Skip to main content

Janine Farragher, PhD

Award:  KRESCENT New Investigator Award
Institution:  University of Toronto
Year:  2022-2025

Study title:  Investigating Pathways to Promote Life Participation in Kidney Failure

Dr. Janine Farragher is a registered occupational therapist and an Assistant Professor in the Department of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy at the University of Toronto. She completed a PhD in Rehabilitation Sciences from the University of Toronto, and a postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Calgary with the Interdisciplinary Chronic Disease Collaboration.
Dr. Farragher’s research uses a rehabilitative lens to understand life participation and its enablement in people with chronic kidney disease. She has co-led studies showing that conditions such as cognitive impairment & frailty are common in kidney disease and contribute to disability, and that inpatient rehabilitation can minimize functional losses after dialysis is initiated. Dr. Farragher has also led the development and testing of a novel energy management program (The “PEP” Program) to promote life participation for people on chronic hemodialysis with debilitating fatigue. Dr. Farragher’s overarching research objective is to elucidate the broad range of cognitive, psychosocial, and environmental factors that impact life participation in chronic kidney disease, so underexamined factors can be highlighted and proactively targeted in clinical care. Dr. Farragher has been the recipient of more than $410 000 in Tri-Council training awards, and has contributed to prominent national and international kidney care initiatives such as the development of a CKD self-management website (My Kidneys, My Health) and a standardized measure of life participation for people on peritoneal dialysis therapy (SONG-PD).

Lay Summary
My research studies how to help people with kidney failure participate in life activities that are important to them. People with kidney failure are living longer than ever before because of treatments like dialysis. However, they often find it hard to complete daily tasks like laundry, shopping, or working, while also keeping up with regular dialysis treatments. It can be also be hard for them to accomplish activities they enjoy, like going for a walk or getting together with friends. While we know that kidney disease can cause problems with daily living, we don't have a clear sense of why people with kidney disease are unable to do activities they want to do, or how we can best support them. There are many reasons why people with kidney disease might find daily activities hard – for example, kidney disease can cause tiredness, cramps, weakness, or difficulty concentrating. Dialysis is also an exhausting treatment that can drain people's energy. It is important for us to figure out exactly why kidney disease makes daily activities more difficult, so we can find treatments that will help people do the things they love. My research will study why people with kidney failure are not able to engage in daily activities they want to do, and what can be done to help them in this area of their lives. In one study, I will see whether a program that teaches people how to manage their fatigue throughout the day helps them to accomplish life goals, like cooking for their family or going on outings. People with kidney disease also sometimes have more difficulty thinking clearly. In another study, I will look at whether this prevents them from doing things like going out in the community, grocery shopping, or managing their medications. Other studies will look at whether spending time at the dialysis unit might play a role in making people sad or depressed, and, whether there is more we could be doing to support family and friends who care for people on peritoneal dialysis. Patients will be involved in all parts of my research. All of the studies I plan to do will involve at least one patient partner in the research process, and patients will be invited to contribute to the design and discussion of all projects and results.