MSc student, Public Health and Health Systems

Emily Rutter.


MSc, Public Health and Health Systems, 2016 - 2019

Graduate supervisor

Suzanne Tyas

My thesis

My thesis investigated the relationship between social support availability—how much support you perceive as available to you when needed—and cognitive function in the Canadian Longitudinal Study on Aging (CLSA), an ongoing study of over 50,000 community-dwelling Canadian adults between the ages of 45 and 85. Specifically, I looked at whether low perceived social support (overall and different subtypes) was associated with low executive function, a key domain of cognitive function. I found that even after accounting for a variety of sociodemographic (e.g., age, education, income, province), health (e.g., chronic conditions, self-rated health), and social variables (e.g, marital status, pet companionship), those with low social support availability were more likely to have low executive function. Interestingly, I found that this association differed for men and women, as well as by subtype of support.

My full thesis is available on UW Space.

My time in the School of Public Health and Health Systems (SPHHS)

Perhaps inspired by my thesis work, I became involved with several social groups and committees during my time in the SPHHS—the highlight of my involvement being the year I spent as co-president of the SPHHS Graduate Student Association (GSA). Although introverted, I found the open and encouraging environment of SPHHS the ideal place for me to develop my own voice and take on new roles I would never have considered before.

University of Waterloo