Dr. Kelly O’Brien

Episodic Disability and Rehabilitation Research Lab

The Episodic Disability and Rehabilitation Research Lab is a centre led by Dr. Kelly O’Brien, located at the Rehabilitation Sciences Building at the University of Toronto.  As a Canada Research Chair in Episodic Disability and Rehabilitation, Dr. O’Brien leads an internationally recognized program of research in episodic disability, HIV and rehabilitation with the aim of examining the episodic nature of disability experienced by people aging with HIV and determining the effectiveness of rehabilitation interventions to improve health outcomes and advance care, policy and practice. 

Using HIV as an exemplar, Dr. O’Brien is working towards examining the prevalence and determinants of episodic disability and multimorbidity, and evaluating the effect of community-based rehabilitation interventions to improve health outcomes; while advancing the measurement properties of a new patient-reported outcome measure of disability.

Research Program Objectives:

1) To profile the episodic nature of disability among people aging with HIV over time.

2) To determine the effectiveness of rehabilitation interventions for their ability to reduce disability and improve health outcomes of people aging with HIV.

3) To further advance the development and assessment of measurement properties of a self-administered patient-reported outcome (PRO) developed by our team, the HIV Disability Questionnaire (HDQ), to describe the presence, severity and fluctuating nature of disability for people aging with HIV.

Dr. O’Brien’s Episodic Disability and Rehabilitation Research Program involves an international, multidisciplinary academic-clinical-community partnership of over 30 researchers, clinicians, people living with HIV, policy stakeholders and community organization representatives with expertise in HIV, chronic disease, disability and rehabilitation, measurement, exercise, health services research, knowledge translation, and community-based research.

Dr. O’Brien’s research is conducted in partnership with the Canada-International HIV and Rehabilitation Research Collaborative (CIHRRC), an international network of over 90 people living with HIV, researchers, clinicians, representatives from community-based organizations in Canada, United Kingdom, Ireland, United States and Australia that Dr. O’Brien co-founded to address and translate evidence on common priorities in HIV and rehabilitation research. With CIHRRC, Dr. O’Brien has led the planning and implementation of 4 International Forums on HIV and Rehabilitation Research, engaging over 400 stakeholders to translate evidence on HIV and rehabilitation while identifying emerging priorities to help guide future research in the field.

The Episodic Disability and Rehabilitation Research lab provides opportunities for graduate trainees to build research capacity through mentoring and training in episodic disability and rehabilitation research in the context of HIV and chronic illness.

This program of research is undertaken, in part, thanks to funding from the Canada Research Chairs program.

Contact Info

Kelly O’Brien can be reached by email at kelly.obrien@utoronto.ca.