Professor Donna Stewart

Departments of Psychiatry, Obstetrics and Gynecology, Anesthesia, Surgery, Medicine and the Department of Family and Community Medicine

Appointed a University Professor in 2004

Professor Donna Stewart is an international pioneer in women’s health research.  Her research contributions fall into three main areas of women’s health: public health, the relationship between the body and mind (psychosomatics) and mental health. 

Professor Stewart has conducted numerous public health and health promotion studies in perinatal health to improve the health of pregnant and postpartum women.  She has studied health behaviours, childbirth, and the prevention of postpartum depression and other psychological disorders.  She has conducted studies on screening in pregnancy, new reproductive technologies, health education, depression, health promotion (breast screening, Pap smears, and prevention of sexually transmitted diseases, smoking prevention) and violence against women.  Her study of women’s health has been done in the context of Canadian multicultural society with research done in specific communities in order to ascertain their respective public health and health service needs.   Notably, Professor Stewart’s work helped to establish the structure and context for research in women’s health.  Her public health research has directly affected government policy and stimulated government projects such as national prevention campaigns and changes in the nature of health information gleaned from women. Her seminal research on adverse drug reactions has resulted in drug licensing and labeling changes in Canada and abroad. She has been an extraordinary mentor to many including those pursuing their PhD degrees and postgraduate medical students.

Professor Stewart is a leading investigator in the field of psychosomatic medicine research.  She has conducted research on psychosomatic aspects of cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes, pelvic pain, chronic pain and chronic conditions.  She has also evaluated the decision-making processes used by women who suffer from serious illnesses such as heart disease and cancer.   Professor Stewart has systematically evaluated vague and confusing medical-psychiatric illnesses such as environmental hypersensitivity and chronic fatigue.  Her work in this area has clarified a number of ambiguities associated with these conditions and has lead to more appropriate diagnosis and treatment of these conditions.

Professor Stewart is also a leading researcher in women’s mental health.  She has published important works concerning the psychological aspects of various aspects of a woman’s life cycle to include psychiatric aspects of infertility, pregnancy, abortion and miscarriage.  She has defined the prevalence and treatment of common psychiatric disorders that occur during a woman’s reproductive life such as post-partum mood disorders, premenstrual dysphoric disorder and depression during perimenopause. 

Professor Stewart is an advisor to Health Canada and sits on the Ontario Women’s Health Council.  She is a Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada, the American College of Psychiatrists, the Academy of Psychosomatic Medicine, the International College of Psychosomatic Medicine as well as a Distinguished Fellow of the American Psychiatric Association. She is President of the International Association of Women’s Mental Health and Chair of the Section of Women’s Mental Health of the World Psychiatric Association.

Professor Stewart holds an MD from Queen’s University (1967), a PhD. Psychiatry from the University of Toronto (1971) and a FRCPC, Psychiatry, Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada (1972).  She has been a faculty member at the University of Toronto since 1973.  In 1995 she was appointed as the world’s first chair in Women’s Health (a joint University of Toronto and University Health Network Chair). 

May 2004