Susan L. Murphy, ScD, OTR/L
Susan L. Murphy, ScD, OTR/L

Susan L. Murphy, ScD, OTR/L


Dr. Murphy is an Assistant Professor in the Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation Department, a Research Assistant Professor at the University of Michigan's Institute of Gerontology, and a Research Health Science Specialist at the VA Ann Arbor Health Care System, GRECC. Her primary research interest is to create and test interventions to manage chronic pain symptoms and promote physical activity in adults . . .  Her use of mobile technology over the last several years has served to examine how symptoms are associated with physical activity levels in samples with osteoarthritis and low back pain and how mobile technology can be used as a tool in interventions."  (Retrieved on July 14, 2015 from https://community.isr.umich.edu/public/Portals/11/Docs/Bios/murphysl.pdf.)


Identify three words that others have used to describe you.
Dedicated, generous, thoughtful.

How do you hope to make a difference in the world through research?
I hope to contribute to improvements in the quality of non-pharmacological chronic disease management in clinical care settings. For example, there is a large body of research supporting physical activity as a successful strategy to lessen the impact and prevent chronic disease, however physical activity programs are often disconnected from the health care system. Rehabilitation can play a big role in these types of programs since patients with chronic diseases often have multiple health issues that make sustaining a health behavior difficult.     

What is one piece of advice you have for individuals considering a career in science and research?
Make sure you are passionate about research and the potential career path. The passion and drive to find out an answer or reach a goal is a key to success in this career.

Beside your own areas of inquiry, what is one research priority that you believe is important for the future of occupational science and occupational therapy?
A few years ago I would have said effectiveness research, but now I think one fundamental element that would advance our field is theory development. I am struck by limitations in theories I draw from in my own work and think we have much to contribute for our own research as well as to other disciplines.

Describe the most important role that mentors played in your professional journey.  
Mentors provide support and it is ideal to have different mentors for different needs. Early on, it was important to have strong research mentors who could advise me on research design or teach me skills. I also had mentors who were great at providing guidance on career development and ones that were great at providing encouragement. I still have mentors, but these aren't always senior people, these are colleagues and even students. Anyone that teaches me something or makes me see something in a way I hadn't before is a mentor. The most important role all mentors have played is being invested in me and caring about my career path.  

Identify a favorite occupation that renews you outside of your work.
I love to exercise, particularly I am addicted to Zumba.

What has been the most surprising or rewarding aspects of a career in science and research?
The people I get to meet and work with in the US and around the world has been a wonderful aspect of this job. There are many smart, talented people out there who want to improve the lives of others. It has been great to meet so many different people and to be connected by this bigger cause.


Murphy, SL & Kratz, AL.  (2014). Activity pacing in daily life: A within-day analysis.  Pain. 155, 2630-2637.

Murphy, SL, Alexander, NB, Levoska, M & Smith, DM.  (2013). Relationship between fatigue and subsequent physical activity among older adults with symptomatic osteoarthritis. Arthritis Care and Research (Hoboken), 65, 1617-1624.

Murphy, SL, Kratz, AL, Williams, DA & Geisse, ME.  (2012 Sep 3). The association between symptoms, pain coping strategies, and physical activity among people with symptomatic knee and hip osteoarthritis. Frontiers in Psychology, 3:326. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2012.00326. eCollection 2012


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