Lawrence S. Bloomberg Faculty of Nursing

Cindy-Lee Dennis
PhD

Professor

“Healthy babies start with healthy mothers.”

Dr. Cindy-Lee Dennis has the distinction of holding two research chairs. She holds the Canada Research Chair in Perinatal Community Health at the University of Toronto. At the Women’s College Research Institute, and in partnership with U of T’s psychiatry department and the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, Dr. Dennis holds the Shirley Brown Chair in Women’s Mental Health Research.

She is currently the principal investigator of six large, multi-site studies related to breastfeeding exclusivity and perinatal depression. She is also examining the relationship between maternal and paternal postpartum depression and early child development and analyzing why immigrant women are at higher risk to develop postpartum depression. She is a co-investigator on 21 other research projects concerning maternal and paternal health outcomes. She has over $6 million in national research funding from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR). She has more than 150 peer-review publications and has lead nine Cochrane systematic reviews. Lastly, she developed the Breastfeeding Self-Efficacy Scale, the most widely used breastfeeding measure in the world. Her methodological expertise focuses on randomized controlled trials and systematic reviews and meta-analyses.

Dr. Dennis is also a Senior Scientist at the Women’s College Research Institute and is cross-appointed to the Department of Psychiatry in U of T’s Faculty of Medicine.

Visit Dr. Cindy-Lee Dennis’ Website

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  • Academic Credentials
    2000 to 2002 – Postdoctoral Fellowship, University of British Columbia, Vancouver
    1999 – PhD, University of Toronto
    1995 – MScN, University of Western Ontario, London
    1991 – BScN, University of Toronto
  • Publications
    Dr. Dennis's PubMed link is available here.

PhD Students / Trainees

Jennifer Abbas

PhD Student - Jennifer Abbass

Evaluating the Effectiveness of a Co-Parenting Breastfeeding Support Intervention (COSI) on Exclusive Breastfeeding Rates at Twelve Weeks Postpartum

Jennifer Abbas will evaluate COSI delivered to first-time mothers and fathers in the early postpartum period on exclusive breastfeeding rates at three months postpartum. This intervention consists of a co-parenting workbook and video, a breastfeeding booklet, and access to a secure website with information on breastfeeding and co-parenting. Secondary outcomes being evaluated include breastfeeding duration, partner support and the co-parenting relationship.

Kimberley Allen

PhD Student - Kimberley Allen

A Randomized Controlled Trial Evaluating Lanolin for the Treatment of Nipple Pain Among Breastfeeding Women

Kimberley Allen’s research interests include the evaluation of nursing interventions aimed to improve health outcomes for breastfeeding mothers and their infants. For her dissertation, Allen is conducting a randomized controlled trial to evaluate the effect of the application of lanolin (a commonly used ointment) for the treatment of nipple pain among breastfeeding women. From this clinical trial, she hopes to better understand how the use of lanolin may impact maternal perception of breastfeeding pain and breastfeeding outcomes, such as duration and exclusivity.

Trish Unruh

PhD Student - Trish Unruh

The Relationship Between Infant Sleep Location and Postpartum Depression

Trish Unruh will compare postpartum depression rates between breastfeeding mothers who bed share, room share and sleep apart from their infant and examine causal pathways. Her dissertation could help inform mothers and health care professionals on strategies to decrease the risk of postpartum depression by providing interventions that promote sleep for both the mother and baby.

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