Rebecca Pillai Riddell


Associate Vice-President Research

Locations / Contact Info:

2038 Sherman Health Science Research Centre
Keele Campus
Phone: 416 736 2100 Ext. 20177

Email address(es):

Web site(s):

Ouch Lab

Faculty & School/Dept.

Faculty of Health - Department of Psychology


Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology - 2004
University of British Columbia

MA - 2000
University of British Columbia

BA - 1996
York University


Selected Publications

Authors with asterisks were students under my primary supervision at time of publication.  I am senior author. Author order follows APA style.

Selected Invited/ Edited Contributions

  1. Goubert, L., Pillai Riddell, R., Simons, L & Borsook, D.  (2018).  Biopsychosocial Theories of Pain. In P. McGrath, B. Stevens (Eds.), The Oxford Textbook of Pediatric Pain. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press.

  2. Gennis*, H. & Pillai Riddell, R. (2018). Pain in infancy: The primacy of the social context. In K. Prkachin, T. Vervoort, Z. Trost, K. Karos (Eds.), Social and Interpersonal Dynamics in Pain: We Don’t Suffer Alone. New York, NY: Springer Publishers.

  3. Pillai Riddell, R.  & Craig, K. (2018). Developmental Dimensions in Understanding Interpersonal Features of Pain. In K. Prkachin, T. Vervoort, Z. Trost, K. Karos (Eds.), Social and Interpersonal Dynamics in Pain: We Don’t Suffer Alone. New York, NY: Springer Publishers.


Selected Peer-Reviewed Publications

  1. Pillai Riddell, R.R., Bucsea*, O., Shiff*, I., Gennis*, H., Badovinac*, S., DiLorenzo, M., Racine, N., Ahola Kohut*, S., Lisi, D. M., Turcotte, K., Stevens, B., & Uman, L. S. (2021; under final revision). Nonpharmacological interventions for needle-related procedural pain and post-operative pain in neonates and infants 3rd Edition Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews.

  2.  Badovinac*, S., Pillai Riddell, R., Deneault, A.A., Martin, J., Bureau, J.F., & O’Neill*, M. (2021, In Press) Associations between early childhood parent-child attachment and internalizing/ externalizing symptoms: A systematic review and narrative synthesis. Marriage and Family Review.

  3. Shiff*, I., Bucsea*, O., & Pillai Riddell, R. (2021, in press). Psychosocial and neurobiological vulnerabilities of the hospitalized preterm infant and relevant non-pharmacological pain mitigation strategies. Frontiers in Pediatrics 

  4. O’Neill*, M., Pillai Riddell, R, Badovinac*, S.  Bureau, JF, Martin, J. (2021). The longitudinal and concurrent relationship between caregiver sensitivity and preschool attachment: A systematic review and meta-analysis. PLOS One.

  5. O’Neill*, M., Pillai Riddell, R.R., Bureau, J-F, Deneault, A-A., Garfield, H., & Greenberg, S. (2020) Longitudinal and concurrent relationships between caregiver-child behaviours in the vaccination context and preschool attachment.  Pain. doi: 10.1097/j.pain.0000000000002091

  6. Jones, L., Laudano-Dray, P., Whitehead, K, Meek, J., Fitzgerald, M., **Fabrizi, L., &** Pillai Riddell., R (2020) The impact of parental contact upon cortical noxious-related activity in human neonates.  European Journal of Pain. doi: 10.1002/ejp.1656 (**Shared Senior Author position; neuroscience publication convention)  EDITOR’S CHOICE DISTINCTION

  7. Waxman*, J., DiLorenzo*, M., Pillai Riddell, R., Flora, D., Schmidt, L., Garfield, H., Flanders, D., Weinberg, E., & Savlov, D. (2020) Investigating convergence of cardiac and behavioral indicators of distress during routine vaccinations over the second year of life. Developmental Psychobiology, 1-15. doi:10.1002/dev.22034

  8. Gennis*, H. & Pillai Riddell, R. (2020) Opioid exposure and cognitive development: Unpacking clinical relevance. Journal of Pediatric Psychology, 45(5), 486-487. doi: 10.1093/jpepsy/jsaa025

  9. Laudano-Dray, M.P., Pillai Riddell, R., Jones, L., Iyer, R., Whitehead, K., Fitzgerald, M., Fabrizi, L., Meek, J. (2020). Quantification of neonatal procedural pain severity: A platform for estimating total pain burden in individual infants. Pain, 161(6), 1270-1277. doi:10.1097/j.pain.0000000000001814.

  10. Waxman* J., DiLorenzo*, M., & Pillai Riddell, R. (2020).  Convergence of behavioral and cardiac indicators of distress in toddlerhood: A systematic review and narrative synthesis. International Journal of Behavioural Development, 44(6), 534–550. doi: 10.1177/0165025420922618

  11. Waxman* J., DiLorenzo*, M., Pillai Riddell, R., Flora, D., Schmidt, L., Garfield, H., Flanders, D., Weinberg, E., & Savlov, D. (2020) An examination of the reciprocal and concurrent relationships between behavioural and cardiac indicators of acute pain in toddlerhood. Pain. doi: 10.1097/j.pain.0000000000001840

  12. Gennis*, H., Pillai Riddell, R., Spiegel*, R., Martin*, J., & Connolly, J. (2019). Enhancing the student experience through exposure to university researchers:  a quasi cluster-randomized controlled study.  Innovations in Education and Teaching International. DOI: 10.1080/14703297.2019.1654401

  13. Bucsea*, O, Pillai Riddell, R. (2019). Nociception and the newborn brain: non-pharmacological approaches to pain management.  Seminars in Fetal and Neonatal Medicine, 24 (4), 101017. doi: 10.1016/j.siny.2019.05.009

Other Research Outputs

  1. Co-Principal Author, Pain Hub, About Kids Health, Sick Kids Hospital, National Pediatric Pain Online Resource June 2019
    1. Pillai Riddell, R. et al. (2019). Understanding Acute Pain In Infants and Toddlers
    2. Pillai Riddell, R. et al. (2019). Understanding Chronic Pain in Infants
    3. Pillai Riddell, R. et al. (2019). Understanding Acute Pain in Preschoolers
    4. Pillai Riddell, R. et al. (2019). Understanding Acute Pain in School-Aged Children
    5. Pillai Riddell, R. et al (2019). Understanding Acute Pain in Adolescents


Canadian Psychological Association

Ontario Psychological Association

APA Division 54, Society for Pediatric Psychology

Canadian Pain Society

International Association for the Study of Pain

Infant Mental Health Promotion Project

Service/Community Activities

NDRIO (National Digital Research Infrastructure Organization funded by ISED)
Researcher Council September 2020-present Surve Governance Subcommittee

YRSTF@York Partnership
Founding Chair Co-Chair

CBC Kids
Member, National Advisory Board Expert


York University Faculty of Graduate Studies Graduate Teaching Award - 2018

Member, Royal Society of Canada’s College of New Scholars, Artists, and Scientists - 2019

Canadian Pain Society Outstanding Mentorship Award - 2020

• The American Pain Society’s Jeffrey Lawson Award for Advocacy in Children’s Pain Relief - 2019


Currently available to supervise graduate students: Yes

Currently taking on work-study students, Graduate Assistants or Volunteers: Yes

Available to supervise undergraduate thesis projects: Yes

Current Research

Dr. Pillai Riddell's interest in the caregiver-child relationship began as an undergraduate student at York University and has continued through her graduate research training career at the University of British Columbia, Hospital for Sick Children and University of Toronto. She currently is involved with two primary lines of research and participates in the leadership of other programs with colleagues from across the country.

First, she started leading research on the influence of parental and child factors on early childhood pain reactivity and regulation over the first years of life through her work on longitudinal cohorts of healthy children going through routine vaccination. These projects have been or are currently funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, Natural Sciences and Engineering Council, Canada Foundation for Innovation, and Ontario Ministry of Research and Innovation. To our knowledge, these are the largest cohorts of its kind in the world studying parent-child interactions during healthy child vaccinations. This research has provided critical normative data on the development of pain responses over the first five years of life. We are grateful for our collaborations with Dr. David Flora (York University), Dr. Jean-Francois Bureau (University of Ottawa), Dr. Louis Schmidt (McMaster University), and clinicians Dr. Saul Greenberg, Dr. Hartley Garfield, Dr. Dan Flanders, Dr. Eitan Weinberg, and Dr. Dina Savlov.

Her newest program of research takes an innovative step forward in the exploration of using artificial intelligence to move the practice of infant pain assessment forward. Building on over a decade of research with healthy infants in pain and their parents, Dr. Pillai Riddell has turned her focus to understanding the pain responding of preterm infants in the Neonatal Intensive Care Units. Recognizing that the key to optimal infant pain assessment will be through distinguishing pain-related and non-pain related distress using multi-modal assessment, Dr. Pillai Riddell began a collaboration with neurobiologists at University College London in 2018 (Dr. Maria Fitzgerald, Dr. Lorenzo Fabrizi, Dr. Laura Jones). This collaboration grew into a large multinational, multiprovincial Collaborative Health Research Project funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council, and Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (2018-2022) led by Dr. Pillai Riddell. This project also recruited mathematicians (Dr. Steven Wang [NSERC Leader], York University), computer scientists (Dr. Aijun An, York University), clinicians (Dr. Vibhuti Shah, Ms. Carol Cheng [Mount Sinai Hospital Toronto]; Dr. Judith Meek, Ms. Pureza Laudano-Dray [UCLH]), basic scientists (Dr. Cheryl Chow [York University]; Dr. Louis Schmidt [McMaster University]), and social scientists (Dr. Ian Stedman [York University]; Dr. Nicole Racine, Dr. Sheri Madigan [University of Calgary]).