data Analysis - 0.5 credit
*HS 9601 is recommended as a precursor to this course

This course will explore ANOVA based methods of data analysis, including t test, ANOVA, ANCOVA, Split-plot ANOVA, Factorial ANOVA, and MANOVA.

HS 9730b - Philosophical Foundations of Qualitative Research - 0.5 credit
*HS 9602 is recommended as a precursor to this course

This course provides an introduction to philosophical foundations of qualitative research with a particular focus on interpretive and critical paradigms of inquiry. Assumptions about what constitutes knowledge (epistemology), the nature of existence (ontology), and means for gaining knowledge (methodology) within different knowledge paradigms are considered. Students examine philosophical and theoretical perspectives that underpin various schools to qualitative inquiry and identify perspectives relevant to the coherent and rigorous design of research. Within this course, students explore perspectives that relate to their own research interests; expand their familiarity with the specialized terminology adopted in qualitative research; consider approaches to representing, writing and publishing qualitative research; and investigate implications for the design and evaluation of qualitative research in health and social care. This course is highly recommended for doctoral level students completing a qualitative research dissertation, and is open to highly motivated Masters level students wishing to deepen their research knowledge.

Field Based Course or Equivalent

HS 9640 - Demography of Aging - 0.5 credit
This interdisciplinary graduate course examines critical issues related to population aging, health care challenges driven by an aging population, and implications for health policy, education and research. The course will examine demographic trends, successful aging, the global burden of disease, compression of morbidity, the concept of frailty, conceptual frameworks and models that guide care of the elderly, health system design and capacity, and emerging new national and international trends.

HS 9740b - Current Topics in Health & Aging - 0.5 credit
Current topics in health and aging is a seminar course designed to stimulate critical thinking in the area. Students are expected to actively participate in seminars through informed discussions on current topics in health and aging and presentation of their on-going research activities.

HS 9641 - Bio-Psycho-Social Dimensions of Aging - 0.5 credit
This research-based seminar style course investigates bio-psycho-social dimensions of aging on the individual level. Students will be introduced to and encouraged to discuss theories of aging while using an interdisciplinary approach to examine the physical, psychological and social changes a person experiences with aging. Students will be challenged to simulate aging, engage in self-reflection, explore assessment tools in gerontology, partner with a senior for a case study, conduct measurements of an elder’s bio-psycho-social status, and learn how to prepare and deliver a short lecture, abstract, poster and essay.

Elective (Recommended by Advisory Committee)

HRS course electives include:

  • HS 9623 - Perspectives in Knowledge Translation
  • HS 9632 - Current Topics in Child & Youth Health
  • HS 9801 - Motor Control

Course electives offered by other programs:

  • Nursing 9685 - Policy Development & Analysis I

As necessary, students may need to take the courses listed below as pre- or co-requisite courses.

HS 9515a - Introduction to Statistics for Health & Rehabilitation Sciences - 0.5 credit
This is an introductory statistics course for students entering the Graduate Program in Health and Rehabilitation Sciences. It includes data presentation and normalization, types of variables and levels of measurement, descriptive statistics, and hypothesis testing using both nonparametric and parametric procedures. This course is designed to introduce techniques used to analyze quantitative data used in health-related research and allied fields. Emphasis will be placed on the basic concepts of quantitative analysis including an introduction to multivariate analysis, and the use of statistical software.

HS 9516a - Introduction to Research Methods Health & Rehabilitation - 0.5 credit
This course addresses foundational knowledge and skills contributing to the development of students as early researchers. In this course, students will explore the philosophical assumptions underlying qualitative and quantitative methodologies, develop an appreciation of the potential contributions of various types of research, and reflect on their own assumptions and values regarding what they view as credible knowledge and ways of knowing. Students will discuss essential research elements, ethical principles and quality criteria relevant to qualitative and quantitative methodologies and designs, and will begin to develop critical appraisal skills.

Students must attend and participate in Seminar Milestones:

HRS Common Seminar

1 year

Several seminars are open to all faculty and students in the HRS program, and are regularly scheduled thorough the academic year. Announcements about the speaker and specific topics addressed in each seminar will be provided via e-mails (Amber Trent) and posted on the HRS seminar board. Topics and format of these seminars may vary. A student may be required to attend one or more of these seminar series depending on their field and/or based on the recommendations of their advisory committee.

The Health and Rehabilitation Sciences (HRS) Common Seminar is a required program milestone. MSc and PhD students must attend regularly the seminar in their first year of enrolment in the HRS Program. The seminar is intended to provide a forum for scholarly interactions among students registered in the various fields comprising the HRS program. In addition, the seminar is designed and will be run to foster the development of research skills necessary for graduate school success.

Participation in Field Based Seminar

1 year for MSc; 2 years for PhD

Health Professional Education Seminar Series
This is a seminar series for students and faculty in the HPE field. It is typically held every two weeks over the fall and winter terms. Students and faculty have the opportunity to present work-in-progress for formative feedback from the Health Professional Education Community of Practice Group. This seminar series offers the opportunity for members of the group to present and discuss their scholarly work, prior to presenting at conferences, or to other groups. MSc students take part in at least one presentation (e.g. thesis proposal, work-in-progress, practice talk as part of preparation for a conference presentation or defense preparation). PhD students present their thesis proposals here, once approved by their committees, and are encouraged to present other work-in-progress. Faculty members are invited to share their work in this venue. Attendance is mandatory for MSc and PhD students in the first year of the program and highly recommended thereafter.

All PhD students must pass a formal comprehensive examination as a requirement of the PhD degree:

Comprehensive Examination (PhD Requirement)

The exam consists of a written paper of publishable quality in peer-reviewed manuscript or book chapter format.

The purpose of the comprehensive examination is to:

  • Demonstrate scholarly writing
  • Demonstrate a critical synthesis of theory and literature
  • Situate the student’s planned research within the field, including theory, research literature, and research methods

This paper will be evaluated by the Comprehensive Examination Committee: the student’s supervisor; one member of the student’s advisory committee; and one person external to the student’s advisory committee (who may be external to the field, program, or university, as long as s/he is approved by the Health & Rehabilitation Sciences program).

The exam must be completed successfully in order for students to begin the thesis phase.