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Sharon Koehn

Senior Lecturer, Principal at Sharon Koehn Consulting

Dr. Sharon Koehn is a Senior Lecturer and Adjunct Professor in the Department of Gerontology at Simon Fraser University. She has developed her expertise as a medical anthropologist and gerontologist in the following areas:

  1. Ethnicity and Aging: Health inequities experienced by disadvantaged groups, esp immigrant older adults; sociocultural constructions of health, illness and health care; social determinants of health (esp gender, racialization, immigration history and status).
  2. Mental Health and Aging (esp. among immigrant older adults): Dementia experiences, pathways to dementia diagnosis, access to dementia services and supports; mental health promotion; social isolation; abuse prevention; chronic disease self-management and self-management supports.
  3. Methodological Approaches and Knowledge Mobilization. Community-based health research techniques esp qualitative; integrated knowledge translation (partnerships with health and social decision-makers and practitioners & community groups); action research and evaluation; knowledge synthesis, translation & exchange.


  • Postdoctorate (CIHR/CHSRF-CADRE funding; held at SFU (Gero) & VCH; simultaneously a Partners in Community Health Research postdoctoral trainee, UBC.
  • PhD (Medical Anthropology/Gerontology) University of Victoria, initially McGill
  • MA (Anthropology) University of Victoria
  • BA, First Class (Anthropology) University of Victoria


Ethnocultural minority and immigrant older adults with a focus on: health and healthcare; health promotion; elder abuse; quality of life

Selected Publications

Journal Articles

  • Brotman, S., Ferrer, I., & Koehn, S. (2019). Situating the life history narratives of aging immigrants within a structural context: The intersectional life course perspective as research praxis. Qualitative Research, online first. Doi: 10.1177/1468794119880746.
  • Koehn, S., Donahue, M., Feldman, F., & Drummond, N. (2019). Fostering trust and sharing responsibility to increase access to dementia care for immigrant older adults. Ethnicity & Health, online doi: 10.1080/13557858.2019.1655529.
  • Koehn, S., Reid, C., Baumbusch, J., & Li, N. (2018). 'It’s like chicken talking to ducks’ and other challenges to families of Chinese immigrant older adults in Long-term Residential Care. Journal of Family Nursing 24(2):156-183.
  • Koehn, S., Mahmood, A., & Stott-Eveneshen, S. (2016). Quality of Life for Diverse Older Adults in Assisted Living: The Centrality of Control. Journal of Gerontological Social Work, 59(7-8):512-536. doi: 10.1080/01634372.2016.1254699
  • Koehn, S., Habib, S., & Bukhari, S. (2016). S4AC case study: Enhancing underserved seniors’ access to health promotion programs. Canadian Journal on Aging, 35(1), 89-102. doi: 10.1017/S0714980815000586.
  • Koehn, S., Badger, M., Cohen, C., McCleary, L., Drummond, N. (2016). Negotiating Access to a Diagnosis of Dementia: implications for policies in health and social care. Dementia: The International Journal of Social Research and Practice. 15(6) 1436–1456 doi: 10.1177/1471301214563551.
  • Koehn, S., Jarvis, P., Sandhra, S., Bains, S., & Addison, M. (2014). Promoting mental health of immigrant seniors in community. Ethnicity and Inequalities in Health and Social Care 7(3), 146-156.
  • Koehn, S., Neysmith, S., Kobayashi, K., & Khamisa, H. (2013). Revealing the shape of knowledge using an intersectionality lens: Report on a scoping review on the health and health care access and utilization of ethnocultural minority older adults. Ageing & Society, 33, 437-464. doi: 10.1017/S0144686X12000013
  • Koehn, S., Spence, M., Jarvis, P., Garcia, L., McCleary, L., Drummond, N. (2012). Understanding Chinese–Canadian pathways to a diagnosis of dementia through a critical-constructionist lens. Journal of Aging Studies 26 (1), 44-54. doi: 10.1016/j.jaging.2011.07.002
  • Koehn, S., Kozak, J.-F., & Drance, E. (2012). ‘The Problem with Leonard’: A critical constructionist view of need-driven dementia-compromised behaviours. Dementia: The International Journal of Social Research and Practice. 11 (6):709-25. doi:10.1177/1471301211421264.
  • Koehn, S. (2009). Negotiating Candidacy: Access to Care for Ethnic Minority Seniors. Ageing & Society 29 (4): 585-608. doi:10.1017/S0144686X08007952

Knowledge Mobilization

Selected Works

  • Building Trust – Phase II: Suite of innovations to increase access to dementia (Mar 2018-Mar 2019). Fostered relationships with and between the Alzheimer’s Society of BC (ASBC) and immigrant serving agencies PICS and MOSAIC. Provided oversight of their collaborative development of a suite of pilot innovations informed by our research on experiences of dementia and barriers to and gaps in dementia services and supports for Punjabi- and Korean-speaking older adults and their families. Innovations include Navigating to Care YouTube video in Korean, a Korean Info-Card, a Dementia in the Workplace English curriculum delivered by settlement agencies for newcomers to Canada, and a Dementia Friends workshop modified for Punjabi older adults. All innovations subjected to pre-post evaluations.
  • Building Trust – Phase I: Knowledge mobilization forum, the G.A.M.E., and infographic
  • Learning from the Lived Experiences of Immigrant Older Adults (Dec 2018-Feb 2019). Three themed stakeholder forums that use the Lived Experiences photovoice exhibit as a springboard for discussions with policy and other decision-makers to effect change in their spheres of influence. Themes include (1) Disability, Housing, and Transportation (Dec 3, 2018; (2) Resilience, Social Connection and Community Organization (Feb 19, 2019); (3) Caregiving, Family and Homecare (Feb 26, 2019) – guest speaker: BC Senior’s Advocate. Organized in partnership with the Canadian Centre for Elder Law (1) and the United Way of the Lower Mainland (2 & 3).
  • The Lived Experiences of Aging Immigrants – A Narrative Photovoice Exhibit. Sunset Community Centre lobby, Vancouver, B.C. 3 introductory, 19 portrait, and 6 theme panels. Opening dates (May 11-12, 2017) included words of welcome and refreshments, attracted >150 visitors. Held over until July 1st, 2017 on request of community centre. Subsequently exhibited at Kerrisdale Community Centre. Silver Threads Seniors Centre and the West Vancouver Seniors’ Centre.
  • Environmental Influences on Quality of Life in Assisted Living: A Cross-Cultural Pilot Project – Knowledge translation events. Three interactive presentations and newsletters in English, Chinese and Punjabi on research findings targeted at residents and frontline and administrative staff of participating Assisted Living sites. Coordinated events and delivered presentations.
  • Innovative integrated knowledge translation approaches to research on health care access (forums/symposia and national knowledge synthesis collaborations with community stakeholders), chronic disease self-management, and mental health promotion.

*When links take you to a Researchgate project, click Project log and scroll down to access outputs. More examples of knowledge mobilization activities can be found on Dr. Koehn’s Researchgate site.

Celebrating 40 years