Susan Holtzman

Associate Professor

Other Titles: Registered Psychologist #2006
Office: ASC 283
Phone: 250.807.8730

Graduate student supervisor

Research Summary

Considering graduate students (both streams) for 2022-23. Health psychology; adjustment to chronic illness; stress and coping; close relationships; caregiving; depression; chronic pain; organ transplantation; daily process methodologies; pathways through which the social environment can influence physical and emotional well-being in healthy and chronically ill populations.

Courses & Teaching

Introduction to psychology; health psychology.


Dr. Susan Holtzman is an Associate Professor of Psychology and Lead Investigator of the Health Psychology Lab at the University of British Columbia (Okanagan). She is a Registered Psychologist with the College of Psychologists of British Columbia.  Dr. Holtzman received her PhD in Clinical Psychology from the University of British Columbia in Vancouver. She completed a clinical internship at the University of Washington School of Medicine and a post-doctoral research fellowship at the University Health Network, University of Toronto.


Health Psychology Lab


MA University of British Columbia
PhD University of British Columbia

Research Interests & Projects

Social Relationships in the Digital Age
Text messaging and social media has become a preferred method of social communication among adolescents and young adults. The lab is currently using qualitative interviews, experimental paradigms and daily diary methods to understand how the use of text messaging influences the quality of social relationships and wellbeing among university students.

Coping with Acute and Chronic Pain
A number of ongoing studies are being conducted in the lab to better understand the role of psychosocial factors in coping with pain. In one study, individuals living with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and their significant others completed twice daily telephone interviews for one week (assessing pain, mood, stress, and social interactions). The goal of this study is to identify the key pathways through which social relationships can influence health in patients with RA. In other studies, experimental pain induction methods are being used to understand the impact of interpersonal rejection and traumatic life events on the experience of pain. Most recently, the lab has started to explore psychosocial factors that influence how we make judgments about pain in others.

Navigating the Road to Organ Transplantation
In collaboration with the University Health Network Multi Organ Transplant Program in Toronto, current research is exploring psychosocial factors that lead to optimal transplant outcomes for transplant recipients, their families, and living organ donors. One longitudinal dataset follows patients on the waitlist for a heart or lung transplant and their family caregivers. Other studies are being conducted to understand the experience of living organ donors, including pain and quality of life.

Selected Publications & Presentations

Holtzman, S., DeClerck, D.,* Turcotte, K.,* Lisi, D.,* & Woodworth, M. (2017). Emotional support during times of stress: Can text messaging compete with in-person interactions? Computers in Human Behavior, 71, 130-139.

Mandell, S. M., Smith, A. R., Dew, M. A., Gordon, D. B., Holtzman, S., Howell, T., DiMartini, A. F., Butt, Z., Simpson, M. A., Ladner, D. P., Freise, C. E., McCluskey, S. A., Fisher, R. A., Guarrera, J. V., Olthoff, K. M., Pomfret, E. A. (2016). Early Postoperative Pain and its Predictors in the Adult to Adult Living Donor Liver Transplantation Cohort Study (A2ALL). Transplantation, 100, 2362-71.

Holtzman, S., Landis, L.,* Walsh, Z., Puterman, E., Roberts, D., &Saya-Moore, K. (2016). Predictors of HIV testing among have sex with men living outside of major urban centres in British Columbia. AIDS Care, 28, 1-7.

Dew, M. A., DiMartini, A. F., Ladner, D. P., Simpson, M. A., Pomfret, E. A., Gillespie, B. W., Merion, R. M., Zee, J., Smith, A. R., Holtzman, S., Sherker, A. H., Weinrieb, R., Fisher, R. A., Emond, J. C., Freise, C. E., Burton, C. E., Butt, Z. (2016). Psychosocial Outcomes 3 to 10 Years After Donation in the Adult to Adult Living Donor Liver Transplantation Cohort Study (A2ALL). Transplantation, 100, 1257-69.

Lucas, P., Walsh, Z, Crosby, K., Callaway, R., Belle-Isle, L., Kay, B., Holtzman, S., & Capler, R. (2016). Substituting cannabis for prescription drugs, alcohol, and other substances among medical cannabis patients: The impact of contextual factors. Drug and Alcohol Review, 35, 326-33.

Barata, P., Holtzman, S., Cunningham, S., O’Connor, B., & Stewart, D.E. (2016).  Building a definition of irritability from academic definitions and lay descriptions. Emotion Review, 8, 164-72.

Beggs, T., Holtzman, S., & DeLongis, A. (2016). Predicting satisfaction with spouse responses among patients with rheumatoid arthritis. Annals of Behavioural Medicine, 50(1), 24-33.

Holtzman, S., Clarke, H., McCluskey, S., Turcotte, K., & Grant, D., Katz, J. (2015). Postsurgical pain and other complaints concerning surgical scars in living liver donors: A reply. Liver Transplantation, 21, 1110-1.

Holtzman, S., O’Connor, B., Barata, P., & Stewart, D. E. (2015).  The Brief Irritability Test (BITe):  A measure of irritability for use among men and women. Assessment, 22, 101-115.

Holtzman, S., Clarke, H., McCluskey, S., Turcotte, K.,* & Grant, D., Katz, J. (2014). Persistent post-surgical pain among living liver donors:  Incidence and predictors. Liver Transplantation, 20, 1336-46.

Lynne Belle-Isle, L, Walsh, Z., Callaway, R., Lucas, P., Capler, R., Kay, R., Holtzman, S. (2014). Cannabis for Therapeutic Purposes: Barriers to Access in Canada. International Journal of Drug Policy, 25, 691-699.

Holtzman, S. & Beggs, T. (2013). The efficacy of yoga for chronic low back pain: A meta-analysis. Pain Research and Management, 18, 267-72.

Walsh, Z., Callaway, R., Belle-Isle, L., Kay, R., Capler, R., Lucas, P., & Holtzman, S. (2013). The Cannabis Access for Medical Purposes Study (CAMPS): Patient characteristics, reasons for use, and modes of access in Canada. International Journal of Drug Policy, 24, 511-16.

Dyck, K. & Holtzman, S. (2013). Understanding humor styles and well-being: The importance of social relationships and gender.  Personality and Individual Differences, 55, 53-58.

Holtzman, S., Abbey, S.E., Chan, C.T., Bargman, J., & Stewart, D.E. (2012). IL-10-1082 cytokine polymorphism is related to depressive symptoms: A pilot study of inflammation among patients with end stage renal disease. Psychosomatics, 53, 155-61.


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