A picture of John Cairney

John Cairney, Professor & Director of Graduate Studies, Motor Development

  • Professor
  • Director of Graduate Studies
55 Harbord Street, Toronto, ON M5S 2W6

About John

Academic Training

Post-Doctoral Fellowship in Psychiatric Epidemiology, McMaster University, 2003

PhD, Western University, 2002

MA, Queen’s University, 1995

BA (Honours), Brock University, 1993 

Research Interests

Motor development

Pediatric Exercise Science

Sport and Health

Physical Literacy

Developmental Coordination Disorder

Adapted Physical Activity

Scale Design and Evaluation

Physical Activity

Mental Health / Psychiatry


Selected Publications


Cairney J, Streiner DL. (Eds) (2010) Mental Disorders in Canada: an epidemiological perspective. Toronto: University of Toronto Press.

Cairney J. (Editor). (2015). Developmental Coordination Disorder and Its Consequences. Toronto: University of Toronto Press.

Streiner DL, Norman G, Cairney J. (2015). Health Measurement Scales: A practical guide to their development and use.5th Edition. Oxford UK: Oxford University Press.

Cairney J. (2015). Immaculate: A history of perfect innings in baseball. Oakville ON, Canada: Mosaic Press

Recent Peer-reviewed Articles

Cairney J, Bedard C, Dudley D, Kriellaars D. Towards a Physical Literacy Framework to Guide the Design, Implementation and Evaluation of Early Childhood Movement- Based Interventions Targeting Cognitive Development. Annals of Sport Medicine and Research 3(4): 1073.

Causgrove-Dunn J, Cairney J, Zimmer C. (2016). Perspectives on the Contribution of Social Science to Adapted Physical Activity: Looking Forward, Looking Back. Quest 68(1): 15-28.

Cairney J, Clinton J, Veldhuizen S Rodriguez C, Cheryl Missiuna, Wade TJ, Szatmari P, Kertoy M. (2016). Evaluation of the Revised Nipissing District Developmental Screening (NDDS) Tool for Use in General Population Samples of Infants and Children. BMC Pediatrics 16: 42.

Mancini VO, Rigoli D, Cairney J, Roberts L, Piek JP. (2016). The Elaborated Environmental Stress Hypothesis as a Framework for Understanding the Association between Motor Skills and Internalizing Problems: A mini-review. Frontiers in Psychology 7:239.

King-Dowling S, Rodriguez C, Missiuna C, Cairney J. (2016). Validity of the Ages and Stages Questionnaire to Detect Risk of Developmental Coordination Disorder in Preschoolers. Child: Health, Care and Development 42(2):188-94.

deRuiter WK, Cairney J, Leatherdale S, Faulkner G. (2016) The Lifetime Prevalence of Risk Behaviour Co-Occurrence Among Canadians. Preventive Medicine 85:11-6.

Kwan M, King-Dowling SA, Hay JA, Faught BE, Cairney J. (2016). Longitudinal Examination of Objectively-Measured Physical Activity and Sedentary Behaviors among Children with and without Developmental Coordination Disorder. Human Movement Science 47:159-65.

Cairney J, Missiuna C, Timmons BW, Rodriguez C, Veldhuizen S, King-Dowling S, Wellman S, Le T. (2015). The Coordination and Activity Tracking in Children (CATCH) study: rationale and design.  BMC Public Health 15:1266.

Clark H, Camire M, Wade TJ, Cairney J. (2015). Sport participation and its association with social and psychological factors known to predict substance use and abuse among youth: a scoping review of the literature. International Review of Sport and Exercise Psychology, 8(1):224-250.

Currently Funded Projects

Principal Investigator (Co-PI) with Dr. Terrance Wade (Nominated PI), O-Leary DD (Co-PI).  Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs), Blood Pressure, and Cardiovascular Structure and Function from Childhood to Early Adulthood. Funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, Bridge Grant. July 2016-June 2017 ($100,000)

Co-investigator with Dr. LN Anderson and Dr. C.S. Birken (Co-PIs), D. Harrington, JL Maguire, H. Manson, PC Parkin, E Pullenayegum, M Tremblay, G Wahi. Evaluation of the Healthy Kids Community Challenge in Early Childhood. Funded by Canadian Institutes of Health Research, Operating Grant: Population Health Intervention Research to Promote Health and Health Equity. April 2016 – March 2018 ($248,668)

Co-investigator with Dr. Matthew Kwan (PI). Understanding Behavioural and Environmental Contexts of Young Adults Transitioning into University. Funded Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council. July 2014 – July 2016 ($74,304)

Co-investigator with Dr. James Dunn (PI), Eyles J, Collins P, Hobin E and Shankardass K. Healthier Built Environments Ontario: An Opportunity for Innovation in Mental Health & Obesity Policy.  April 2013 – March 2016 ($1,886,361 funded by Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care, Health Services Research Fund)

Principal investigator with Dr. Cheryl Missiuna (Co-PI), Dr. Brian Timmons (Co-PI), Dr. Michelle Howard, Dr. Matthew Kwan, Dr. David Price, Lisa Rivard, Scott Veldhuizen, Dr. Terrance Wade, Dr. Gita Wahi. Impact of Developmental Coordination Disorder on the physical health of young children: A five-year study of motor coordination, physical activity, physical fitness and obesity. CIHR Operating Grant. April 2013 – March 2018 ($1,579,006)

Co-investigator with Boyle MH (Co-PI), Georgiades KK (Co-PI), Afifi TO, Avison WR, Bennett KJ, Bennett TA, Boylan K, Butt ML, Cleverley KD, Cunningham CE, Davies S, Dirks MA, Dunn JR, Ferro M, Gonzalez A, Janus M, Jenkins JM, Lipman EL, Macmillan HL, Manion IG, Mclennan JD, Petitclerc AM, Rhodes AE, Rosenbaum PI, Sassi RB, Shepherd CA, Szatmari P, van Lieshout RJ, Waddell CA, Wekerle CM. Ontario Child Health Study Sequel. CIHR Operating Grant. April 2013 – March 2018 ($5,312,446)

Awards and Recognition

From 2002 to 2008, Dr. Cairney held a Canada Research Chair in Psychiatry at the University of Toronto.

He was the inaugural holder of the McMaster Family Medicine Research Chair in Child Health at McMaster and the founding Director of the Infant and Child Health (INCH) lab at McMaster University (www.inchlab.ca).

Dr. Cairney was President (elect) of the Canadian Academy of Psychiatry from 2009 to 2015.

He is currently a Board Member (elected) for the North American Society for Pediatric Exercise Medicine (NASPEM).

Active in publishing, Dr. Cairney sits on the Editorial Boards for the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health and BMC Pediatrics.

He is the inaugural Editor-in-Chief of Current Developmental Disorders Reports (Springer Publishing).

Dr. Cairney has also done extensive consulting work for the Ministries of Child and Youth Services, Health and Education in the province of Ontario. 

Professional Memberships

North American Society for Pediatric Exercise Medicine

Canadian Academy of Psychiatric Epidemiology

American College of Sports Medicine