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Faculty Member

Amy McPherson PhD, CPsychol, AFBPsS

Email Address(es)
Office Phone
416 425 6220 x6378
Office Address
Bloorview Research Institute, Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital 150 Kilgour Road Toronto, ON M4G 1R8
Social & Behavioural Health Sciences Division
Associate Professor
SGS Status
Full Member
Appointment Status
Status Only
Currently Accepting Doctoral Students?

Research Interests

  • children and youth
  • chronic conditions / disability
  • health and well-being/ health promotion
  • obesity
  • sexuality
  • disordered eating
  • healthcare consultations

Education & Training History

I have a PhD in Health Psychology from the University of Nottingham, UK, and am a Chartered Psychologist with the British Psychological Society. I am currently undertaking psychotherapy training.

Current Research Projects

  • Connect to Create: Mobilizing knowledge of sexuality in children and young people with disabilities to create capacity across Canada. Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council.
  • Exploring the extent and nature of disordered eating in adolescents and young adults with spina bifida and hydrocephalus across Canada. Spina Bifida and Hydrocephalus Association of Canada.
  • Children and Teens in charge of their health (CATCH): A feasibility study of solution-focused coaching to foster healthy lifestyles in children and young people with physical disabilities. Canadian Institutes of Health Research.
  • Families’ recommendations for improving health services for managing obesity in children with disabilities. Canadian Institutes of Health Research.
  • Putting positive weight-related conversations into practice: Driving the uptake of a strengths-based Knowledge Translation (KT) Casebook in a nursing context. Centres for Leadership.
  • Nobody is talking with me about sex! A needs-assessment study to explore information and communication needs of children and young people around sexuality. Accessibility Excellence in Research Award.
  • What are the mental health and wellness needs of young adults with spina bifida? Phase 2 of a stakeholder engagement project. Centres for Leadership.
  • Integrating wellness promotion into Special Olympic programs: developing a principles- focused evaluation framework. Special Olympics Canada.
  • Integrating wellness goals into personalized care pathways for children and youth with disabilities. Centres for Leadership.
  • Optimizing life success through residential immersion life skills programs for Youth with Disabilities. Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council. 

Representative recent publications

  • McPherson, AC, Oake, M, Stinson, J. (2020) “Don’t sweat it buddy, it’s OK”: An exploration of the needs of adolescents with disabilities when designing a mobile application for weight management and healthy lifestyles. Disability and Rehabilitation 42 (1): 1569-1577.
  • McPherson, AC, Amin, R, McAdam, L, Kalnins, D, Lui, T. (2020) Growth assessment and weight management in paediatric neuromuscular clinics: A cross-sectional survey across Canada. Disability and Rehabilitation (early online 14 February).
  • Bonder, R, Provvidenza, C, Hubley, D, McPherson, AC. (2020). Putting Positive Weight-Related Conversations into Practice: The pilot implementation of a knowledge translation casebook. Child: Care, Health and Development 46 (3): 360-368.
  • Cistrone, A, McTavish, K, Kingsnorth, S, McPherson, AC. (2020) Communication tools used in childhood obesity discussions: A scoping review. Child: Care, Health and Development (early online 26 August).
  • Walker, M & McPherson, AC. (2020) Weight management services for an underserved population: A rapid review of the literature. Disability and Rehabilitation 42 (2): 274-282.
  • Walker, M, Nixon, S, Haines, J, McPherson, AC (2020) “I work out, who cares if I’m bigger”: What matters to youth with ASD regarding weight and their bodies? Developmental Neurorehabilitation 23(1): 31-38.
  • Klupt, KA, Oreskovich, SM, Bernard-Genest, J, Chu, L, Dettmer, E, Walsh, CM, Strom, M, McPherson, AC, Strub, J, Steinberg, A, Steinegger, C, Hamilton, J. (2020) Careful Conversations: An Educational Video to Support Parents in Communicating About Weight with their Children. BMC Pediatrics 20: 397.
  • Bernard-Genest, J, Chu, L, Dettmer, E, Walsh, C, McPherson, A, Strub, J, Steinberg, A, Steinegger, C, Hamilton, J. (2020) Talking about Weight with Families – Helping Health Care Professionals Start the Conversation: A Non-Randomized Controlled Trial. Clinical Pediatrics 59 (9-10): 910-917.
  • McPherson, AC, Biddiss, E, Chen, L, Terrien Church, P, de Groot, JF, Keenan, S, King, GA, Lui, T, Maltas, D, Merette, C, Moffet, H, Moola, FJ, Schwellnus, H. (2019) Children and Teens in Charge of their Health (CATCH): A protocol for a feasibility randomized controlled trial of solution-focused coaching to foster healthy lifestyles in childhood disability. BMJ Open 9 (3).
  • Hamdani, Y, Yee, T, Oake, M, McPherson, AC (2019) Multi-stakeholder perspectives on perceived wellness of Special Olympics athletes. Disability and Health Journal 12: 422-430.
  • Walker, M, Nixon, S, Haines, J, McPherson, AC. (2019) Examining risk factors for overweight and obesity in children with disabilities: A Commentary on Bronfenbrenner’s Ecological Systems Framework. Developmental Neurorehabilitation 22 (5): 359-364
  • Jachyra, P, Anagnostou, E, Petta, C, Cosgrove, S, Chen, L, Capano, L,  Moltisanti, L, Knibbe, TJ, McPherson, AC.  (2019) “Girls don’t have big tummies”: The experiences of weight-related discussions for children with Autism Spectrum Disorder. Autism 23(5): 1096-1105.
  • Provvidenza, C, Hartman, L, McPherson, AC. (2018) Fostering positive weight-related conversations between healthcare professionals, children and families: Development of a knowledge translation Casebook and evaluation protocol. Child: Care, Health and Development 45(1): 138-145
  • McPherson, AC, Knibbe, TJ, Peters, M, Swift, JA, Browne, N, Ball, GDC,  Hamilton, J. (2018) Fat is really a four-letter word: Exploring weight-related communication best practices in children with and without disabilities and their caregivers. Child: Care, Health and Development 44(4): 636-643.
  • McPherson, AC, McAdam, L, Keenan, S, Schwellnus, H, Biddiss, E, DeFinney, A, English, K. (2018) A feasibility study using solution-focused coaching for health promotion in children and young people with Duchenne muscular dystrophy. Developmental Neurorehabilitation, 21 (2) 121-130 (early online 8 March 2017).

Other recent publications

  • Duff, C, McPherson, AC, King, G. (2020) Residential Immersive Life Skills programs: a catalyst for facilitating emotional literacy development for youth with disabilities. Developmental Neurorehabilitation 23 (5): 294-301.
  • Moola, FJ, Moothathamby, N, Naganathan, M, Curran, CJ, Yarichuk, D & McPherson, AC. (2020) A Scoping Review of Music Therapy in the Lives of Children and Youth with Disabilities and Chronic Conditions in Non-Acute Medical and Community-Based Settings. Canadian Journal of Art Therapy 33 (1): 17-28.
  • Wolfson, Z, McPherson, AC, Tomasone, J, Faulkner, G & Arbour-Nicitopoulos, KP (2020) Examining factors of physical activity participation in youth with spina bifida using the Theoretical Domains Framework. Disability and Health Journal (early online 8 April).
  • Duff, C, McPherson, A, King, G, Kingsnorth, S. (2020) Deconstructing the pedagogy of Residential Immersive Life Skills programs: mechanisms that can facilitate learning for youth with disabilities. Journal of Research in Special Educational Needs 20 (2): 121-129.
  • King, G, McPherson, AC, Kingsnorth, S, Gorter, JW, Avery, L; Rudzik, A (2020) Opportunities, experiences, and outcomes of residential immersive life skills programs for youth with disabilities. Disability and Rehabilitation (early online 29 January).
  • Ballantyne, M, Orava, T, Bernardo, S, McPherson, AC, Church, P, Fehlings, D, Cohen, E. (2020) An environmental scan of parent-focused transition practices between neonatal follow up and children`s rehabilitation services. Developmental Neurorehabilitation 23 (2): 113-120 (early online 21 August 2019).
  • Scratch, S, Stevens, SA, King, G, Schwellnus, H, Searl, N, McPherson, AC. (2019) Mental health care in paediatric rehabilitation hospitals: A biopsychosocial, collaborative, and agency-based service integration approach. Developmental Neurorehabilitation (early online 5 Dec).
  • Duff, C, King, GA, McPherson, AC, Kingsnorth, S, Rudzik, AE (2019) Residential Immersive Life skills programs for youth with disabilities: Experiences of parents and shifts in parenting approaches. Journal of Adolescence 77: 139-146.
  • Kingsnorth, S, Rudzik, AEF, King, G, McPherson, AC. (2019) Residential immersive life skills programs for youth with disabilities: A case study of youth developmental trajectories of personal growth and caregiver perspectives. BMC Pediatrics 19: 413.
  • Edwards, BM, Cameron, D, King, G, McPherson, AC (2019) Contextual strategies to support social inclusion for children with and without disabilities in recreation. Disability and Rehabilitation (early online 12 October).
  • Orr, K, Grassman, V, Arbour-Nicitopoulos, K, McPherson, AC, Faulkner, G, Wright, FV. (2019) Children and youth with impairments in social skills and cognition in out-of-school time inclusive physical activity programs: A scoping review. International Journal of Developmental Disabilities (early online 28 May).
  • Cate-Carter, T, Schnurr, K, Stinson, J, McPherson, AC. (2019) Connected for health: Examining the use of a health-related social media platform for children with chronic medical conditions. Child: Care, Health and Development 45 (4): 585-591
  • Campos, C, Duck, M, McQuillan, R, Brazill, L, Malik, S, Hartman, L, McPherson, AC, Gibson, B.E, & Jachyra, P. (2019) Exploring the role of physiotherapists in the care of children with autism spectrum disorder. Physical & Occupational Therapy in Pediatrics 39 (6): 614-628.
  • Edwards, B, Cameron, D, King, GA, McPherson, AC. (2019) Exploring the shared meaning of social inclusion to children with and without disabilities in an inclusive arts-based recreation program. Journal of Disability, Development and Education (early online 13 March).

Knowledge translation products

Fostering positive weight-related conversations: Evidence and real-life learnings from the heart of care. A Knowledge Translation Casebook for healthcare professionals. Available at:

Simulation videos for having weight-related conversations in healthcare. Immediate access by emailing

Having body-positive conversations with children: A parent guide for confident conversations. Coming soon!