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Meet The Lab

Lab Director

Dr. Meghan McMurtry

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C. Meghan McMurtry is an Associate Professor in Psychology at the University of Guelph, director of the Pediatric Pain, Health, and Communication Lab, and a Clinical and Health Psychologist with the Pediatric Chronic Pain Program at McMaster Children’s Hospital. Dr. McMurtry’s research and clinical interests focus on acute and chronic pain, medical procedure-related fear, as well as communication and family influences in these contexts. Dr. McMurtry was the Co-Principal Investigator and an Evidence Lead on the national Help Eliminate Pain in Kids and Adults Team which created two clinical practice guidelines regarding vaccination pain and needle fear management; aspects from the pain management guideline were endorsed for vaccinations worldwide by the World Health Organization (WHO). Recently, Dr. McMurtry was the sole psychologist on the small subcommittee for the WHO’s Global Advisory Committee on Vaccine Safety tasked with creating guidance on immunization stress-related responses. She also served as the sole psychologist on the 25 person Guideline Development Group representing 17 countries for the WHO’s Guideline for the Management of Chronic Pain in Children

Graduate Students

Master’s Students

Anastasia Mekhael

Anastasia Mekhael is a second-year master’s student in the Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology Program at the University of Guelph. Before joining the Pediatric Pain, Health, and Communication lab, Anastasia worked with caregivers and children, coordinating Emotion-Focused Family Therapy workshops. She also completed a Master of Science in Health Psychology at the Memorial University of Newfoundland where she examined the efficacy of oxytocin as an analgesic. Anastasia’s primary research interests surround the investigation of the emotional experiences related to chronic pain in children, including the interconnectedness of this experience to the behaviors of caregivers. She is also very interested in taking a patient-oriented approach to studying the implementation of interventions for treating chronic pain to promote resilience, including recruiting caregivers to best support their child. These research interests lend to her career goal of mobilizing and disseminating research findings from the PPHC lab to inform clinical practice guidelines for managing pain.

Anastasia Mekhael’s Selected Presentations:

Mekhael. A.A., McMurtry, C.M., Gagnon, M.M. (accepted). Emotion regulation in caregivers of youth with chronic pain: Scoping review protocol and preliminary results. Poster to be presented at the 14th International Symposium on Pediatric Pain (ISPP) for a poster presentation, Halifax, Canada, October 1-4, 2023.

PhD Student

Emma Truffyn

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Emma Truffyn is a first year doctoral student in the Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology Program at the University of Guelph. Her research interests broadly focus on needle fear and pain management across various medical settings to improve outcomes for children and families. She is passionate about conducting patient-oriented research that engages patients and families to better understand lived experiences of pain. Prior to joining the PPHC lab, Emma completed her undergraduate degree in Psychology, with a concentration in Forensic Psychology, at St. Francis Xavier University, where she examined anxiety in the context of dental services. Additionally, she completed her MA in Counselling Psychology from Western University and has worked clinically as a School Psychometrist. Emma’s research has been funded by OGS. 

Delane Linkiewich

Delane Linkiewich is a PhD student in the Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology Program at the University of Guelph. Her primary research interests focus on the social context of youth living with chronic pain, namely peer support and peer relationships. For her Master’s thesis, Delane conducted a peer support needs assessment with adolescents with chronic pain. Her PhD research will continue this line of work as she will develop, pilot, and evaluate a group peer support intervention for adolescents with chronic pain. Additionally, Delane conducts patient-oriented research and engages patient partners in her work in order to amplify the voices of people with lived experience. Delane is actively involved in the pain community as she sits on the Patient Engagement Committee of the Chronic Pain Network and sits on the Steering Committee for Pain Canada’s Putting the Pieces Together Conference. Delane has also been living with pain for the past 14 years and is a passionate advocate for people living with pain. Delane’s research has been funded by CIHR and OGS and she was awarded the Magisterial D.F. Forster Medal at the University of Guelph. 

Delane Linkiewich’s Selected Presentations:

Linkiewich, D., Dib, K. C., Forgeron, P. A., McMurtry, C. M.(2022). What Do You Think About Peer Support?: The Perspectives of Youth Who Live With Chronic Pain.Poster presentation accepted at the International Association for the Study of Pain, Toronto, ON. September 19th– 23rd, 2022. 

Linkiewich, D., Dib, K. C., Forgeron, P. A., McMurtry, C. M.(2022). Going to the Experts: How Youth with Chronic Pain Want a Peer Support Intervention to be Designed (Preliminary Questionnaire Data). Poster presentation at the 13th International Symposium on Pediatric Pain, March 24-27, 2022. Virtual Conference.

Linkiewich, D. (2021). Understanding the Peer Support Needs of Adolescents with Chronic Pain: A Study Overview. Oral presentation at the Conquering the Hurt Conference, November 2, 2021. Virtual Conference.

Olivia Dobson

Olivia Dobson is currently a PhD student in the Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology Program. Olivia completed her undergraduate degree in Psychology at Acadia University and has a particular interest in clinical work with children with developmental disabilities and their families. This clinical interest transcends into Olivia’s research work where she is interested in the prevention and management of needle pain and fear in children with developmental disabilities. Olivia’s master’s thesis focused on how existing tools and resources for needle fear and pain management can better suit the needs of children on the Autism Spectrum and their families. Olivia’s research has been funded by NSERC, the Autism Scholars Award, and recently, the Brock Doctoral Scholarship from the University of Guelph.

Olivia Dobson’s Selected Presentations:

Dobson, O., Symons, F. J., & McMurtry, C.M. (June 8 2023). Management of Needle Pain and Fear in Autistic Children: Qualitative Perspectives from Caregivers. 15-minute oral presentation at the 8th Annual Dr. Benjamin Goldberg Developmental Disabilities Research Day, June 2023. Received the Maria Z. Gitta award for Best Clinical Science Talk, value of $1000 

Dobson, O., McMurtry, CM., Symons, F. J. (April 14, 2022). Let’s Listen: What do Caregivers Have to Say About Reducing their Child with Autism’s Needle Fear and Pain 15-minute oral presentation at the 30th Annual Ontario Association on Developmental Disabilities (OADD) Research Special Interest Group (RSIG) Conference.  

Dobson, O., McMurtry, CM., Symons, F. J. (June 17-19, 2022). Needle Procedure Experiences of Families with a Child with Autism: Do’s and Don’ts. 5-minute oral presentation at the 83rd Annual National Canadian Psychological Association (CPA) Convention. 

Dobson, O., McMurtry, CM., Symons, F. J. (Sept 19, 2022). A Preliminary Needs Assessment: What do Caregivers and Their Autistic Children Need to Make Needle Pain and Fear Management Strategies Appropriate and Actionable for Them? 10-minute oral presentation at the Pain in Childhood Special Interest Group (SIG) symposium as part of the International Association for the Study of Pain (IASP) 2022 World Congress on Pain in Toronto, Canada.

Natisha Nabbijohn

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Natisha Nabbijohn is currently a PhD student the Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology program at the University of Guelph under the supervision of Dr. Meghan McMurtry. Supported by two consecutive MA-level OGS awards, her Master’s thesis consists of scoping review on the measurement and conceptualization of coping responses in the pediatric chronic pain literature. She has also been active as research student in the Pediatric Chronic Pain Program at the McMaster Children’s Hospital and involved as a student trainee in the Pain in Child Health program. Prior to her current graduate work, Natisha completed an undergraduate and Master’s degree in psychology at the University of Toronto where she examined the role of biological, psychological and social factors on the well-being of gender minority youth. Natisha is interested in applying the biopsychosocial model in her current research to improve the quality of life and healthcare experience of youth living with chronic pain. 

Natisha Nabbijohn’s Selected Presentations:

Hiba Nauman

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Hiba Nauman is a PhD student in the Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology program at the University of Guelph. She completed her Bachelor of Science in Psychology with a minor in Biology at the University of Waterloo in 2018. Hiba’s research interests lie at the intersection of health and psychology and she is passionate about improving needle procedures, such as vaccinations and venipunctures, for children and their parents. For her master’s thesis, Hiba examined potential protective factors of needle fear as well as factors beyond pain that drive needle fear in children and adults. For her PhD dissertation, Hiba hopes to build upon her master’s research and evaluate an evidence-informed children’s e-book intervention for needle fear with the goal of improving vaccine uptake. 

Hiba Nauman’s Selected Presentations:

Nauman, H., Genik, L.M., & McMurtry, C.M. (accepted). Child in pain? How did you decide? Respite workers’ responses to a vignette presenting a child with a developmental disability. Poster to be presented at the Canadian Pain Society Annual Scientific Meeting, Calgary, AB, Canada, May 2020. *Conference cancelled due to COVID-19. 

Honours Thesis Student

Carter Janssen

Undergraduate Interns

Elizabeth Schmidt

Maia Medland

Olivia Kot

Graduate Student Alumni

Kaytlin Constantin

Soeun Lee

Rachel Moline

Lara Genik

Rachel Tomlinson