William Avison

Children's Health & Therapeutics Dr. William Avison


Scientist , Division of Children’s Health and Therapeutics, Children’s Health Research Institute   Distinguished University Professor Emeritus, Western University
Professor, Department of Sociology, Faculty of Social Science, Western University
Professor, Departments of Paediatrics and Epidemiology & Biostatistics, Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry, Western University

How my research helps children

I study the social and psychological factors that influence family and child health.  I am especially interested in understanding how social and economic disadvantages increase families’ and children’s exposure to stress and how those stressful experiences influence their physical and mental health.  By understanding the social and economic factors that increase children’s risk of illness, we can suggest community interventions and public policies that may reduce such threats to their health.


Current Research Activities

At present, I am working on a series of research articles on the ways in which patterns of change or stability of family structure affect children's long-term health outcomes.  I have also been writing extensively on how social scientists might better incorporate research on children into the study of stress and the life course.  Recent papers on this have appeared in the Journal of Health and Social Behavior (Avison, 2010) and The Handbook of the Sociology of Mental Health (Avison and Comeau, 2012).  I have also been interested in further extending social science research into life course issues (Seabrook and Avison, 2012; Canadian Review of Sociology) and into investigations of gene-environment interactions (Seabrook and Avison, 2010; Social Science & Medicine)

Research Team

My research team consists of a Project Coordinator (Jacqueline Jaremchenko), five doctoral students, and a team of survey interviewers.

Future Research Plans

I have received funding from the CIHR for a study of 2,100 new mothers to study how different family structures may affect maternal and infant health.  My team will be interviewing married mothers, those who are cohabiting, and single mothers within three months of the births of their children to determine how these variations on family situations affect health.

Awards & Grants

Awards & Grants

Funding in support of Ontario Child Health Study Sequel - Awarded by Canadian Institute of Health Research (CIHR), 2013-2018 (PIs: Michael H Boyle and Katholiki Giorgiades)

Fellow, Canadian Academy of Health Sciences, 2012

Funding in support of Identifying Causal Effects of the Built Environment on Physical Activity, Diet and Obesity among Children - Awarded by Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada, 2011-2013 (PI: Dr. J. Gilliland)

Funding in support of Demands and Resources in Work and Family Life and Their Implications for Stress and Health among Canadians - Awarded by Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), 2010-2014 (PI: Dr. S. Schieman)

Funding in support of Canadian Infants' Motor Abilities: A Validation of the Alberta Infant Motor Scale Normative Data - Awarded by Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), 2010-2013 (Co-PIs: Drs. D. Bartlett and J. Darrah)

Funding in support of Canadian Child Health Clinician Scientist Program - Awarded by Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), 2009-2013 (PI: Dr. N. Rosenblum)

Leonary I Pearlin Award for Significant Contributions to the Sociological Study of Mental Health, American Sociological Association, 2009

Chair-Elect, and Past-Chair, Medical Sociology Section, American Sociological Association, 2008-2010

Funding in support of A Life Course Analysis of Family Structure, Stress, and Mothers’ Mental Health - Awarded by Canadian Institutes of Health Research (PI: Dr. W. Avison)

Funding support of Putting Children’s Health on the Map: Creating a Health Atlas to Identify the Causes of Prevalent Childhood Diseases and Disorders in Southwestern Ontario - Awarded by the Green Shield Canada Foundation, 2009-2011

Recent Publications


The impact of mental illness on the family
Avison WR, Comeau J
Chapter in Carol S Aneshensel, Jo C Phelan and Alex Bierman (eds), Handbook of the Sociology of Mental Health. Second edition. New York: Springer. 2013

Mental illness in childhood
Avison WR, Comeau J
Chapter in William C. Cockerham (ed), The Wiley-Blackwell Encyclopedia of Health, Illness, Behavior and Society. 2013

Examining the pathways of pre- and postnatal health information
Youash S, Campbell MK, Avison WR, Penava D, Xie B
Canadian Journal of Public Health. 2012; 03:314-19

Socioeconomic status and cumulative disadvantage processes across the life course: Implications for health outcomes
Seabrook JA, Avison WR
Canadian Review of Sociology. 2012; 49:51-68

The impact of mental illness on the family
Avison WR, Comeau J
In Aneshensel CS, Phelan JC, Bierman A (eds), The Handbook of the Sociology of Mental Health. Second edition. 2012. New York: Springer

Prevalence and trajectories of depressive symptoms in mothers of children with newly-diagnosed epilepsy
Ferro MA, Avison WR, Campbell MK, Speechley KN
Epilepsia. 2011; 52:326-336

The impact of maternal depressive symptoms on health-related quality of life in children with epilepsy
Ferro MA, Avison WR, Campbell MK, Speechley KN
Epilepsia. 2011; 52:316-325

Advances in the Conceptualization of the Stress Process: Essays in Honor of Leonard I. Pearlin
Avison WR, Aneshensel CS, Schieman S, Wheaton B (eds.)
2010 New York: Springer

Avison WR, Thomas SS
The New Blackwell Companion to Medical Sociology. 2010 London: Wiley-Blackwell

Higher zinc intake buffers the impact of stress on depressive symptoms in pregnancy
Amrita R, Evers SE, Avison WR, Campbell MK
Nutrition Research. 2010; 30:695-704

Incorporating children's lives into a life course perspective on stress and mental health
Avison WR
Journal of Health and Social Behavior. 2010; 51:361-375

Cumulative trauma, personal and social resources, and post-traumatic stress symptoms among income-assisted single mothers
Samuels-Dennis JA, Ford-Gilboe M, Wilk P, Avison WR, Ray S
Journal of Family Violence. 2010; 25:603-617

Do depressive symptoms affect mothers' reports of child outcomes in children with new-onset epilepsy?
Ferro MA, Avison WR, Campbell MK, Speechley KN
Quality of Life Research. 2010; 19:955-964

Genotype-environment interaction and sociology: contributions and complexities
Seabrook JA, Avison WR
Social Science Medicine. 2010; 70(9):1277-84.

Additional publications



Phone: (519) 661-2111, x85515
Fax: (519) 661-3200
Email: wavison [at] uwo [dot] ca
Website: http://sociology.uwo.ca/avison

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