Dr. David Whitehurst

Associate Member

LL.B. [Law and Economics] (Keele University, UK)
M.Sc. [Health Economics] (University of York, UK)
Ph.D. [Primary Care Sciences (specialization in health economics)] (Keele University, UK)
Post-Doctoral Fellowship (University of British Columbia; funded by the Rick Hansen Institute)
Associate Professor (Faculty of Health Sciences, Simon Fraser University)

Research Interests

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One area of Dr. Whitehurst’s current research concerns the assessment of the quality of life for individuals living with spinal cord injury, with a specific interest in the validation of preference-based outcome measures suitable for use in economic evaluation. The concepts of health state description and valuation, comparability of alternative outcomes measures, and the application of economic evaluation techniques alongside clinical intervention studies have been common themes throughout his career. Other research interests include the paradigmatic distinction between clinical and economic evaluation, the implications of adaptation for health state valuation, and the relationship between health-related quality of life and subjective wellbeing.

Recent Collaborations:

Dr. Whitehurst was the project lead for Spinal Cord Injury & Secondary Complications: A Mixed-Methods Evaluation of  Preference-based Instruments (Rick Hansen Institute – Translation Research Program), with ICORD researcher Dr. Marcel Dvorak and Dr. Vanessa Noonan (Rick Hansen Institute) as the co-applicants. The major findings from this project are described in the section below.

He is a co-applicant with ICORD Researcher Dr. Andrei Krassioukov on the CIHR Team Grant: Improved Cardiovascular Outcomes for Chronic Spinal Cord Injury, which is currently ongoing. Dr. Whitehurst is also on an ICORD Seed Grant with Drs. John Kramer and Jacquelyn Cragg.

Major Findings:

According to a systematic review of preference-based health-related quality of life questionnaires in spinal cord injury research done by Dr. Whitehurst and his colleagues, cost-effectiveness is an increasingly important consideration for decision-makers in all areas of health care. However, there is a distinct lack of conceptual or empirical research regarding the appropriateness of alternative preference-based health-related quality-of-life measures for SCI populations.

‘Short Form’ health surveys – such as the SF-36 and SF-12 – are widely used in medical research. SCI is no exception, despite oft-cited concerns regarding measurement properties for populations with physical impairment. Dr. Whitehurst’s findings suggest that although standardized Short Form health surveys are common within SCI research, attempts to add, delete, or modify items have resulted in a number of variants, often with minimal supportive psychometric evidence.

A focus group study explored the views of individuals living with SCI towards six preference-based health-related quality-of-life instruments with the objective of identifying ‘preferred’ outcome measures (from the perspective of the participants). The 35-item AQoL-8D was considered to be comprehensive, with relevant content (i.e. wheelchair inclusive) and applicable items. Participants had mixed perceptions about the other questionnaires, albeit to varying degrees. Empirical, comparative analysis of the favoured instruments identified in this study is currently underway.

Web-based surveys/Techniques employed:

  • Focus groups
  • Analysis of registry data (RHSCIR)
  • Systematic reviews
  • Cohort studies
  • Psychometric validation
  • Economic evaluation

Affiliation with organizations and societies:

  • Health Economists’ Study Group (HESG)
  • International Society on Priorities in Health Care (ISPHC)
  • Society for Medical Decision Making (SMDM)
  • EuroQol Group
  • International Society for Quality of Life Research (ISOQOL)


Some of Dr. Whitehurst’s major awards and accomplishments include:

  • Vice-President, Academic’s 2017/18 Conference Funding (SFU, 2017)
  • EuroQol Group Panel Session Funding (EuroQol Group Executive Committee, 2016)
  • Vice-President, Academic’s 2016/17 Conference Funding (SFU, 2016)
  • CIHR Fellowship (2011-2012)
  • Postdoctoral Fellowship (Rick Hansen Institute, 2011-2013)

Current Lab Members

Masters Students Ph.D. Students Research Staff
Tamunoibim Sambo Amy Schneeberg Matthew Shupler
 Tim Ainge Yvonne Michel Louisa Edwards
Faaria Samnani Freda Warner
Karthika Yogaratnam

Trainee Awards

Year Name Award
2016 Lidia Engel
  • Travel Award (Monash University Melbourne, Australia)
  • Travel and Minor Research Award (Simon Fraser University)
2015 Lidia Engel
  • ICORD Travel Award
  • Travel Award for Health Policy Assembly (VCHRI)
  • Graduate Student Society Professional Development Grant
  • Travel Award (Centre for Clinical Epidemiology and Evaluation)
  • Graduate Fellowship Award (Simon Fraser University)
  • CADTH Travel Award
  • Travel and Minor Research Award (Simon Fraser University)
2014 Lidia Engel
  • Travel Award (Canadian Agency for Drugs and Technologies in Health)
  • Best Student Contribution (Vancouver Health Economics Methodology Conference)
2013  Lidia Engel
  • Travel Award (International Society for Pharmacoeconomics and Outcomes Research)

Current Opportunities In the Lab

If people are interested in opportunities related to his area of research,  please contact Dr. David Whitehurst.

Recent publications

  • Stenmarck, MS, Whitehurst, DG, Lurås, H, Rugkåsa, J. 2024. "It's hard to say anything definitive about what severity really is": lay conceptualisations of severity in a healthcare context.. BMC Health Serv Res. doi: 10.1186/s12913-024-10892-6.
  • Stenmarck, MS, Whitehurst, DG, Baker, R, Barra, M. 2024. Charting public views on the meaning of illness severity.. Soc Sci Med. doi: 10.1016/j.socscimed.2024.116760.
  • Mpundu-Kaambwa, C et al.. 2024. Exploring the Use of Pictorial Approaches in the Development of Paediatric Patient-Reported Outcome Instruments: A Systematic Review.. Pharmacoeconomics. doi: 10.1007/s40273-024-01357-z.
  • Ratcliffe, J et al.. 2024. Unravelling the Self-Report Versus Proxy-Report Conundrum for Older Aged Care Residents: Findings from a Mixed-Methods Study.. Patient. doi: 10.1007/s40271-023-00655-6.
  • Trenaman, L et al.. 2024. Quality of life of the Canadian population using the VR-12: population norms for health utility values, summary component scores and domain scores.. Qual Life Res. doi: 10.1007/s11136-023-03536-5.
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