Colleen McGrath, PhD

Associate Professor

Room 2541, EC
519 661-2111 x81174
Vital Research Lab
Google Scholar


  • Postdoctoral Fellowship (Ontario Shores Centre for Mental Health Sciences)
  • PhD (Western)
  • MSc Occupational Therapy (McMaster)
  • BA Health Studies and Gerontology (McMaster)

Graduate Program Supervision

  • Health and Rehabilitation Sciences MSc | PhD

Research In Profile

Professor Colleen McGrath is a leading Canadian researcher whose innovative program of research is focused on the occupational needs of older adults experiencing age-related vision loss (ARVL; including macular degeneration, glaucoma, and diabetic retinopathy). Her research is situated in critical theoretical approaches, including critical gerontology and disability studies. Professor McGrath’s work adopts a qualitative approach, often utilizing participatory methods of data collection.

Featured Publications and Projects

Articles in Peer-Reviewed Journals

  • Fuchigami, K., McGrath, C., Bengall, J., Kim, S., & Laliberte Rudman, D. (2022). Assistive Technology Use Among Older Adults with Vision Loss: A Critical Discourse Analysis of Canadian Newspapers. Canadian Journal on Aging 41(2), 154-163.
  • Kang, J., McGrath, C., Laliberte Rudman, D., & Hand, C. (2022). The role of social networks in the occupational engagement of older adults with age-related vision loss: A narrative inquiry. OTJR: Occupation, Participation and Health.
  • McGrath, C., Karsan, I., Corrado, AM., Lyons, TA., & Blue, M. (2021). The impact of combined age-related vision loss and dementia on the participation of older adults: A scoping review. PLOS One, 16(2), 1-17.
  • McGrath, C., & Hand, C. (2021). Engagement in the social context of the neighbourhood: A critical ethnographic study of older adults with age-related vision loss (ARVL). Wellbeing, Space & Society, 2 (100041).
  • McGrath, C., & Laliberte Rudman, D. (2019). Using participant observation to enable critical understandings of disability in later life: An illustration conducted with older adults with low vision. International Journal of Qualitative Methods, 18, 1-11.
  • Benjamin-Thomas, TE., Corrado, AM., McGrath, C., Laliberte Rudman, D., & Hand, C. (2018). Working towards the Promise of Participatory Action Research: Learning from Ageing Research Exemplars. International Journal of Qualitative Methods, 17(1), 1-13.

Visit Google Scholar for a comprehensive list of publications.

Current Grants and Research Projects

  • McGrath, C., Laliberte Rudman, D., Hand, C., Sukhai, M., Stone, M., Fitzgeorge, B., & Price, D. (2020-2025). Enacting a critical participatory action research process with older adults aging with vision loss: A focus on community mobility. SSHRC Insight Grant. $220,432.
  • McGrath, C., Laliberte Rudman, D., Hand, C., Sukhai, M.,(2020-2022). A photo-elicitation study with older adults with age-related vision loss (ARVL): A focus on risk. FHS Catalyst Grant. $10,000.

Featured Graduate Student Projects

"It's not that I have Parkinson's, I am Parkinson's": The management and negotiation of identity in older adults with Parkinson's disease.

  • Sheldrake, Elena (2019). MSc, Health and Rehabilitation Sciences.

Navigating the “Blind World”: The Psychosocial Experiences of Parents of Adolescents with Visual Impairments.

  • Cao, Peiwen (2020). MSc, Health and Rehabilitation Sciences.

Occupational Engagement of Older Adults with Age-Related Vision Loss: Understanding the Influence of Social Networks.

  • Kang, Melissa (2021). MSc, Health and Rehabilitation Sciences.

The Psychological Coping Strategies of Older Adults with Age-Related Vision Loss: A Narrative Account.

  • Stampp, Zakara (2022). MSc, Health and Rehabilitation Sciences.

Visit Scholarship@Western for a list of completed student theses and dissertations in the repository.

Graduate Student Opportunities

Vision Loss in Later Life Research Lab (VITAL)

Prospective students have the opportunity to join an existing project related to age-related vision loss or can propose their own qualitative research project related to older adults. Email professor McGrath directly for more information.

Additional Information


  • 2022: School of Occupational Therapy Excellence in Teaching Award.
  • 2017-2020: Faculty of Health Science Award for Teaching Excellence

Professional Activities

  • 2021- Present. Chair, Ontario Society of Occupational Therapists (OSOT) En-AGE Advisory Council (see:
  • 2021. Peer Reviewer of the World Health Organization (WHO) Package of Eye Care Interventions (PECI) on Vision Rehabilitation.
  • 2020-Present. Item Generation Coordinator, National Occupational Therapy Certification Exam (NOTCE), Canadian Association of Occupational Therapists.
  • 2016-Present. Member, Canadian Association of Occupational Therapists (CAOT) Occupational Therapy and Vision Rehabilitation Network (OTVRN).