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Ellen MacEachen, MSc, PhD

Associate Professor, School of Public Health and Health Systems, University of Waterloo

Co-Director, Centre for Research on Work Disability Policy
Senior Scientist (Adjunct), Institute for Work and Health
Associate Professor (Status), Dalla Lana School of Public Health

School of Public Health and Health Systems
Faculty of Applied Health Sciences
University of Waterloo
200 University Avenue West, LHN 3716
Waterloo, ON, Canada  N2L 3G1
519-888-4567 x37248


To view Ellen's profile in the University of Waterloo's Faculty of Public Health and Health Systems,  please click here.
To view Ellen's profile in the Institute of Work and Health, please click here.
Ellen's profile in the Dalla Lana School of Public Health is available to view here.


Ellen MacEachen is a medical sociologist who conducts and mentors qualitative sociological research on work and health issues. Her main research interests are exploring systemic and organizational determinants of occupational health, and how qualitative research methods can inform policy and practice in work and health. She has had an ongoing involvement with qualitative methodology, with projects ranging from participant observation of community based living for persons with developmental disabilities, to a Foucauldian-informed institutional ethnography of workplace health management, to systematic reviews of qualitative literature, to the development of qualitative findings into knowledge transfer & exchange tools.

Dr. MacEachen is an Academic Fellow and founding member of the Centre for Critical Qualitative Health Research. She is an Associate Professor at the School of Public Health and Health Systems at University of Waterloo. She is also a Senior Scientist at the Institute for Work & Health, and an Assistant Professor at the Dalla Lana School of Public Health, University of Toronto where she has taught the senior graduate qualitative methods course, Qualitative Research Practice. MacEachen also leads the qualitative methods course at the CIHR Work Disability Prevention Training Program, where she is one of the mentors to an international body of students focused on occupational health careers. Dr. MacEachen is an Associate Editor of the Journal of Occupational Rehabilitation, and President of the Canadian Association for Research on Work & Health.

Research Interests

Ellen's research interests include: work disability policy, organisation of occupational health systems, disability management and labour force participation, injured and vulnerable workers, and qualitative methods.

Sample Publications

MacEachen, E., Saunders, R., Lippel, K., Kosny, A., Mansfield, L., Carrasco, C. (July 2014). Final report: Understanding the management of injury prevention and return to work in temporary work agencies. Institute for Work & Health.

MacEachen, E. and Kosny, A. Qualitative Evidence in Occupational Health. In Olson, K., Young, R., Schultz, I. (Eds.), Handbook of Qualitative Research for Evidence-Based Practice, Springer-Science (in press).

Saunders, S.L., MacEachen, E., Nedelec, B. Understanding and building upon effort to return to work by the long-term work disabled and unemployed. Work (in press).

Tjulin, A., MacEachen, E. (Co-PA) The importance of workplace social relations in the return to work process - a missing piece in the return-to-work puzzle? In Schultz & R Gatchel (Eds.), Handbook of Return-to-Work: From Research to Practice. New York: Springer Publishing. (in press)

MacEachen, E., Polzer, J. “You are free to set your own hours": Governing worker productivity and health through flexibility and resilience. In Polzer, J. and Power, E, (Eds).Risky Subjects, Healthy Citizens: Studies in Canadian Governmentality, McGill-Queens Press (in press).

Seing, I., MacEachen, E., Stahl, C., Ekberg, C. Early-return-to-work in the context of an intensification of working life and changing employment relationships. Journal of Occupational Rehabilitation. Early pub online 12 June 2014: DOI 10.1007/s10926-014-9526-5.

Laberge, M., MacEachen, E., Calvet, B. (2014). Why are occupational health and safety training approaches not effective? Understanding young worker learning processes using an ergonomic lens. Safety Science 68:250-257.

Kosny, A., MacEachen, E., Smith, P., Lifshen, M. (2014). Another person in the room: Using interpreters during interviews with injured, immigrant workers in Canada, Qualitative Health Research, 24 (6), 837-845.

Dunstan, D., MacEachen, E. (2014). A theoretical model of co-worker responses to work reintegration processes, Journal of Occupational Rehabilitation, 24 (2), 189-198.

Stahl, C., MacEachen, E., Lippel, K. (2014). Exploring ethical perspectives in the field of work disability prevention and return to work. Journal of Business Ethics, 120, 237-250.

MacEachen, E., Kosny, A., Ferrier, S., Lippel, K., Neilson, C., Franche, R.L., Pugliese, D. (2013). The ideal of consumer choice: challenges with implementation in an Ontario injured worker vocational retraining program. Disability and Rehabilitation 35(25), 2171-2179.

MacEachen, E. (2013) Understanding work disability systems and intervening upstream. In Loisel, P., Anema, H., Costa-Black, K., Feuerstein, M., MacEachen, E., Pransky, G. (Eds.), Handbook of Work Disability: Prevention and Management. Springer Press.

Loisel, P., Anema, H. (Editors) and Feuerstein, M., Pransky, G., MacEachen, E., Costa-Black, K., (Co-Editors). 2013 Handbook of Work Disability: Prevention and Management. Springer Press.

Dunstan, D., MacEachen, E. (2013) Bearing the brunt: Co-workers’ experiences of work reintegration processes. Journal of Occupational Rehabilitation, 23 (1), 44-54.

Mansfield, L., MacEachen, E., Tompa, E., Kalcevich, C.A (2012) Critical review of literature on experience-rating in workers’ compensation systems. Policy and Practice in Health and Safety, 10(1), 3- 25.

MacEachen, E., Lippel, K., Saunders, R., Kosny, A., Mansfield, L., Carrasco, C., Pugliese, D. (2012). Workers’ compensation experience rating rules and the danger to worker safety in the temporary work agency sector. Policy and Practice in Health and Safety, 10(1), 77-95.

MacEachen, E., Kosny, A., Ferrier, S., Lippel, K., Neilson, C., Franche, R.L., Pugliese, D. (2012) The ‘ability’ paradigm in vocational rehabilitation: challenges in an Ontario Injured worker retraining program, Journal of Occupational Rehabilitation, 22(1), 105-117.

MacEachen, E., Kosny, A., Ferrier, S., Chambers, L. (2010). The ‘toxic dose’ of system problems: why some injured workers don’t return to work as expected, Journal of Occupational Rehabilitation, 20(3), 349-366.

MacEachen, E., Kosny, A., Scott-Dixon, K., Facey, M., Chambers, L., Breslin, C., Kyle, N., Irvin, E., Mahood, Q. and the Small Business Systematic Review Team (2010). Workplace health understandings and processes in small businesses: A systematic review of the qualitative literature. Journal of Occupational Rehabilitation, 20(2):180-98.