CIHR Chair in Gender, Work and Health

In February 2013 Partnership Co-Lead Mieke Koehoorn was named a CIHR Research Chair in Gender, Work and Health. Her Chair supports Partnership projects investigating gender and sex differences in work injury and illness rates in BC, and gender and sex differences in work disability outcomes across compensation systems in Canada and internationally.

PhD and Masters research opportunities are available under Mieke’s supervision in this area. Interested students should contact Mieke with a CV and statement of interest. For example, PhD students Andrea Jones and Cheryl Peters are currently investigating the role of gender, sex, and mental health on disability duration, and occupational exposure to ultra violet light among male workers, respectively.

Gender/sex differences in workers’ compensation and work disability is an important and growing issue in Canada (and other jurisdictions) for many reasons, including:

  • The entry of women into a wider variety of high risk occupations and industries;
  • The steady increase in the rate of workforce participation for women aged 55 and older compared to men;
  • Emerging evidence that women have higher rates of injury/illness compared to men in the same jobs;
  • An aging workforce in Canada, coupled with a shift in retirement age and eligibility criteria for pensions;
  • Emerging evidence that older workers have more severe or disabling injuries/illnesses, that work-related injury/illness risk for women do not decline with age compared to men, and that women and men have different work disability experiences.

Program of research

We are conducting several population-based studies using administrative health databases (i.e. workers’ compensation claims) to investigate gender/sex differences in work injury and illness rates, and work disability or return-to-work outcomes, within the same occupation/industry groups by type of injury illness, over time, and by age groups. We also include comparisons across jurisdictions to identify system- or policy-level characteristics that may influence gender/sex differences.

This research program builds on prior Partnership work examining gender/sex differences in areas including shift work, sleep problems, and serious injuries.

What do we mean by gender/sex?

As described in the CIHR Gender, Sex and Health Research Guide, there are no definitive, universally accepted definitions of ‘gender’ or ‘sex’, but gender is usually associated with social constructs (roles, relationships, behaviours) for women and men; and sex is typically understood to refer to physical constructs (biology, physiology) for females and males. As stated by Nancy Kreiger (2003), individuals live both, simultaneously (a ‘gendered’ person and a ‘sexed’ organism), and both matter for health outcomes as part of an ‘ecosocial epidemiological perspective’.


Related Partnership publications

Differences between men and women in their risk of work injury and disability: A systematic review

Journal article
Biswas A, Harbin S, Irvin E, Johnston H, Begum M, Tiong M, Apedaile D, Koehoorn M, Smith P.
Am J Ind Med. 2022 Jul;65(7):576-588. doi: 10.1002/ajim.23364. Epub 2022 May 16.

Impact of anxiety and depression disorders on sustained return to work after work-related musculoskeletal strain or sprain: a gender stratified cohort study

Journal article
Jones AM, Koehoorn M, Bültmann U, McLeod CB.
Scand J Work Environ Health. 2021 Mar 21:3951. Online ahead of print.

Prevalence and risk factors for anxiety and depression disorders in workers with work-related musculoskeletal strain or sprain in British Columbia, Canada: a comparison of men and women using administrative health data

Journal article
Jones AM, Koehoorn M, Bültmann U, McLeod CB. 2021 Jan 22;oemed-2020-106661. Online ahead of print.

Men and women at work in Canada, 1991–2016

Journal article
Quinn E, Harper A, Rydz E, Smith P, Koehoorn M, Peters C.
Labour & Industry. 2021 Jan 20.

Does gender/sex matter for risk and compensation of activity-related soft tissue disorders?

Research brief investigating gender/sex-based differences in activity-related soft tissue disorders among workers in BC. July 2020.

Does gender/sex matter for risk and compensation of non-traumatic, work-related hearing loss?

Research brief investigating of gender/sex-based differences in work-related hearing loss among workers in BC. July 2020.

Is gender/sex associated with risk and compensation of work-related concussions?

Research brief investigating of gender/sex-based differences in work-related concussions among workers in BC. July 2020.

Gender Differences in Surgery for Work-Related Musculoskeletal Injury: A Population-Based Cohort Study

Journal article
Jones AM, Koehoorn M, McLeod CB.
Healthcare Policy. 2020 Feb;15(3):47-62.

Do Differences in Work Disability Duration Between Men and Women Vary by Province in Canada?

Journal article
Macpherson RA, Koehoorn M, Fan J, Quirke W, Amick BC, Kraut A, Mustard CA, McLeod CB.
J Occup Rehabil. 2019 Sep; 29(3):560-568.

Age, sex, and the changing disability burden of compensated work-related musculoskeletal disorders in Canada and Australia

Journal article
Macpherson R, Lane T, Collie A, McLeod C.
BMC Public Health. 2018;18:758.

Measuring gender when you don’t have a gender measure: constructing a gender index using survey data

Journal article
Smith P, Koehoorn M.
Int J Equity Health. 2016 May 28;15(1):82.

Gender Inequalities in Access to Health Care among Adults Living in British Columbia, Canada

Socías ME, Koehoorn M, Shoveller J.
Womens Health Issues. 2016 Jan-Feb;26(1):74-9.

Descriptive epidemiology of serious work-related injuries in British Columbia, Canada

Journal article
Fan J, McLeod C, Koehoorn M. PLoS ONE. 2012; 7(6): e38750.
Media release.

Exposure assessment in epidemiology: does gender matter?

Journal article
Kennedy S, Koehoorn M. American Journal of Industrial Medicine. 2003; 44(6):576-583.

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