Tamara Sussman, Associate Professor

Tamara SussmanDr. Sussman completed a Ph.D. in Social Work, from the University of Toronto in 2006 and a Post-Doctoral Fellowship at the Murray Alzheimer Research and Education Program at the University of Waterloo in 2007.  Drawing on over ten years of experience working with adults and families managing health related issues in both hospital and community settings, Dr. Sussman’s  program of research focuses on how health services and systems impact older adults and their family members.  Her research projects include spousal carers’ experiences with home care; older adults’ and family members’ experiences with the transition into long-term care; barriers and facilitators to the delivery of effective interventions for depressed older adults and their care partners; and most recently the experiences of more marginalized populations of older adults such as older homeless adults and older adults identifying as gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender (LGBT). Dr. Sussman aims to conduct research that can be used to improve health policies, processes and practices by working closely with community partners in the development, interpretation and dissemination of her research findings. Dr. Sussman has also provided mentorship to health practitioners interested in producing research to inform their practice with older adults and families.

In addition to her clinical and research interests, Dr. Sussman aims to infuse her role as an instructor with energy and enthusiasm. She hopes that her strong commitment to student learning and her passion for issues related to aging will inspire students to learn about and work with older adults and their families. In 2011, Dr.  Sussman was was awarded the H. Noel Fieldhouse Award for Distinguished Teaching in recognition of her teaching excellence.


Ph.D. (Social Work) University of Toronto 2006

M.S.W. McGill University 1995

B.S.W. McGill University 1994

B.A. (Political Science) McGill University 1993


2007 Associate Professor

McGill University, Faculty of Arts, School of Social Work

2006-2007 Post Doctoral Fellow

Murray Alzheimer Research and Education Program (MAREP), Research Institute for Aging, University of Waterloo

1999-2006 Course Instructor

University of Toronto, Faculty of Social Work

1996-present Group Facilitator


1996-1999 Social Worker

Senior People's Resources in North Toronto

1996-1997 Social Worker

Jewish General Hospital, Oncology

1994-1996 Social Worker

Montreal Neurological Hospital


Areas of interest

  • Older adults with chronic health conditions and their families
  • Dementia care
  • Long-term care policies and programs
  • End of life care and communication with older adults
Recent grants

2019-2020 Burns, V. Canham, S. Walsh, C., Nixon, Colgan, S., Mahmood, A., Chaudhury, H., Sussman, T., & Bourgeois-Guerin . Aging in the Right Place: Building capacity to improve supportive housing for older adults experiencing homelessness in Montreal, Vancouver, and Calgary, CMHC-SSHRC Partnership Development Grant, $79,090.

2019- 2024 Kaasalainen, S., Sussman, T., Hunter, P., McCleary, L., Thompson, G., Venturato, L., Wickson-Griffiths, A. (PIs). Bourgeois-Guerin, V., Fisher, K., Hadjistavropoulos, T., MacDonald, M., Martin-Misener, R., McClement, S., Penner, J., Ploeg, J., Sinclair, S., & You, J. Implementing, Evaluating, and Scaling Up of the Strengthening a Palliative Approach in Long Term Care (SPA-LTC) Program. CIHR Project Grant, $948,600.

2019-2022 Kaasalainen, S., Sussman, T. (PIs), Akhtar-Danesh, N., Hunter, P., McCleary, L., Thompson, G., Venturato, L., Wickson-Griffiths, A. Scaling up the Family Carer Decision Support Intervention: A transnational effectiveness-implementation evaluation. Funded by CIHR, Joint Programme on Neurodegenerative Disease (JPND) Grant: “Multinational research projects on Health and Social Care for Neurodegenerative Diseases”, $349,998.

2018-2020 Bourgeois-Guérin, Valérie (chercheure principale), Van Pevenage, Isabelle (co-chercheure), Sussman, Tamara (co-chercheure), Wallach, Isabelle (co-chercheure), Durivage, Patrick (collaborateur), MacKinnon Christopher (collaborateur), Côté, Andréanne (collaboratrice), (2018, soumis). "La souffrance psychologique des hommes âgés atteints d'un cancer incurable". 67 556$, Concours Développement Savoir, CRSH.

2017-2020 - Sussman, T. (PI-McGill) & Kaasalainen, S. (PI-McMaster). Bourgeois-Guerin , V.,  Hunter. P.,  McCleary, L., Thompson, G. with Durivage, P. Improving advance care planning for frail elderly Canadians in long-term-care. Canadian Frailty Network Transformative Grant. In You, J. (CFN Lead), Howard, M. (Co-PI), Kaasalainen (Co-PI), Sussman, T (Co-PI), Gutman, G. (Co-PI), Simon, J. (Co-PI), Jayaraman, D. (Co-PI), Kobewka, D. (Co-PI)., Klein, D. (Co-PI), Barwich, D. (Co-PI), Urquhart, R. (Co-PI). Improving advance care planning for frail elderly Canadians. $572, 500

2017-2019 - Sussman, T. (PI). Kaasalainen, S., McCleary, L., Wickson-Griffiths, A., Hunter, P., Thompson, G., Venturato, L. Advance care planning for persons with dementia. Challenges, opportunities and solutions. Alzheimer Society of Canada. Regular Grant Program-Quality of Life. $120.000          

2015-2018 - Sussman, T., (Co-PI) & Kaasalainen, S. (Co-PI) Bourgeois-Guerin , V.,  Earl, M., Hunter. P.,   Mccleary, L., Sinclair , S., Surtees, D., Thompson, G., Venturato, L.,   Wickson-Griffiths, A.,  You, J., & Young, L.,  with Baxter, S., Cory , S., Durivage, P., Hanvey, L.,  Holroyd-Leduc, J., Neves, P., O’Leary, J., Pilkington, L., Procter, T.L., Purdon, L., Ripley, V., Schulz, M., & Touchette, C.  Working Together to Support a Palliative Approach in Long-Term-Care: A Pan Canadian Initiative. CIHR- Planning and Dissemination Grant $20,000

2015-2018 -Kaasalainen S.,(Co-PI), Sussman, T., (Co-PI), Hunter, P., (Co-PI); Thompson G,. (Co-PI); Venturato L. (Co-PI). Akhtar-Danesh N, Bourgeois-Guérin V, Chochinov H, dal Bello-Haas V, Duggleby W, Earl M, Goodridge D, Hadjistavropoulos T, Holtslander L, McCleary L, McClement S, O’Leary J, Papaioannou A, Parker D, Ploeg J, Sinclair S, Strachan P, Thorpe L, Touchette C, Trinidad G, You J, Young L .Partnering Together to Improve Palliative Care in Long Term Care. Co-funding from Canadian Institutes of Health Research, Partnerships in Health System Improvement; Alberta Innovates – Health Solutions; Manitoba Health Research Council; Ontario Ministry of Health and Long Term Care; Saskatchewan Health Research Foundation, for $740,000.

2014-2017  Sussman, T. (Co-PI), Kassalainen, S. (Co-PI),  Akhtar-Danesh, N., Brazil, K., Binofas, R., Bourgeois- Guérin, V., da Bello-Haas, V., Earl, M., Kelley, M.L., McCleary, L., McKee, M., Papaioannou, A., Parker, D., Ploeg, J., Sinclair, S., Strachan, P., Thompson, G., Venturo, L., Wickson-Griffiths, A., You, J., Young, L.  Improving Palliative Care in Long Term Care Homes Using Participatory Action Research (Technology Evaluation in the Elderly, CIHR-NCE-TVN, Strategic Impact Grant) $600,000

2014-2018 Séguin, A-M. (PI) , Apparicio, P., Brotman, S., Dallaire, B., Marier P., Negron Poblete, P., Sussman, T., Wallach, I., Van Pevenage, I., Bouchard, C., Dupuis, M-J., Parisien, M.,  Regenstreif, A. L’inclusion sociale des personnes âgées. Enjeux de reconnaissance et de redistribution. Équipe de recherche en partenariat VIES (Vieillissements, exclusions sociales et solidarités) (FRSQ- Soutien aux équipes de recherche) $480, 454

2014-2018 Marier, P., (PI) Brotman, S., Carbonneau, H., Hebblethwaite S., Laforest, S., Leibing, A., Sawchuck, K., Sussman, T., Séguin, A-M., Therriault, P-Y.s Aubin, G., Bourgeois-Guérin, V., Raymond, É., Wallach, I., Durivage, P., Gilbert, N., Israel, S., Orzeck, P., Parisien, M., Regenstreif, A., Couture, M., Van Pevenage, I., Barylak, L., Charette, J., Cox, N., Dulka, I., Dupont, S., Freitas, Z., Montpetit, C., Starnino, C., Touchette, C., Zacchia, L., Nour, K. Regards sur la vieillesse et le vieillissement: De l'expérience singulière aux enjeux collectifs, (FQRSC- Soutien aux infrastructures de recherche des Instituts et des Centres affiliés universitaires du secteur social) $866, 957

2012-2015 Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada- Insight Grant, Homelessness in late life: Growing old on the streets, in shelters and long-term care Grenier, A (P.I.)., Lavoie, J.P., Sussman, T., & Rothwell, D., 169,060

2012-2013 Canadian Institutes of Health Research- Planning Grant, Developing a program of research to identify and address the health and social service needs of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) older adults who reside in long-term care homes $25,000

2010-2011 Sussman, T. (P.I.). Brotman, S., Chamberland, L., Daley, A., Dumas, J., MacDonnell, J., & MacIntosh, H., Centre de recherche et d’expertise en gérontologie sociale- CREGÉS, Identifying the health care needs of gay, lesbian and bisexual older adults who reside in long-term care homes $5,240

2010-2011 Sussman, T. (P.I.) Brotman, S., Chamberland, L., Daley, A., MacDonell, J.  CIHR- Meetings, Planning & Dissemination Grant: Gender, Sex & Health, Development of a program of research on prevention of abuse and neglect among older immigrant women $25,000

2010-2011 Guruge, S. (Co-P.I.) & Atsuko, M. (Co- P.I.), Agrawal, S., Beaulieu, M., Este, D., Gal, S., Gomes, F., Hanley, J., Harbison, J., Koehn, S., Lithwick, M., Manuel, L., Meier, H., Mullings, D., Olazabal, J., Ploeg, J., Roger, K., Spencer, C., Straka, S.,Sussman, T., Tyyska, V., Walsh, C. CIHR- Meetings, Planning & Dissemination Grant, Patients perspectives in planning/evaluation of collaborative care of depression in Canada, $8,500


2009-2013 FRSQ- Programme de subvention a la recherché en santé mentale, Self care management of late life depression for older adults with co-morbid chronic conditions. McCusker, J. (P.I.), Cole, M., Sewitch, M., Yaffe, M., Strumpf, E., Lavoie, K., & Sussman, T. $720,000

2009-2013 FQRSC- Infrastructure Grant, Vieillissements, exclusions sociales et solidarités, Charpentier, M. (P.I)., Brotman, S., Charles, A., Dallaire, B., Grenier, A., Guberman, N., Leibing, A., Quéniart, A., Sussman, T., Thomas, D., Carpentier, N, Lavoie, J.P., Nour, K., Olazabal, J.I., Barylak, L., Beauregard, L., Brown, B., Cohen, M., Cytrynbaum, F., Durivage, P., Hockenstein, E., Gilbert, N., Israel, S., Moscovitz, N., Parisien, M., Regenstreif, A., Saginur, V., Silverman, M., & Sévigny, A. $652, 976


Most Recent Journal Articles

Smith-MacDonald, L., Venturati, L., Hunter, P., Kaasalainen, S., Sussman, T., McCleary, L., Thompson, G., Wickson-Griffiths, A., & Sinclair, S. (2019). Perspectives and experiences of compassion in long-term care facilities within Canada: A Qualitative Study of Patients, Family Members and Health Care Providers. BMC Geriatrics. 19 (128) 1-12. https://rdcu.be/bAHnH

Durepos, P., Sussman, T., Ploeg, J., Akhtar-Danesh, N., Punia, H., & Kaasalainen, S. What does death preparedness mean to family caregivers in dementia? (2019). American Journal of Hospice and Palliative Medicine. 36 (5), 436, 446

Burns, V., & Sussman, T. (2019). Homeless for the first time in later life.  Uncovering more than one pathway. Gerontologist. 59(2), 251-259. doi: 10.1093/geront/gnx212. [Editor’s Choice].

Hill, C., Duggleby, W., Venturato, L., Duperos, P., Kulasegaram, P., Hunter, P., McCleary, L., Sussman, T., Thompson, G., Surtees, D., Wickson-Griffiths, A., & Kaasalainen, S. (2019). An analysis of documents guiding palliative care in five Canadian provinces. Canadian Journal on Aging. 38(3) [expected to be published in September].

Sussman, T., Kaasalainen, S., Eunyoung, L., Akhtar-Danesh, N., Strachan, P., Brazil, K., Bonifas, R., Bourgeois-Guerin, V., Durivage, P., Papaioannou, A., Young, L.(2019). Condition specific pamphlets to improve end-of-life communication in long-term care (LTC): Staff perceptions on usability and use. Journal for Post-Acute and Long-Term Medicine (JAMDA), 20(3), 262-267.

Sussman, T., Kaasalainen, S., Bui, M.,  Aklhtar-Danesh, N., Mintzberg, S., & Strachan, P. (2017). “Now I don’t have to guess”: Using pamphlets to encourage residents and families/friends to engage in advance care planning in long-term care.  Gerontology & Geriatric Medicine. 3, 1-11. http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1177/2333721417747323

Kaasalainen, S., Sussman, T., Durepos, P., McCleary, L., Ploeg, J., Thompson, G., & the SPA-LTC Team. (2017). What Are Staff Perceptions About Their Current Use of Emergency Departments for Long-Term Care Residents at End of Life? Clinical Nursing Research. 2017, 1-16. doi: 10.1177/1054773817749125.

Sussman, T., Kaasalainen, S., Mintzberg, S., Sinclair, S., Young, L., Ploeg, J., Guérin-Bourgois, V., Thompson, G., Ventura, L., Earl, M., Strachan, P., You, J., Bonifas, R., & McKee, M. (2017). (Submitted July 18, 2016). Broadening end-of- life comfort to improve palliative care practices in LTC. Canadian Journal on Aging. 36(3),306-317.

McCusker J, Yaffe M, Sussman T,  Cole M, Sewitch M, Strumpf E, Freeman E, Lambert S, de Raad M. (Accepted May 3, 2017). La gestion de la dépression chez les aînés et leurs aidants naturels : résultats d’un programme de recherche au Québec. Santé mentale au Québec. 2017

Kahn, M., Rothwell, D., Cherney, K., & Sussman, T. (2017).  Understanding the financial knowledge gap: A new dimension of inequity in later life. Journal of Gerontological Social Work. (Accepted April 5, 2017; Published on line April 11, 2017). (17 pages)

Kamga, H., McCusker, J., Yaffe, M., Sewitch, M., Sussman, T., Strupmf, E, Olivier, S., Wittich, W., Moghadaszadeh, S., & Freeman, E. (2017). Self-care tools to treat depressive symptoms in patient  with age related eye disease: A randomized  clinical trial. Clinical and Experimental Ophthalmology. DOI: 10.1111/ceo.12890

Sussman, T., McCusker, J., Yaffe, M., Belzile, E., Sewitch, M., Cole, M., & Strumpf, E. (2016). Family members’/friends’ involvement in self-care for patients with depressive symptoms and co-morbid chronic conditions. Chronic Illness 0(0), 1-17 (Accepted Nov 30, 2015) DOI: 10.1177/1742395316633510

Rothwell, D. W., Sussman, T., Grenier, A., Mott, S., & Bourgeious-Guerin, V. (2016). Patterns of shelter use amongst men new to homelessness in later life: Duration of stay and psychosocial factors related to departure. Journal of Applied Gerontology (Accepted Nov 22, 2015; Published on-line January 18, 2016).  DOI: 10.1177/0733464815624154

Grenier, A., Barken, R., Sussman, T., Rothwell, D., Bourgeois-Guérin, V. (2016). Homelessness among older people: Assessing strategies and frameworks across Canada. Canadian Review of Social Policy/ Revue Canadienne de Politique Sociale, 74, pp. 1-39.

Brotman, S., Drummond, J.D., Silverman, M., Sussman, T., Orzeck, P., Barylak, L., Wallach, I., Billette, V. Talking about Sexuality and Intimacy with Women Spousal Caregivers: Perspectives of Service Providers. Health and Social Work. (Accepted January 14, 2016)

Grenier, A., Sussman, T., Barken, R., Bourgeois-Guerin, V., Rothwell, D. ‘Growing old’ in shelters and 'on the streets’: The Experiences of Older People who are Homeless. (Accepted Sept 3, 2016 ).

George, Naomi; Kryworuchko, Jennifer; Hunold, Katherine; Ouchi, Kei; Berman, Amy; Wright, Rebecca; Grudzen, Corita; Kovalerchik, Olga; LeFebvre, Eric; Lindor, Rachel; Quest, Tammie; Schmidt, Terri; Sussman, Tamara ; Vandenbroucke, Amy; Volandes, Angelo; Platts-Mills, Timothy Shared Decision Making to Support Palliative and End-of-Life Care in the Emergency Department: A Consensus Statement and Research Agenda.  Academic Emergency Medicine (Accepted Sept 7, 2016)

Grenier, A., Barken, R., Sussman, T., & Rothwell, D. (2016). Literature Review of Homelessness and Aging: Suggestions for a Policy and Practice-Relevant Research Agenda. Canadian Journal on Aging. 35(1), 1-14.

Simco, R., McCusker, J., Sewitch, M., Cole,  M.G., Yaffe, M., Lavoie, K., Sussman,  T.,  Strumpf, E.,  Ciampi, A., Belzile, E (2015). Adherence to a telephone-supported depression self-care intervention for adults with chronic physical illnesses. SAGE Open. 2015, 1-9. DOI: 10.1177/2158244015572486

Yaffe, M., Cole, M., McCusker, J., Sussman, T., Sewitch, M., deRaad, M., & Belzile, E. (2015). What is the potential for family physicians to coach patients’ self-care of depression: an exploratory study. Mental Health and Family Medicine, 11, 53-58

Cole M, McCusker J, Yaffe M, Strumpf E., Sewitch M., Sussman T., Ciampi A, Belzile E. (2015). Supported depression self-care may prevent major depression in community-dwelling older adults with chronic physical conditions and co-morbid depressive symptoms, International Psychogeriatrics. 27(6): 1049-1050. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/S1041610215000204.

Khan, S., & Sussman, T. (2015). Claiming a space for international social work. Voices from the field. Social Work Education 34(7), 1-20

McCusker, J., Cole, M., Yaffe, M., Strumpf, E., Sewitch, M., Sussman, T., Ciampi, A., Lavoie, K., Platt, R., & Belzile, E. (2015). A randomized trial of a depression self-care toolkit with or without lay telephone coaching for primary care patients with chronic physical conditions. General Hospital Psychiatry, 37(3), 257-265

Sussman, T., & Dupuis, S.L. (2014). Supporting residents moving into long-term care: Multiple layers shape residents’ experiences. Journal of Gerontological Social Work , 57(5), 438-59. DOI: 1080/01634372.2013.875971

Sussman, T., Yaffe, M., McCusker, J., Burns, V., Sewitch, M., Strumpf, E., (2014). A mixed- methods exploration of family members’/friends’ roles in a self-management intervention for depressive symptoms. Journal of Chronic Illness 10(2) 93-106.DOI: 10.1177/1742395313500359

Sussman, T., Bailey, S., Byford Richardson, K. & Granner, F. (2014).How field instructors judge student readiness for entry-level practice.  Journal of Social Work Education 5(1), 84-100.

Sahin, D., Yaffe, M., Sussman, T., & McCusker, J. (2014). A mixed studies literature review of family physician’s participation in research. Family Medicine Journal 46 (7), 503-514 .

Sahin, D., Yaffe., M., McCusker, J., Sussman, T., Strumpf, E., & Sewitch, M. (2014). What affects family physicians’ participation in research: outcomes from a depression self-care study. Family Medicine and Medical Science Research (Accepted August 11, 2014 Published on-line August 13, 2014). 3, 128. DOI: 10.4172/2327-4972.1000128

Drummond, J., Brotman, S., Silverman, M., Sussman, T., Orzeck, P., Barylak, L., & Wallach, I. (2013). The impact of caregiving: Older women’s experiences with sexuality and intimacy. Affilia 28(4), 414-427. DOI: 10.1177/0886109913504154

McCusker, J., Yaffe, M., Sussman, T., Kates, N., Mulvale, G., Jayabarathan, A.J., Law, S., & Haggerty, J (2013). Developing an evaluation framework for consumer-centered collaborative care of depression using input from stakeholders Canadian Journal of Psychiatry 58(3), 160-168.

McCusker, J., Yaffe, M., Cole, M., Sussman, T., Strumpf, E., & Sewitch, M., (2013). A pilot study of a telephone supported self-care intervention for depression among older adults with a co-morbid chronic physical illness in primary care. Mental Health in Family Medicine 9(4), 257-273.

Burns, V., Grenier, A., Lavoie, J.P., Rothwell, D., & Sussman, T., (2013). Les personnes âgées itinérantes. Invisibles et exclues. Une analyse the trois stratégies pour contrer l’itinérantes.  (translation: Older homeless people. Invisible and excluded. An analysis of three strategies to address homelessness). Frontière 25(1), 31-56.

Sussman, T., & Dupuis, S. (2012).Supporting a relative’s move into a long-term care home: The role of starting point in shaping family members’ transition experiences. Canadian Journal on Aging, 31(4), 395-410.

Sussman, T., Yaffe, M., McCusker, J., Parry, D., Sewitch, M., VanBussel, L., Ferrer, I. (2011). Improving the management of late-life depression in primary care: Barriers and facilitators. Depression, Research & Treatment, Vol. 2011 (7 pgs).

Books and Book Chapters

Ives, N., Denov, M., & Sussman, T. (2015). Social work histories contexts and practices: A Canadian perspective.  Oxford University Press Canada

Brotman, S., Ferrer, I., Sussman, T., Ryan, B., Richard, B. (2015). Access and equity in the design and delivery of health and social care to LGBTQ seniors: A Canadian Perspective (p.p. 111-140). In N.A. Orel & C.A. Fruhauf (eds.) The Lives of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender older adults: Understanding challenges and resilience. American Psychological Association.

Keefler, J., Bond, S., & Sussman, T. (2013). L’évaluation psychosociale (translation : Psychosocial assessment). Chapter 12 (p.p. 267-290).  In  E. Harper and H. Dorvil (Eds.) Le travail social: théories, méthodologies et pratiques (translation: Social Work: Theories, Methodologies and Practices). Les presses de l’Université du Québec à Montreal, Québec.

Published Research Reports

Grenier,A., Weldrick, R., Sussman, T., Rothwell,D., Bourgeois-Guérin, V. (August, 2014).Systematic Literature Search: Homelessness among Older People. Prepared for SSHRC project no. 435-2012-1197. Gilbrea Centre for Studies on Aging, McMaster University.

Sussman, T., Churchill., M., Brotman, S. Chamberland, L., Daley, A., Dumas, J., MacDonnell, J., MacIntosh, H., Ryan, B., Enriquez, M.C., Heffernan, D., Henriques, A., & Singh, S. (2013). Identifying barriers, developing solutions: Addressing the health and social needs of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender older adults who reside in long term care homes. An environmental scan. Canadian Institutes of Health Research Meetings, Planning and Dissemination Grant, Report (28 pgs).

McCusker, J. (PI), Fleury, M.J., Jayabarathan, A., Law, S., Sussman, T., Yaffe, M., Blisker, D., Cox, A., Delorme, A., Karmazyne, J.E., Holmans, D., Kates, N., & Mulvale, G. (October, 2011). Incorporating consumer experiences into planning and evaluation of collaborative care of depression in Canada. Canadian Institutes of Health Research Meetings, Planning and Dissemination Grant, Final Workshop Report.

Opinions General Public

Kaasalainen, S., & Sussman, T. (2018, January 24). Let’s discuss end-of-life issues- now. Opinions. Ottawa Citizen. http://ottawacitizen.com/opinion/columnists/kaasalainen-and-sussman-lets-discuss-end-of-life-issues-now

Kaasalainen, S., & Sussman, T. (2017, Dec 28). Cette année fates un cadeau à vos proches. Les Blogues. Huffpost.

Kaasalainen, S., & Sussman, T. (2017, Dec).  Un moment propice pour parler de fin de vie.  Opinions. Le Droit.


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