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Faculty Member

Dorothy Linn Holness MD, MHSc, FRCPC, DTS, HonFFOM

Email Address(es)
Office Phone
(416) 864-5074
Office Address
St Michael's Hospital, 30 Bond St., Toronto, ON M5B 1W8
Occupational & Environmental Health Division
Professor Emerita
SGS Status
Member Emerita

Research Interests

Occupational skin disease – patch testing methodology and epidemiological studies, epidemiological studies of exposed populations, development of standardized data collection instruments, outcomes and health services utilization.

Occupational lung disease – epidemiological studies of exposed populations, association between measured exposures and lung function outcomes.

Occupational skin and lung disease – interaction between lung and skin as both sites of exposure and organ of response.

Occupational health service delivery models and evaluation, physician practice patterns, particular interest in the health care sector.

Marginalized populations – occupational health and safety in inner city workplaces, role of workplace injury in homelessness, spirituality and the homeless.

Primary Teaching Responsibilities

  • Director, Master of Science in Community Health, Occupational Health Care
  • Director, Diploma in Industrial Health
  • CHL 5904 – Perspectives in Occupational Health
  • CHL 5905 – Advnaced Clinical Studies in Occupational Health
  • Supervisor for Determinants of Community Health Year 2 Project
  • Supevisor of graduate students
  • Residency program teaching

Honours & Awards

    • Visiting Professor, Australasian College of Dermatology, May 8-19, 2006
    • Occupational and Environmental Medical Association of Canada, Meritorious Service Award, 2002

Honorary Fellow, Faculty of Occupational Medicine, Royal College of Physicians of London, 1997

Current Research Projects

Holness DL. Centre for Research Expertise in Occupational Disease. WSIB. $4,700,000, 2004-2016. (PI)

Tompa E, MacEachern E, (co-PI), Bornstein S, Neis B, Provencher Y, Durand M, Rioux M, Holness DL, Calvert J, Koehoorn M (provincial co-leads) et al. Income security and labour-market engagement: envisioning the future of disability policy in Canada. SSHRC Partnership Grant. $2,760,782, total budget $7,960,000, 2013-2020. (Ontario co-lead).

Stergiou Kita M, Jones J, Kirsh B, Holness DL, Van Eerd D. Cancer survivorship and successful return to work: exploring the role of workplace accommodations. Dean’s Fund New Staff Grant, $19,797, 2014 – 2016 (Collaborator).

Kramer D, Holness DL, Pefoyo A, Kudla I, Lightfoot N. From awareness to behavior change: exploring the impact of heightened awareness of workplace carcinogens in Sarnia and Sudbury. CCSRI, $197,734, 2014 – 2016. (Co-PI).

Nichol K, Holness DL, Copes R, Kersey K. Wet work – a high hazard activity in healthcare: screening for occupational contact dermatitis. Ontario Ministry of Labour Research for the Workplace. $296,229, 2014 – 2016. Co-PI.

Tenkate T, Strahlendorf P, Kramer D, Holness DL, Curley P, Green PJ, Marsh B, Wilson K, Barnard K. Sun at Work: a sun safety program initiative for outdoor workers. Canadian Partnership Against Cancer: Coalitions Linking Action and Science for Prevention 2 (CLASP2), $1,200,000, 2014 – 2017. (Co-I).

Kramer D, Holness DL, Lightfoot N, Kudla I, Arrandale V, Wells R. Completing the picture: collecting workplace exposure information from community health clinics’ patients. CCSRI and CIHR-ICR. $369,681, 2014 – 2017. (Co-PI).

Gewurtz R, Premji S, Holness DL. Exploring the experiences of injured workers who fail to return to work. CRWDP seed grant, 2015 – 2016, $9,996. (Collaborator)

Neis B, Bornstein S, Kraut A, Murray C, Holness DL, Davies H, Shortall M, Koehoorn M, Demers P, Stock S, Arrandale VH, Gao Z, Farquhar A. Towards the prevention of occupational disease in the personal services sector. Evidence for Practice. Worksafe BC Innovation at Work Program, $50,000, 2015 – 2016. (Investigator)

Lightfoot N, MacEwan L, Mayer C, Holness DL, Tufford L, Kramer D, McLeod T, Campbell D, Hill K. Who cares – the impact of mining-related lung cancer on care-givers in Sudbury and Elliot Lake. Northern Cancer Foundation, $4,977, 2015 – 2017.  (Collaborator)

Holness DL, House R. Development of an assessment tool to evaluate consultation letters for workers with work-related disease. AHSC AFP Innovation Fund, $2,230, 2015 – 2016.  (Co-PI)


Holness DL, Tabassum S, Tarlo SM, Liss G, Silverman F, Manno M. Dermatologist and family physician practice patterns for occupational contact dermatitis, Australas J Dermatol 2007;48, 22-27.

Holness DL, Tabassum S, Tarlo SM, Liss G, Silverman F, Manno M. Pulmonologist and family physician practice patterns for occupational lung disease. Chest 2007;132:1526-1531.

Nichol K, Bigelow P, McGeer A, O’Brien-Pallas L, Manno M, Holness DL. The individual, environmental and organizational factors that influence nurses’ use of facial protection to prevent occupational transmission of communicable respiratory illness in acute care hospitals, American Journal of Infection Control 2008;36:481-487.

Nichol K, Kudla I, Manno M, McCaskell L, Sikorski J, Holness DL. Form and function of joint health and safety committees in Ontario acute care hospitals. Healthcare Quarterly 2009;12:86-92.

Lynde C, Obadia M, Liss G, Ribeiro M, Holness DL, Tarlo SM. Investigating the relationship between occupational cutaneous symptoms, exposures and respiratory symptoms among professional cleaners. Occupational Medicine 2009;59:249-254.

Rowley K, Ajami D, Gervais D, Monney L, Solheim A, Kudla I, Holness DL, Switzer-McIntyre S. Glove use and education in workers with hand-arm vibration syndrome (HAVS). Cdn Acoustics 2011;39:116-117.

Holness DL. Workers with occupational contact dermatitis: work outcomes and return to work process in the first six months following diagnosis. J Aller 2011;2011:170693.

Arrandale VH, Liss GM, Tarlo SM, Pratt M, Sasseville D, Kudla I, Holness DL. Occupational contact allergens: are they also associated with occupational asthma? Am J Ind Med 2012;55:353-360.

Nichol K, McGeer A, Bigelow P, O’Brien-Pallas L, Scott J, Holness DL. The organizational, environmental and individual factors that influence nurses’ decisions to use facial protection to prevent occupational transmission of communicable respiratory illness in acute care hospitals. Am J Inf Cont, 2013;41:8-13.

Holness DL, Kudla I. Workers with occupational contact dermatitis: Workplace characteristics and prevention activities. Occup Med 2012;62:455-457.

Kim J, Arrandale VH, Kudla I, Mardell K, Lougheed MD, Holness DL. Educational intervention among farmers in a community health setting. Occup Med, 2012;62:458-461.

Arrandale VH, Kudla I, Kraut AG, Scott JA, Tarlo SM, Redlich C, Holness DL. Skin and respiratory symptoms among workers with suspected work-related disease. Occup Med 2012;62:420-426.

Baumann A, Holness DL, Norman P, Idriss-Wheeler D, Boucher P. The Ergonomic Implementation Continuum (EPIC): Integration of health and safety – a process evaluation in the healthcare sector. J Safety Res 2012;43:205-213.

Houle M, Holness DL., DeKoven J, Skotnicki S. Additive value of patch testing custom epoxy materials from the workplace at the Occupational Disease Specialty Clinic in Toronto. Dermatitis 2012;23:214-219.

Arrandale VH, Doekes G, Meijster T, Anjorka A, Heederik D, Redlich C, Holness DL. Exposure response relationships for skin symptoms among bakery and isocyante-exposed worker. Int Arch Occup Environ Health 2013;86:167-175.

Stefaniuk AB, duPlessis J, John SM, Eloff F, Agner T, Tzu-Chieh C, Nixon R, Steiner MFC, Kudla I, Holness DL. International guidelines for the in vivo assessment of skin properties in workplace settings: Part 1: pH. Skin Res Technol 2013;19:59-68.

Chambers A, Breslin C, Holness DL, Nichol K, Mustard C. Evaluating the implementation of health and safety innovations under a regulatory context: a multiple case study of Ontario’s safer needle regulation – study protocol. J Implem Sci. 2013;8:9.

Holness DL. Recent advances in occupational dermatitis. Curr Opinion Aller Clin Immunol, 2013;13:145-150.

duPlessis J, Stefaniuk AB, Eloff F, John SM, Agner T, Tzu-Chieh C, Nixon R, Steiner MFC, Kudla I, Holness L. International guidelines for the in vivo assessment of skin properties in workplace settings: Part 2: Transepidermal water loss and skin hydration. Skin Res Technol, 2013;19:265-278.

Holness DL, Harniman E, DeKoven J, Skotnicki Grant S, Beaton D, Nixon R, Switzer-McIntyre S. Hand and upper extremity function in workers with hand dermatitis. Dermatitis 2013;24:131-136.

Kuster SP, Coleman BL, Raboud J, et al. Risk factors for influenza among health care workers during 2009 pandemic, Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Emerg Infect Dis 2013;19:606-615.

Azad MB, Konya T, Maughan H et al. Gut microbiota of healthy Canadian infants: profiles by mode of delivery and infant diet at 4 months. CMAJ 2013;185:385-394.

Konya T, Koster B, Maughan H et al. Associations between bacterial communities and infant gut. Environ Res. 2014;131:25-30.

Holness DL. Occupational skin allergies: testing and treatment: the case of occupational contact allergic contact dermatitis. Curr All Asthma Rep 2014:Feb:14(2):410.

Holness DL, Liss G. The Ontario workplace health champions program. Occup Med 2014;64:447.

Nurmohamed S, Bodley T, Thompson A, Holness DL. Health care utilization and barriers to health care in patients undergoing patch testing. Dermatitis 2014;25:268-272.

Shin S, Holness DL. Screening for hand dermatitis in health care workers. Dermatitis 2014;25:281-282.

Holness DL. A multidisciplinary clinic for occupational disease. Occup Med 2015;65:106.

Bodley T, Nurmohamed S, Holness DL, House R, Thompson A. Healthcare barriers for workers with hand-arm vibration syndrome in Ontario, Canada. Occup Med 2015;65:154-156.

Killorn KR, Dostaler SM, Olajos-Clow J, Turcotte SE, Minard JP, Holness DL, Kudla I, Lemiere C, To T, Liss G, Tarlo SM, Lougheed MD. The development and reliability of a work-related asthma screening questionnaire. J Asthma 2014;Sept9:1-10.

Rozenbojm MD, Nichol K, Spielmann S, Holness DL. Hospital unit safety climate: relationship with nurses’ adherence to recommended use of facial protective equipment. Am J Inf Control 2015;43:115-120.

Burrows D, Houle M-C, Holness DL, DeKoven J, Skotnicki S. Additive value of patch testing custom isocyanate materials from the workplace at the Occupational Disease Specialty Clinic in Toronto. Dermatitis 2015;26:94-98.

Moraes TJ, Lefebvre DL, Chooniedass R et al. The Canadian healthy infant longitudinal development (CHILD) birth cohort study: biological samples and biobanking. Paed Perinat Epidemiol. 2015;29:84-92.

Fonacier L, Berstein DI, Pacheci K, Holness DL, Blessing-Moore J, Khan D, Lang D, Nicklas R, Oppenheimer J, Portnoy J, Randolph C, Schuller D, Spector S, Tiles S, Wallace D. Contact dermatitis: a practice parameter update – 2015. J Allergy Clin Immunol Pract. 2015;3(3)May/June:S1-S39.

Azad MB, Konya T, Guttman DS, et al. Infant gut microbiota and food sensitization: associations in the first year of life. Clin Exp Allergy 2015;45(3)632-643.

Holness DL, Hayes L, Nichol K, Kudla I, Nincic V. Joint health and safety committees – what is their impact in the acute care hospital. Work. in press

Kramer DM, Tenkate T, Strahlendorf P, Kushner R, Gardner A, b. Sun Safety at Work Canada: a multiple case-study protocol to develop sun safety and heat protection programs and policies for outdoor workers. Implem Sci. 2015 Jul 10;10:97 doi:10.1186/s13012-015-0277-2.

Nichol K, Eriksson J, Kersey K, Copse R, Spielmann S, Kendall A, Holness DL. Workplace screening for hand dermatitis: a pilot study. Occ Med, in press.

Chambers A, Mustard CA, Holness L, Nichol K, Breslin CF. Barriers to the adoption of safety-engineered needles following a regulatory standard: lessons learned from three acute care hospitals. Healthcare Policy 2015;11:90-101.

Subbarao P, Anand SS, Becker AB et al. The Canadian Healthy Infant Longitudinal Development (CHILD) Study: examining developmental origins of allergy and asthma. Thorax 2015;70:998-1000.

Kramer DM, McMillan K, Gross E, Bradley M, Kone Pefoyo AJ, Holness DL. From awareness to action: the community of Sarnia mobilizes to protect its workers from occupational disease. New Solutions: a Journal of Environmental and Occupational Health Policy, 2015;25:377-410.

Nichol K, Holness DL, Kersey K, Kendall A, Eriksson J, Copes R. Hospital screening and management practices related to occupational skin disease: Toronto experience. Ont Occup Health Nurses Assoc J 2015;34:3-6.

Rowley K, Ajami D, Gervais D, Mooney L, Belote A, Kudla I, Switzer-McIntyre S, Holness DL. Glove use and education in workers with hand dermatitis. Dermatitis, in press.

Kita-Stergiou M, Pitove C, Jones J, van Erd D, Duncan A, Kirsh B, Holness DL. Building a shared understanding of effective workplace accommodations following cancer – survivor, provider and employer perspectives, J Cancer Surviv DOI 10.1007/s11764-015-0492-5.

Azad MB, Konya T, Persaud RR, et al. Impact of maternal intrapartum antibiotics: method of birth and breastfeeding on gut microbiota during the first year of life: a prospective cohort study. BJOG 2015;Sept 28. Doi: 10/1111/1471-0528. [Epub ahead of print].

McKillop C, Parsons J, Brown J, Scott S, Holness DL. Rights, responsibilities and (Re)presentation: using drawings to convey health and safety messages among immigrant workers. Work, in press.