Farah Ahmad


Locations / Contact Info:

Keele Campus
Phone: 416-736-2100 Ext. 33898
Fax: 416-736-5227

Email address(es):


Faculty & School/Dept.

Faculty of Health - School of Health Policy & Management


PhD - 2007
University of Toronto

MPH - 1995
Harvard University

MBBS - 1988
University of Punjab


Dr. Farah Ahmad is a health services and policy researcher with focus on primary health care, psychosocial health, vulnerable communities and eHealth innovations. Professor Ahmad says “Fostering equitable access to healthcare through applied research, teaching and service is my philosophy”.  She uses mixed-method research designs which range from randomized controlled trials to in-depth interviews, focus groups, concept mapping, and systematic reviews. She has taught courses in migration and health, health promotion, eHealth, and research methods.

Selected Publications


Mental Health and Immigrant/Youth Communities

Shafi S, Karunakaran A, & Ahmad F. Autism, stigma, and South Asian immigrant families in Canada. Int. J. Environ. Res Public Health 2024;21(3):369. 

Hynie M, Oda A, Calaresu M, Kuo BCH, Ives N, Jaimes A, Bokore N, Beukeboom C, Ahmad F, Arya N, Samuel R, Farooqui S, Palmer-Dyer J-L, & McKenzie K. Access to virtual mental healthcare and support for refugee and immigrant groups: A scoping review. Journal of Immigrant and Minority Health, 2023;25(5):1171-1195

Ahmad F, Othman N, Hynie M, Bayoumi AM, Oda A, & McKenzie K. Depression-level symptoms among Syrian refugees: Findings from a Canadian longitudinal study. Journal of Mental Health, 2021;30(2):246-254

Othman N, Ahmad F, El Morr C, & Ritvo P. Perceived impact of contextual determinants on depression, anxiety and stress: A survey with university students. BMC International Journal of Mental Health Systems, 2019;13(17):e9

Ahmad F, Maule C, Wang J, & Fung WLA. Symptoms and experience of depression among Chinese communities in the West: A scoping review. Harvard Psychiatry Review, 2018;26(6):340-351.

Ahmad F, Shakya Y, Ginsburg L, Lou W, Ng P, Rashid M, Ferrari M, Ledwos C, & McKenzie K. Burden of common mental disorders in a community health center sample. Canadian Family Physician, 2016;62(12):2758-e766

Ahmad F, Vanza R, Shik A, Cheung AM, George U, & Stewart DE. Voices of South Asian women: Immigration and mental health. Women and Health, 2005;40(4):113-130.

Mental Health, Partner Violence and eHealth Technology

 Ahmad F, El Morr C, Ritvo P, & MVC Team. Examining the impact of web-based mindfulness on quality of life: A randomized controlled trial with students.  BMC Digital Health, 2023;1(22);e12. 

Ahmad F, Wang J, Wong B, & Fung AWL. Interactive mental health assessments for Chinese Canadians: A pilot randomized controlled trial in nurse practitioner-led primary care clinic. Asia-Pacific Psychiatry, 2020;14(1):e12400.  

Ahmad F, El Morr C, Ritvo P, Othman N, Moineddin R, & MVC Team. An eight-week, web-based Mindfulness Virtual Community intervention for students' mental health: Randomized controlled trial. JMIR Mental Health, 2020;7(2): e20

Ahmad F, Lou W, Shakya Y, Ginsburg L, Ng P, Rashid M, Dinca-Panaitescu S, Ledwos C, & McKenzie K. Pre-consult Interactive Computer-assisted Client Assessment Survey (iCCAS) for common mental disorders in a community health center: A randomized controlled trial. CMAJ Open, 2017;5(1): e190-e197

Ahmad F, Norman C, & O’Campo P. What is needed to implement a computer-assisted psychosocial risk assessment tool? An exploratory concept mapping study. BMC Medical Informatics and Decision-Making, 2013;12(149):e11.

Ahmad F, Shakya Y, Li J, Karyan K, Norman C, Lou W, Abuelaish I, & Ahmadzi M. A pilot with computer-assisted psychosocial risk–assessment for refugees. BMC Medical Informatics and Decision-making, 2012;2(71):e8

Ahmad F, Hogg-Johnson S, Stewart DE, Skinner HA, Glazier RH, & Levinson W. Computer-assisted risk screening for intimate partner violence: A randomized controlled trial. Annals of Internal Medicine, 2009;151(2):93-102.

Ahmad F, Hudak PL, Bercovitz K, Hollenberg E, & Levinson W. Are physicians ready for patients with Internet-based health information? Journal of Medical Internet Research, 2006;8(3):e22.

Women’s Health & Gender-based Violence

Khanlou N, Vazquez LM, Pashang S, Connolly JA, Ahmad F, & Ssawe A. 2020 syndemic: Convergence of COVID-19, gender-based violence, and racism pandemics. Journal of Racial and Ethnic Disparities, 2022;9:2077–2089

Ahmad F, Smylie J, Omand M, Cyriac A, & O’Campo P. South Asian immigrant men and women and conceptions of partner violence. Journal of Immigrant and Minority Health, 2017;19(1):57-66

Lombardo AP, Angus JE, Lowndes R, Cechetto N, Khattak S, Ahmad F, & Bierman AS. Women’s strategies to achieve access to healthcare in Ontario, Canada: A meta-synthesis. Health and Social Care in Community, 2014;22(6):575-87

O’Campo P, Kirst M, Tsamis C, Chamber C, & Ahmad F. Implementing successful intimate partner violence screening programs in health care settings: Evidence generated from a realist-informed systematic review. Social Science and Medicine, 2011;72(6):855-66. 

Ahmad F, Driver N, McNally MJ, & Stewart DE. “Why doesn’t she seek help for partner abuse?” An exploratory study with South Asian immigrant women. Social Science and Medicine, 2009;69(4): 613-622.

Ahmad F, Hogg-Johnson S, Stewart DE, & Levinson W. Violence involving intimate partners: prevalence in Canadian family practice. Canadian Family Physician, 2007;53(3):460-8.

Ahmad F, Ali M, & Stewart DE. Spousal-abuse among Canadian immigrant women. Journal of Immigrant & Minority Health, 2005;7(4):239-246.

Ahmad F, Riaz S, Barata PC, & Stewart DE. Patriarchal beliefs and perceptions of abuse among South Asian immigrant women. Violence against Women, 2004;10(3):262-282.

Bergman B, Ahmad F, & Stewart DE. Physician health, stress and gender at a university hospital. Journal of Psychosomatic Medicine, 2003;54(2):171-178.

Inequities in Cancer Screening

 Ali M, Ahmad F, & Morrow M. Somali’s perceptions, beliefs, and barriers towards breast, cervical, and colorectal cancer screening: a socio-ecological scoping review. International Journal of Migration, Health and Social Care, 2021;17(2): 224-238.

Dunn SF, Lofters AK, Ginsburg OM, Meaney CA, Ahmad F, Moravac CM, Nguyen JCT, & Arisz AM. Cervical and breast cancer screening after CARES:  a community program for immigrant and marginalized women. American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 2017;52(5):589-597.

Ahmad F, Ferrari M, Moravac C, Lofters AK, & Dunn SF. Expanding the meaning of “Being a Peer Leader”: Qualitative findings from a Canadian Community-Based Cervical and Breast Cancer Screening Programme. Health and Social Care in the Community, 2017;25(2):630-640. 

Crawford J, Ahmad F, Beaton D, & Bierman AS. Cancer screening behaviors among South Asian immigrants in the UK, US, and Canada: a scoping study. Journal of Health and Social Care in the Community, 2016;24(2):123–153

Ahmad F, Mahmood S, Pietkiewicz I, MacDonald L, & Ginsburg O. Concept Mapping with South Asian immigrant women: Barriers to mammography and solutions. Journal of Immigrant and Minority Health, 2012;14(2):242-250 .

Ahmad F, Cameron JI, & Stewart DE. A tailored intervention to promote breast cancer screening among South Asian immigrant women. Social Science and Medicine, 2005;60(1):575-558.  

Austin L, Ahmad F, McNally MJ, & Stewart DE. Breast and cervical cancer screening in Hispanic women: A literature review using Health Belief Model. Women's Health Issues, 2002;12(3):122-128.

Critical Methodologies and Measurement

Kolar K, & Ahmad F. Participant-generated visual timelines: An asset to qualitative interviews with street-involved youth who have experienced violent victimization. In: Handbook of research methods in health and social sciences. Editors: Pranee Liamputtong. Springer Nature Singapore, 2017 (pg. 1-19).   

Ahmad F, Jihaj A, Stewart DE, Burghardt M & Bierman AS. Single item measures of self-rated mental health: A scoping review. BMC Health Services Research, 2014;14(1):398

Ahmad F. South Asian. In: Encyclopedia for immigrant health. Editors: Sana Loue & Martha Sajatovic, Sage Publication, 2012 (pg. 1371-1375). DOI: 10.1007/978-1-4419-5659-0_721.

Bierman AS, Ahmad F & Mawani F. Gender, migration, and health. In: Racialized migrant women in Canada: Essays on health, violence and equity. Editor: Vijay Agnew. Toronto, Canada, University of Toronto Press, 2009 June (pg. 98-136).

O’Campo P, Ahmad F, & Cyriac A. Role of healthcare professionals. In: Domestic violence: a multi-professional approach for healthcare practitioners. Editor: June Keeling & Tom Mason. Maidenhead, UK, McGraw-Hill Education, 2008 (pg. 107-116).

Barata PC, Gucciardi E, Ahmad F, & Stewart DE. Cross-cultural perspectives on research participation and informed consent. Social Science and Medicine, 2005;62(2):479-490.


Ahmad, F., Culley, L., Ustun, A., Khalaf, T, & Suleman, A. Supportive Strategies for Mental Health and Mental Well-Being in York Region. A Report Produced for the Regional Municipality of York, Ontario, Canada. April 2024 – pages 147.

Bierman AS, Johns A, Hyndman B, Mitchell C, Degani N, Shack AR, Creatore MI, Lofters AK, Urquia ML, Ahmad F, Khanlou N, & Parlette V. Chapter 12: Social determinants of health and populations at risk. In: Bierman AS, editor. Project for an Ontario Women’s Health Evidence-Based (POWER) Report: Vol 2: Toronto; February 2012 – pages 189.   

Ahmad F, Nadarajan P, Jandu B, & Maule CO. Health promotion approaches to prevent family violence. Prepared for Family Violence Unit, Public Health Agency of Canada, February 2012 – pages 75.

Bierman AS, Angus J, Ahmad F, Degani N, Vahabi M, Glazier RH, Li Y, Ross S, & Manuel, D. Chapter 7: Access to health care services. In: Bierman AS, editor. Project for an Ontario Women’s Health Evidence-Based (POWER) Report: Vol 1: Toronto; March 2009/10 – pages 161.

Bierman AS, Ahmad F, Angus J, Glazier RH, Vahabi M, Damba C, Dusek J, Shiller SK, Li Y, Ross S, Shapiro G, & Manuel D. Chapter 3: Burden of illness. In: Bierman AS, editor. Project for an Ontario Women’s Health Evidence-Based (POWER) Report: Vol 1: Toronto; June 2009 – pages 143.



Dalla Lana School of Public Health
Professor (status) 2011-present

North York General Hospital
Research Scientist 2013-20

CIHR-STIHR Health, Care, Technology and Place
Mentor 2009-15

Centre for Research on Inner City Health, St. Michael Hospital
Affiliate Scientist 2007-15


Access Alliance Multicultural and Community Health Services
Research Collaborator


York U Research Leaders, York University - 2015

CIHR Investigator Award, Community-based Primary Health Care - 2014

ERA Award, Ministry of Economic Develop & Innovation, Ontario - 2014

Kiran van Rijn Award, Mentorship - 2013

CIHR Post-doctoral Fellowship - 2007

CIHR-STIHR Health, Care, Technology & Place Fellowship - 2005

CIHR Health Research Fellowship - 2004

CIHR Health Research Fellowship - 2003


Currently available to supervise graduate students: Yes

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

Available to supervise undergraduate thesis projects: No

Current Research

eHealth to Transform Healthcare. Although chronic health conditions have now gained attention of policy makers and health management teams, a new challenge on the horizon is co-occurrence of chronic conditions with poor social conditions (e.g., unemployment, poor housing, food inadequacy, and low social capital). At the time of economic recession, this is a serious concern because of the decline in social conditions at the societal level and shrinking professional resources at the system level. In her research, Dr. Ahmad aims to examine, adopt and implement eHealth technologies in primary care settings to mitigate resource constraints on the health system and address health inequities by empowering communities and healthcare providers for a ‘whole person’ approach and development of integrated models of care. To this end, Dr. Ahmad has examined an interactive, wait-room computer-assisted health-risk assessment (HRA) tool in a primary care settings. This randomized controlled trial demonstrated the tools’ effectiveness in raising discussion and detection of intimate partner violence and risk of compromised mental health during clinical encounters. The qualitative studies revealed provider and patient-acceptance of the tool. Dr. Ahmad examined the HRA through further studies and has now taken the concept to Community Health Centers serving vulnerable communities. 

Psychosocial Health is also a dominant stream of Dr. Ahmad’s research with a focus on partner violence and mental health/stress with several publications.  Another cross-cutting theme is Vulnerable Populations with a focus on social status (i.e., gender, migration and ethnicity/race) determining access to healthcare. Several of her publications in the area of psychosocial health listed above fall in this domain. This focus is also apparent in her research on under-screening of cancer among immigrant and racialized women  and popular modes of health promotion among ethnic immigrant women. To this end, Dr. Ahmad’s significant contribution is successful development of an intervention using ethnic newspapers to promote breast-cancer screening among immigrant women. This model has been replicated by the health promotion team of the Cancer Care Ontario. 

Research Projects

Concept mapping pathways to mental health and wellness in York Region.

Role: Principal Investigator
Amount funded: $110,857
Funded by: Other...
Other funding: York Region Municipality

Exploring wait-room interactive technology for mental health with Chinese Canadians
Role: Principal Investigator
Amount funded: $41,403
Funded by: Other...
Other funding: North York General Hospital

Inuit youth develop a virtual Qaqqiq: using technology and cultural knowledge to support resilience outside the (digital)
Role: CoInvestigator
Amount funded: $1,797,752
Funded by: Canadian Institutes of Health Research

Making I-SPARX fly in Nunavut
Role: CoInvestigator
Amount funded: $1,258,424
Funded by: Canadian Institutes of Health Research

Refugee integration and long-term health outcomes in CanadA
Role: CoInvestigator
Amount funded: $1,353,165
Funded by: Canadian Institutes of Health Research

Students mental health: virtual support on campus
Role: Principal Investigator
Amount funded: $434,249
Funded by: Canadian Institutes of Health Research