Picture of Dr. Nancy Gyurcsik

Dr. Nancy Gyurcsik Professor

PAC 327

Research Area(s)

  • Social Psychology
  • Women's Health

Research Description

My broad area of expertise is in exercise psychology. The overall aim of my research is to identify complementary theory-based psychosocial factors that impact adherence to physical activity. I am also interested in designing and testing theory-based interventions that target changes in problematic psychosocial factors in order to enhance adherence and, in turn, health and well-being.

I have expertise in studying psychosocial predictors of adherence among healthy individuals as well as individuals with chronic disease. I am especially interested in adults with arthritis or, more broadly, adults with chronic pain. Public health recommendations are that adults should engage in at least 150 minutes each week of moderate to vigorous activity. However, individuals with chronic disease often times struggle to meet this recommendation, thereby not achieving both health and disease self-management benefits.

Thus, identifying psychosocial factors that differentiate adults with chronic disease who are more or less active is one area of focus. I investigate activity-related psychosocial factors (e.g., barriers, self-regulatory efficacy beliefs), disease-specific factors (e.g., pain), and positive psychological factors (e.g., pain acceptance, psychological flexibility, resilience). This complementary perspective is unique, addressing real-world factors that work together to impact activity adherence.

My research program has been supported, in part, by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), the Saskatchewan Health Research Foundation (SHRF), the Social Sciences and Humanites Research Council of Canada (SSHRC), and the Saskatchewan Community Initiatives Fund. I have an active research lab, with undergraduate and graduate students being regularly engaged and successful across various research experiences. I work with internationally recognized researchers in academic and community-based settings.

Interested in Graduate Studies?

If you are interested in pursuing graduate studies with Dr. Gyurcsik, please go to Graduate Training Opportunities for more information.

Courses Taught

  • KIN 232.3 - Physical Activity in Society
  • KIN 830.3 - Psychosocial Aspects of Health and Exercise Behaviour

Academic Background

  • PhD (Exercise Psychology), University of Waterloo
  • MSc (Sport Psychology), University of Windsor
  • BSc (Movement Sciences), University of Windsor


Grant News

Our research team was awarded two different grants that focus on helping exercise professionals work with clients who have chronic non-cancer pain. Funds were awarded the Saskatchewan Health Research Foundation and the Saskatchewan Community Initiatives Fund. Our team is diverse, being made up of faculty from Kinesiology (Dr.'s Gyurcsik, Brawley, Arnold), other U of S faculty (Dr.'s Downe and Hellsten), Saskatoon Health Region (Dr. Tupper), Colorado School of Public Health (Dr. Brittain), our community consultant, Don Ratcliffe-Smith, and our graduate research assistant (Miranda Cary). We look forward to delivering workshops on exericse and chronic pain to Saskatchewan exercise professionals in the coming months. 

Webinar on Exercise and Chronic Pain

If you are interested in viewing Dr. Gyurcsik's invited webinar by the Canadian Institute for the Relief of Pain and Disability on "Is exercising with chronic pain as easy as "Just do it?", follow this link: http://cirpd.org/Webinars/Pages/Webinar.aspx?wbID=89


Our lab group is on social media:

Follow Dr. Nancy Gyurcsik: @NancyGyurcsik on Twitter

Follow Miranda Cary: @MirandaACary on Twitter

Follow Jocelyn Blouin: @JBlouin16 on Twitter

Follow Mackenzie Marchant: @MarchantMack on Twitter


Example Publications

*Cary, M.A., Gyurcsik, N.C., & Brawley, L.R. (2015). Prediction of adaptive self-regulatory responses to arthritis pain anxiety in exercising adults: Does pain acceptance matter? Pain Research and Management, 20(2), 67-74. pii: 16545

*Sessford, J.D., Brawley, L.R., & Gyurcsik, N.C. (2015). Examination of self-regulatory efficacy and pain among individuals challenged by arthritis flares. Rehabilitation Psychology, 60(1), 45-53. doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/rep0000020

Gyurcsik, N.C., *Cary, M.A., *Sessford, J.D., #Flora, P.K., & Brawley, L.R. (2015). Pain, pain anxiety, and negative outcome expectations for activity: Do negative psychological profiles differ between the inactive and active? Arthritis Care and Research, 67(1), 58-64. Note: The Editor selected our article to be published in this special issue on Mobility and Rheumatic Disease. Our article was one of 12 papers that were published.

Gyurcsik, N.C., Brawley, L.R., Spink, K.S., & *Sessford, J.D. (2013). Meeting physical activity recommendations: Self-regulatory efficacy characterizes differential adherence during arthritis flares. Rehabilitation Psychology, 58(1), 43-58. doi: 10.1037/a0031293 

* = Graduate student trainee. # = Postdoctoral fellow

Complete Publication List

Pub Med

Google Scholar

External Grant Funding

Dr. Gyurcsik's research program has been funded by various organizations, such as the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), Social Sciencies and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC), Saskatchewan Health Research Foundation (SHRF), and Saskatchewan Community Initiatives Fund. 

Funding Examples

Gyurcsik, N.C., Tupper, S.M., Arnold, B.E., Brawley, L.R., Brittain, D.R., Downe, P.J., & Hellsten, L.M. (2017 – 2018). Exploring the effectiveness of an in-person integrated counselling training module to increase exercise providers' knowledge and beliefs to instruct and educate Saskatchewan adults with chronic non-cancer pain. Saskatchewan Health Research Foundation (SHRF), Collaborative Innovation Development Grant. Purpose: To develop, test, and refine an exercise provider integrated counselling training module on chronic pain and exercise. 

Gyurcsik, N.C., Tupper, S.M., & Brawley, L.R. (2016). Targeting physical activity service providers to enhance their programming and education for adults with chronic non-cancer pain. Saskatchewan Community Initiatives Fund. Purpose: To develop and test educational resources designed to enhance Saskatchewan community-based physical activity providers' knowledge about strategies to enhance their programming and education for adults with chronic non-cancer pain.  

Gyurcsik, N.C., Brawley, L.R., Spink, K.S., & Strachan, S. (2012-2016). Managing arthritis using physical activity: Identifying disease- and activity-specific psychosocial beliefs to improve adherence. Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) – Regional Partnership Program with the Saskatchewan Health Research Foundation (SHRF) Operating Grant. Purpose: To identify key activity- and disease-specific psychosocial beliefs affecting adherence to the recommended dose of physical activity for arthritis management among adults and to predict their persistence in challenging contexts. 

Graduate Students

Miranda A. Cary:

Miranda is a PhD student and former MSc student of Dr. Gyurcsik. Miranda is conducting her dissertation-related program of research and is a highly decorated graduate student, being awarded a prestigous University of Saskatchewan PhD Dean's Award. She also served as a Project Coordinator (CIHR-SHRF grant) and a Research Assistant (Community Initiatives Funds) during her graduate studies in the College of Kinesiology. Miranda has numerous presentations at scientific conferences as well as an established record of refereed journal publications. 

Miranda is currently conducting her dissertation research. Broadly, her focus is on psychosocial factors important for adults with chronic pain to engage in regular physical activity. 

Jocelyn E. Blouin:

Jocelyn is a PHD student and former Masters student of Dr. Gyurcsik. Jocelyn will be developing her program of research for her dissertation and working at publishing her Masters thesis reserach in the coming months.

Jocelyn has presented research at scientific conferences and has served as a Research Assistant on our CIHR-SHRF grant. 

Mackenzie Marchant:

Mackenzie is a MSc student. Over the summer months, Mackenzie will work with Dr. Brawley and Dr. Gyurcsik (co-supervisors) in developing her thesis research.

Graduate Training Opportunities

Interested in pursing a PhD or MSc with Dr. Gyurcsik? 

Do you have a broad interest in figuring out how we can help people be more physically active in order to achieve health benefits or better manage their chronic disease (e.g., arthritis, chronic pain, etc.)? 

If you answered yes to both questions, check out the articles that our research group, including graduate students, have published. We investigate psychosocial factors that differentiate adults who are more or less active. We are also interested in intervening to help the less active enhance their physical activity levels. Please email Dr. Gyurcsik indicating your interest, background, qualifications, and unique qualities that you can offer as a member of our research group.