Dr. Monique Gignac

Associate Scientific Director and Senior Scientist
PhD, Social Psychology, University of Waterloo

Dr. Monique Gignac has a longstanding interest in how people cope with and adapt to the challenges they face when living with a chronic, disabling condition, and in how people try to maintain participation in activities and roles that are important to them.

“Many chronic physical and mental health conditions create ongoing challenges for those living with them," says Gignac, who joined the Institute for Work & Health in 2012, where she is currently an associate scientific director and senior scientist. "That's because signs and symptoms of these conditions are often invisible and others don’t know people have them. As well, symptoms may be episodic or intermittent in their impact, making them highly unpredictable." 

"That creates a lot of stress and hard-to-answer questions," Gignac continues. "Should a person disclose their health condition at work? How does a person get support from others during times of difficulty without negatively affecting their career? What kinds of workplace adaptations and accommodations work?”

Gignac’s expertise is in the area of health and social psychology. Her research examines health models of disability, stress, coping and adaptation. Gignac uses mixed methods like surveys, qualitative designs and interventions, and her current research spans a range of health conditions, including arthritis, lupus, osteoporosis, diabetes, glaucoma, musculoskeletal injuries, Alzheimer’s disease, stroke and mental health conditions.

Because there are a number of gaps in assessing concepts relevant to working with a chronic disease, Gignac also has expertise in measurement development and evaluation. She has spearheaded work on new measures, including the Workplace Activities Limitations Scale (WALS), Social Role Participation Questionnaire (SRPQ), Chronic Illness Job Strain Scale (CIJSS), and the Work-Health-Personal Life Perceptions measure.

“My ultimate goal is to apply research to improve the health and work outcomes of individuals living with chronic disabling health conditions," she says.

Gignac, who is also a professor in the Dalla Lana School of Public Health at the University of Toronto and an affiliate scientist at the Krembil Research Institute at the University Health Network, has held a number of leadership positions. These include scientific co-director of the Canadian Arthritis Network, a Networks of Centres of Excellence (2008-2014) and chair of the Canadian Institutes of Health Research Advisory Board for Musculoskeletal Health and Arthritis (2011-2015). She has received recognition for her research with a Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Award, Distinguished Scholar and Lecturer Awards from the Association of Rheumatology Health Professionals (ARHP) in 2013 and 2014, and recognition for mentorship from the Health Care, Technology and Place (HCTP) Canadian Institutes of Health Care (CIHR) Strategic Research Training Program (2015).

Current projects: 

Conceal or reveal? Facilitators and barriers to older workers’ communication of accommodation needs in the workplace and the relationship to work outcomes

Sustainable work participation: Work disability prevention and improvement of employment outcomes among those with chronic, episodic health conditions

The impact of work on osteoarthritis: A systematic review

Employment needs and labour market experiences of older workers with arthritis and diabetes

Selected Publications: 

Wong IS, Smith PM, Ibrahim S, Mustard CA, Gignac MAM. Mediating pathways and gender differences between shift work and cognitive function. Occupational and Environmental Medicine, 2016; 73(11):753-760; doi:10.1136/oemed2016-103774

Jetha A, Badley EM, Beaton D, Fortin PR, Shiff NJ, Gignac MAM. Unpacking early work experiences of young adults with rheumatic disease: An examination of absenteeism, job disruptions and perceived productivity loss. Arthritis Care & Research, 2015; 67(9):1246-1254; doi: 10.1002/acr.22601

Gignac MAM, Cao X, McAlpine J. (2015). Availability, need for, and use of work accommodations and policies: Are they related to employment outcomes in people with arthritis? Arthritis Care & Research, 2015; 67(6):855-864; doi: 10.1002/acr.22508

Jetha A, Badley EM, Beaton D, Fortin PR, Shiff NJ, Rosenberg AM, Tucker LB, Mosher DP, Gignac MAM. Transitioning to employment with a rheumatic disease: The role of independence, overprotection and social support. Journal of Rheumatology, 2014; 41(12):2386-2394; doi: 10.3899/jrheum.140419

Wong IS, Smith PM, Mustard CA, Gignac MAM. For better or worse? Changing shift schedules and the risk of work injury among men and women. Scandinavian Journal of Work, Environment and Health, 2014; 40(6):621-630; doi: 10.5271/sjweh.3454

Gignac MAM, Lacaille D, Beaton DE, Backman CL, Cao X, Badley, EM. Striking a balance: Work-health-personal life conflict in women and men with arthritis and its association with work outcomes. Journal of Occupational Rehabilitation, 2014; 24(3):573–584; doi: 10.1007/s10926-013-9490-5

Gignac MAM, Backman CL, Kaptein S, Lacaille D, Beaton DE, Hofstetter C, Badley EM. Tension at the borders: Perceptions of role overload, conflict, strain and facilitation in work, family and health roles among employed individuals with arthritis. Rheumatology, 2012; 51: 324-332; doi: 10.1093/rheumatology/ker317