Making a difference as a PT and a health services researcher

Linda-Li_ARC_260Linda Li is passionate about making a difference in the lives of people with arthritis. She is an Associate Professor, Harold Robinson/Arthritis Society Chair, and Canada Research Chair at the Department of Physical Therapy. Linda also continues to practice as a physiotherapist at the Mary Pack Arthritis Program, Vancouver General Hospital.

As an immigrant in Canada, Linda has spent her time across the country. She completed her physiotherapy training at McGill University, and a Master’s degree at the University of Western Ontario. She earned a Doctorate in Clinical Epidemiology at the University of Toronto in 2004. Two years later, she completed a post-doctoral fellowship in knowledge translation at the Ottawa Hospital Research Institute. Throughout her PhD and post-doctoral training, she continued to work as a physiotherapist for The Arthritis Society, Ontario Division.

Linda’s research focuses in two areas: 1) understanding the help-seeking experience of people with arthritis, and 2) evaluating digital media interventions designed to improve arthritis management. She capitalizes on her clinical practice as a physiotherapist to engage other health care providers, patients, caregivers, and health authorities in her research. As lead of ICON, Improving Cognitive & JOint health Network she bridges health researchers with computer scientists, designers & visual artists to create and evaluate online tools. Her work in patients’ help-seeking experiences has brought new insights into the design and evaluation of interventions to improve the uptake of effective treatment. These interventions include patent decision aids to promote shared decision-making about medications, and online applications to improve physical activity participation. An example of this is ANSWER, an online decision aid that is designed to provide unbiased information that assists patients in making treatment decisions. ANSWER is adopted by The Arthritis Society for public use ( Her work in patient decision aids is particular relevant to today’s physiotherapists, as they play an important role in coaching patients to consider the pros and cons about treatment options using the best evidence available.

More recently, Linda has partnered with the Kwakiutl District Council (KDC) Health Centres to study the prevalence of femoroacetabular impingement in the Aboriginal populations in Campbell River, Quadra Island and Comox. The excellent partnership has led to an invitation for Linda to conduct a second project to study a community mentor model, paired with a wearable activity tracking device, to encourage an active lifestyle among community members. This collaboration has also resulted in a few successful Aboriginal research placements for physiotherapy and medical students.

Linda’s communication style and ability to forge meaningful interpersonal relationships is a huge asset in her collaborative research and teaching, the Department is very fortunate to have Linda amongst our ranks. If you want to learn more bout Linda’s projects visit her website.