Dr. Dorcas Beaton

Senior Scientist
PhD, Health Measurement, University of Toronto

Dr. Dorcas Beaton has a thing for hands. As she explains it, “hands are a tool for both work and expression. They embody creativity. They touch. They’re incredibly complex and capable of both rough and delicate movement.”

Beaton entered the field of health and safety through her clinical work as a hand and upper extremity therapist. She knows better than most how vulnerable hands are to workplace injuries. Even in so-called non-manual jobs, where much of the work is done with computers, hand and upper limb motions and postures can lead to injury.

In her work as a senior scientist at the Institute for Work & Health, Beaton focuses on research questions about health measurement. Her doctoral research, for example, explored different ways of measuring health improvements following a workplace injury. She also leaves time in her work to focus on the recovery of injured workers—on their rehabilitation and return to meaningful work. 

How do you know if you’re better? As it happens, people gauge their recovery from a musculoskeletal condition in many different ways, with some adapting to a disability and others redefining what good health means, she says. For some, though, there are improvements to pain and functional limitations. We wanted to know how well our existing pain measures capture these improvements.

Beaton is the lead researcher behind the development of a health measurement scale named the DASH (Disabilities of the Arm, Shoulder and Hand) Outcome Measure. The DASH and its shorter version, QuickDASH, are among the most widely used clinical function scales in the world.

Beaton is an associate professor in the Department of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy at the University of Toronto. She has graduate appointments and supervises students in Rehabilitation Sciences and in the Clinical Epidemiology Program of Health Policy Management and Evaluation. Dr. Beaton is also a scientist at the Li Ka Shing Knowledge Institute of St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto, where she is director of the hospital's Mobility Program Clinical Research Unit.

Current projects: 

Development of OMERACT handbook offering guidance for instrument selection for core outcome measurement sets

DASH Outcome Measures: A review of the last 20 years and directions for the future

Accurate measurement of worker productivity in clinical research

Selected Publications: 

Kennedy CA, Beaton DE. A user’s survey of the clinical application and content validity of the DASH (Disabilities of the Arm, Shoulder and Hand) Outcome Measure. Journal of Hand Therapy, 2017; 30(1):30-40.e2

Pinsker E, Inrig T, Daniels TR, Warmington K, Beaton DE. Symptom resolution and patient-perceived recovery following ankle arthroplasty and arthrodesis. Foot & Ankle International, 2016; 37(12):1269-1276

Beaton DE, Dyer S, Boonen A, Verstappen SMM, Escorpizo R, Lacaille D, Bosworth A, Gignac MAM, Leong A, Purcaru O, Leggett S, Hofstetter C, Petersson IF, Tang K, Fautrel B, Bombardier C, Tugwell P. OMERACT filter evidence supporting the measurement of at-work productivity loss as an outcome measure in rheumatology research. Journal of Rheumatology, 2016; 43(1):214-22

Beaton DE, Terwee C, Singh J, Hawker G, Patrick D, Burke L, Toupin-April K, Tugwell P. A call for evidence-based decision-making when selecting outcome measurement instruments for summary of findings tables in systematic reviews: Results from an OMERACT working group. Journal of Rheumatology, 2015; 42(10):1954-61 

Tang K, Beaton DE, Hogg-Johnson S, Côté P, Loisel P, Amick BC III. Does the  upper-limb work instability scale predict transitions out of work among injured workers?  Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, 2015; 96(9):1658-65