Lawrence S. Bloomberg Faculty of Nursing

Navi Mental Health Wayfinder

Cindy-Lee Dennis


“Healthy babies start with healthy mothers.”

Dr. Cindy-Lee Dennis is a Professor in the Lawrence S. Bloomberg Faculty of Nursing and the Faculty of Medicine, Department of Psychiatry at the University of Toronto. She holds the Women’s Health Research Chair at Li Ka Shing Knowledge Institute, St. Michael’s Hospital. Previously she held the Canada Research Chair in Perinatal Community Health. She is currently the principal investigator of seven large, multi-site studies and is a co-investigator on twenty-four other research projects concerning maternal, paternal, and infant health outcomes with a particular focus on perinatal mental health, breastfeeding and e-health interventions.  She holds over $23 million in funding as a principal investigator from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) and has over 200 peer-review publications. She is the lead author on eight Cochrane systematic reviews and has provided over 165 invited presentations. She developed the Breastfeeding Self-Efficacy Scale, the most widely used breastfeeding measure in the world that has been translated into over 20 different languages. Dr. Dennis has worked with the Ontario Ministry of Children and Youth Services, the Provincial Council for Maternal and Child Health, and Public Health Ontario to influence policy and improve the care provided to women and their families across the perinatal period.

Visit Dr. Cindy-Lee Dennis’ Website

  • 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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