Dr. Meghan McDonough

Research interests

Dr. Meghan McDonough, PhD, leads the Relationships and Exercise Lab. Her research examines the role of social relationships in physical activity and health behavior. Her research is informed by theoretical and empirical work on emotional and motivational processes, coping with stress, posttraumatic growth, and self-perceptions. McDonough's research has examined these questions in a variety of populations, with a particular focus on clinical populations, chronic disease, and underserved or marginalized populations across the lifespan.

Current Work

Social Support through Physical Activity for Cancer Survivors

This line of research examines the role of social support and physical activity in the lives of cancer survivors. In particular, McDonough is interested in the role that social relationships play in positive psychological growth and adaptation following the often traumatic experience of cancer, and in facilitating health behaviors, especially exercise. Many of her studies have focused on group programs for cancer survivors, examining social support, physical self-perceptions, posttraumatic growth, motivation, decision-making, stressors, and coping. McDonough is currently conducting a study examining components of social support in physical activity and links to exercise behavior and quality of life.  

Collaborative Physical Activity Interventions for Older Adults

McDonough is examining social support processes and collaborative interventions to promote physical activity among older adults. Her current work focused on how interpersonal mechanisms support physical activity adoption and maintenance, and psychological well-being.

Physical Activity-Based Positive Youth Development for Underserved Youth

McDonough has conducted several studies examining links between social relationships formed in physical activity-based positive youth development programs and psychological, academic, and health and risk behavior outcomes. Her previous research has primarily focused on youth living in poverty. McDonough is currently part of an interdisciplinary team examining the effects of playground interventions on physical activity and social interactions through activity among youth.

Physical Activity and Movement Interventions for Individuals with Parkinson’s Disease

McDonough has examined the role that physical activity plays in the life of individuals with Parkinson’s disease, including psychological and social experiences of participants in physical activity programs and movement interventions, as well as how psychological effects of exercise are integrated with outcomes in other domains.

Research and teaching

Psychosocial Aspects of Health & Sport

  • Health & Exercise Psychology
  • Social Relationships in Physical Activity
  • Motivation
  • Stress, Coping, and Emotion
  • Physical Activity for Cancer Survivors
  • Positive Youth Development
  • Exercise Physiology & Nutrition in Health & Sport: Aging

Biological Data

Associate Professor

Faculty of Kinesiology

PhD - Human Kinetics, Sport and Exercise Psychology

University of British Columbia, 2006

MS - Human Kinetics, Sport and Exercise Psychology

University of British Columbia, 2002

BS Great Distinction - Kinesiology

University of Saskatchewan, 2000


2019 - Reviewer of the Year - Sport, Exercise, and Performance Psychology

2018 - Pittu Laungani Best Paper Prize - International Journal of Health Promotion

2016 - Mentor of the Year - Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation

2012 - Graduate Teaching Award - Department of Health & Kinesiology, Purdue University

2011 - Teaching for Tomorrow Fellowship - Purdue University

2006 - Student Paper Award - North American Society for the Psychology of Sport and Physical Activity

2006 - Franklin Henry Young Scientist Award - Canadian Society of Psychomotor Learning and Sport Psychology

2004 - Senior Graduate Fellowship - Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research

2003 - Canada Doctoral Fellowship - Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada