Nicholas Spence

Nicholas Spence, a man with black hair and a short, tidy beard, wearing a black blazer and blue shirt
Assistant Professor
Telephone number
Building HL 474


Professor Spence joins the Health Studies Program from Harvard University and Massachusetts General Hospital where he was a research fellow. With a general focus on social inequality and the multiple determinants of health and well-being, Professor Spence is currently working on a variety of research topics, including the relationship between psychosocial exposures, stress, and health; health services and clinical research on obesity; political trust, national pride, and sense of belonging; and Indigenous health and well-being.



  • Ph.D, Sociology, University of Western Ontario
  • B.A. (Honors), Sociology, University of Western Ontario



  • Harvard University & Massachusetts General Hospital Center on Genomics, Vulnerable Populations and Health Disparities
  • Canadian Obesity Network
  • Aboriginal Policy Research Consortium

Teaching Interests

  • Research methods (qualitative and quantitative)
  • Obesity
  • Program and policy evaluation
  • Health promotion
  • Social inequality
  • Indigenous health

Research Interests

  • Social inequality
  • Policy
  • Health services
  • Sociology of medicine and health
  • Social epidemiology
  • Chronic and infectious disease
  • Pandemics
  • Obesity 
  • Gene-environment interactions
  • Mental health
  • Addictions
  • Stress
  • Safe water
  • Economic development
  • Education
  • Labor markets
  • Well-being
  • Indigenous peoples

Awards and Grants


2015 Women and Children’s Health Research Institute (Alberta, Canada), Co-Investigator, “Is There a Role for Home Visits to Manage Pediatric Obesity?”


2014 University Students’ Council Teaching Honor Roll - The University of Western Ontario


2013-2016 Canadian Men’s Health Network, Co-Investigator, “Acting locally to address a national problem: a participatory action approach to addressing First Nations boys' and men's mental health.”





·        Gehring N, Ball GDC, Perez A, Holt NL, Neuman D, Spence ND, Mercier L, Jetha MM. (2018). “Families’ perceived benefits of home visits for managing paediatric obesity outweigh the potential costs and barriers.” Acta Paediatrica 107(2):315-321.

·        Nobles JD, Perez A, Skelton JA, Spence ND, Ball GD. (2018). “The engagement pathway: A conceptual framework of engagement-related terms in weight management.” Obesity Research and Clinical Practice 12(2):133-138.

·        Asgary S, Salehizadeh L, Keshvari M, Taheri M, Spence ND, Farvid MS, Rafieian-Kopaei M, Sarrafzadegan N. (2018). “Potential cardio-protective effects of sumac capsule in patients with hyperlipidemia: A triple-blind randomized, placebo-controlled crossover trial.” Journal of the American College of Nutrition 37(4):286-292.

·        Ball GDC, Spence ND, Ho J, Holt N, Srikameswaran S, Gokiert R, Kuk J, Morrison K, Carson V, Browne NE, Geller J. (2017). “The Readiness and Motivation Interview for Families (RMI-Family) managing pediatric obesity: Study protocol.” BMC Health Services Research 17(1):261. doi 10.1186/s12913-017-2201-8.

·        Ball GDC, Perez A, Nobles J, Spence ND, Skelton JA. (2017). “Letter to the Editor: ‘Pediatric Obesity – Assessment, Treatment, and Prevention: An Endocrine Society Clinical Practice Guideline.’” Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism 102(6):2121-2122.

·        Spence ND, Newton MS, Keaschuk RA, Ambler KA, Jetha MM, Rosychuk RJ, Holt NL, Spence JC, Sharma AM, Ball GDC. (2017). “Predictors of Attrition from the Parents as Agents of Change (PAC) Randomized Control Trial.” Journal of Pediatric Health Care 31(3):293-301.

·        Avis J, Komarnicki A, Farmer A, Holt NL, Perez A, Spence ND, Ball GDC. (2016). “The Use and Suitability of Tools and Resources for Childhood Obesity Prevention in Primary Care: A Mixed Methods Study.” Patient Education and Counselling 99(5):769-75.

·        Spence ND, Wells S, Graham K, George, J. (2016). “Racial Discrimination, Cultural Resilience and Stress: A Compensatory Model of Resilience.” Canadian Journal of Psychiatry 61(5):298-307.   

·        Spence ND. (2016). “Does social context matter? The intersection of income inequality, racialization, and health in the case of Canada’s First Nations population using a multilevel approach.” Journal of Racial and Ethnic Health Disparities 3(1):21-34.

·        Brown B, Smolikova-Wachowiak R, Spence ND, Wachowiak M, Walters D. (2016). “Why do some First Nations communities have safe water and other not? Socioeconomic determinants of drinking water risk.” Global Journal of Health Sciences 8(9):99-106.

·        Spence ND, Birken C, Haines J, Ball GDC. (2015). “Back to the future: A case for home visits in managing severe pediatric obesity.” Acta Paediatrica 140(6):547-549.

·        Spence ND, Wells S, George J, Graham K. (2014). “An examination of marijuana use among a vulnerable population.” Journal of Racial and Ethnic Health Disparities 1(4):247-256.

·        Olver D, Thomas G, Hamilton C, Spence ND. (2013). “Putting eggs and cigarettes in the same basket; are you yolking?” Atherosclerosis 227(1): 184-185.

·        White JP, Spence ND, Maxim PS. (2013). “A New Approach to Understanding Aboriginal Educational Outcomes: The Role of Social Capital.” In Approaches to Aboriginal Education in Canada: Searching for Solutions, pp. 161-179, edited by Widdowson F, Howard A. Brush Education, Incorporated: Edmonton.

·        Spence ND, Walters D. (2012). “Is it safe? Risk perception and drinking water in a vulnerable population.” International Indigenous Policy Journal (Special Edition on Water).

·        Walters D, Spence ND, Kuikman K, Singh B. (2012). “Multi-barrier protection of drinking water systems: A comparison of First Nations and non-First Nation communities in Ontario” International Indigenous Policy Journal 3(3) Special Edition on Water.

·        White JP, Murphy L, Spence ND. (2012). “Water and Indigenous Peoples: Canada’s Paradox” International Indigenous Policy Journal 3(3) Special Edition on Water.

·        Spence ND and White JP. (2011). “An Assessment of Urban Aboriginal Economic Development.” Regions: Economics and Sociology – Academy of Science Russian Federation 3.

·        Spence ND, Wingert S, White JP. (2011). “The Economic Development Capacity of Urban Aboriginal Peoples.” In Urban Aboriginal Communities in Canada: Complexities, Challenges, Opportunities, pp. 61-100, edited by Dinsdale P, White J, Hanselmann C. Thompson Educational Publishing: Toronto.

·        Wingert S, Spence ND, White J. (2011). “Profiles of Low Income Risk Among Aboriginal Peoples.” In Urban Aboriginal Communities in Canada: Complexities, Challenges, Opportunities, edited by Dinsdale P, White JP, Hanselmann C.  Thompson Educational Publishing: Toronto.

·        Grabb E, Spence ND. (2011). “Social Inequality.” In Introduction to Sociology: A Canadian Focus (10th Edition), edited by, Hewitt W, White JP, Teevan JJ. Pearson: Toronto.

·        Spence ND, White JP. (2011). “Scientific Certainty in a Time of Uncertainty: Predicting Vulnerability of Canada’s First Nations to Pandemic H1N1/09.” In Aboriginal Policy Research: Health and Well-Being Volume IX, pp. 161-182, edited by White JP, Peters J, Dinsdale P, Beavon D.

·        Capone K, Spence ND, White JP. (2011). “Examining the Association between Aboriginal Language Skills and Well-Being in First Nations Communities.” In Aboriginal Policy Research: Health and Well-Being Volume IX, pp.57-78, edited by White JP, Peters J, Dinsdale P, Beavon D.  

·        Spence ND, White JP. (2010). “Thinking About Service Delivery: Aboriginal Providers, Universal Providers, and the Role of Friendship Centers.” In Aboriginal Policy Research Volume VIII: Exploring the Urban Landscape, edited by White J, Bruhn J. Toronto: Thompson Educational Publishing.