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Family, Child, Youth, and Ageing Studies Social Work and Human Service ManagementSocial Policy, Social Welfare, and Community Development

danial w.l

Chair Professor of Social Work and Gerontology & Head; Director, Institute of Active Ageing


PhD (Case Western)
MSW (Calgary)
MSocSc (HKU)





Family caregiving
Working with older adults
Immigrant & refugee Issues
Multicultural and diversity Issues
Quality of life and social determinants of health
Social policy
Social services and non-profit organizations -- management & evaluation


My URLs:


Currently not teaching any courses



Mitacs 2015 Globalink Research Internship (2015)
Killam Annual Professor, University of Calgary (07/2014-06/2015)
Distinguished Professional Award, Immigrants of Distinction Awards 2005, Calgary Immigrant Aid Society (04/2005)
Alberta Heritage Health Scholar Award, Alberta Heritage Foundation for Medical Research (07/2003-06/2009)



Professor Lai joins the Hong Kong Polytechnic University with over 25 years of social work teaching, research, and academic administrative experience. Before joining the academy, he worked in family services, senior services, and non-profit fund raising organizations in Hong Kong and Canada. He received his Doctor of Philosophy in Social Welfare from Case Western Reserve University, and has held faculty positions in various higher education institutions in Hong Kong and Canada. Professor Lai was Associate Professor at the Faculty of Social Work of the University of Calgary between 2000 and 2005, and was promoted to Full Professor in 2005. From 2008 to 2013, he also held the position of Associate Dean for Research and Partnerships at the University of Calgary Faculty of Social Work.

Professor Lai is an internationally renowned scholar in the field of social work and gerontology, health and aging, culture and immigration, and outcome evaluation. A prolific scholar with an impressive publication record, he has obtained numerous competitive research grants as principal investigator from various “gold standard” national and international grant councils including the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada and the Canadian Institutes of Health Research. He previously acted as the Social Policy and Practice Section Editor for the Canadian Journal on Aging, and is currently on the editorial board of Research on Aging. In recognition of his academic contributions, Professor Lai was named Alberta Heritage Health Scholar for 2003-2009 and Killam Annual Professor for 2014-2015.

Professor Lai served as board member for many major non-profit community agencies and professional organizations at the local, national, and international level, including the United Way of Calgary and the Area, Alzheimer Society of Calgary, Calgary Family Services, Canadian Mental Health Association, American Society on Aging, and Canadian Association of Gerontology. In 2008, Professor Lai also served on the Alberta Demographic Planning Commission of the Government of Alberta in Canada, overseeing the public consultation process that led to the development of the Population Aging Policy Framework in Alberta. On regularly basis, Professor Lai was invited to lead research projects related to population aging and immigration for the various departments of the Government of Canada.


Current Research Projects :

  • Lai, D. (PI). Intra-group dynamics and social exclusion: experience of Mainland Chinese immigrants to Canada (Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, 2014-2018)
  • Lai, D. (PI). Reducing stigma of mental illness among boys and men in Asian communities in Canada: An innovative and comprehensive intervention (Movember Canada, 2013-2016)
  • Lai, D. (Co-I). Social participation of baby boomers: Practices, future expectations and institutional readiness (Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council, 2013-2016)
  • Lai, D. (Co-I). Understanding the process of building social capital in the economic integration of recent and long-term Chinese immigrants (Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council, 2012-2015)


Recent Research Grants:

  • Lai, D. (Co-I). Comparative review of the policy landscape on team based primary health care service delivery in Western Canada (Canadian Institutes of Health Research, 2013-2014)
  • Lai, D. (PI). Unspoken skills and tactics: Essentials for immigrant professionals in integration to workplace culture (Royal Bank of Canada – Investing in New Canadians Research Grant, 2012-2014)
  • Lai, D. (PI). Social work with Chinese communities: Integration of research and professional practice in a global
  • Lai, D. (Co-I). Building knowledge on determinants of health of immigrants in smaller cities: A Photovoice study (Canadian Institutes of Health Research, 2011-2014) context (Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, 2012-2014)
  • Lai, D. (PI). Roles and challenges of immigrant and ethno-cultural organizations in the health system: A case in Calgary (Mount Royal University Institute for Non-profit Studies -- Applied Research Fund, 2013)
  • Lai, D. (PI). Perspectives of the business sector on social enterprise (Trico Charitable Foundation, 2011-2012)


Selected Peer Reviewed Journal Articles:

  • Bai, X., Lai, D.W.L., & Guo, A. (in press). Ageism and depression: Perceptions of older people as a burden in China. Journal of Social Issues, 72(1).
  • Shankar, J., Liu, L., Nicholas, D., Warren, S., Lai, D., Tan, S., ... & Sears, A. (2014). Employers’ perspectives on hiring and accommodating workers with mental illness. SAGE Open, 4(3), 2158244014547880.
  • Choi, J.Y., Kushner, K.E., Mill, J., & Lai, D.W.L. (2014). Health experiences of Korean immigrant women in retirement. Health Care for Women International, Published online October 30, 2014.
  • Lai, D.W.L., Daoust, G.D., & Li, L. (2014). Understanding elder abuse and neglect in aging Chinese immigrants in Canada. The Journal of Adult Protection, 16(5), 322-334.
  • Choi, J., Kusher, K.E., Mill, J., Lai, D.W.L. (2014). The experience of Korean women adjusting to Canadian society. Journal of Cross Cultural Gerontology, 29(3), 277-297.
  • Lai, D.W.L., & Andruske, C. (2014). Uncovering the hidden treasures and strengths contributions of aging Chinese in Canada. International Journal of Sociology of the Family, 40(1), 71-96.
  • Lai, D.W.L., & Surood, S. (2013). Effects of service barriers on health status of aging South Asian immigrants in Canada. Health and Social Work, 38(1), 41-50.
  • Choi, J.Y, Kushner, K.E., Mill, J., & Lai, D.W.L. (2012). Understanding the language, the culture, and the experience: Translation in cross-cultural research. International Journal of Qualitative Methods, 11(5), 652-665.
  • Lai, D.W.L., & Tong, H.M. (2012). Effect of social exclusion variables on attitude toward aging of older adults living along in Shanghai. Asian Journal of Gerontology and Geriatrics, 7(2), 88-94.
  • Tsang, A.K.T., Fuller-Thomson, E., & Lai, D.W.L. (2011). Sexuality and health among Chinese seniors in Canada. Journal of International Migration and Integration, 13(4), 525-540.
  • Lai, D.W.L. (2012). Effect of financial costs on caregiving burden of family caregivers of older adults. Sage Open, 2(4), 1-14.
  • Lai, D.W.L. (2011). Ethnic identity of older Chinese in Canada. Journal of Cross-Cultural Gerontology, 27, 103-117. DOI: 10.1007/s10823-011-9157-7
  • Tong, H.M., Lai, D.W.L., Zeng, Q., Xu, W.Y. (2011). Effects of social exclusion on depressive symptoms: Elderly Chinese living along in Shanghai, China. Journal of Cross-Cultural Gerontology, 26(4), 349-364. DOI 10.1007/s10823-011-9150-1.
  • Lai, D.W.L., & Thomson, C. (2011). The impact of perceived adequacy of social support on caregiving burden of family caregivers. Families in Societies, 92(1), 1-8.
  • Lai, D. W. L., & Guo, A. (2011). Gender differences in depressive symptoms of aging Chinese in urban Jiangsu in China. Clinical Gerontologists, 34(3), 190-206.
  • Lai, D.W.L. (2011). Perceived impact of economic downturn on worry experienced by elderly Chinese immigrants in Canada. Journal of Family and Economic Issues, 32(3), 521-531.
  • Lai, D.W.L. (2011). Abuse and neglect experienced by aging Chinese in Canada. Journal of Elder Abuse and Neglect, 23(4), 326-347.
  • Guo, A.M., & Lai, D.W.L. (2011). A comparative study on depressive symptoms of urban and rural elderly population in China. Journal of Shandong Normal University, 56(1), 106-110.
  • Chau, S.B.Y., & Lai, D.W.L. (2011). The size of an ethno-cultural community as a social determinant of health for Chinese seniors. Journal of Immigrant and Minority Health, 13(6), 1090-1098.
  • Tong, H. M. & Lai, D. W. L. (2010). Jia Na Da Ying Xiang Lao Nian Jian Kang De She Hui Yin Su [Social determinants of health]. China Social Work, 12, 54-55.
  • Surood, S. & Lai, D.W.L. (2010). Impact of culture on use of western health services by older South Asian Canadians. Canadian Journal of Public Health, 101(2), 176-80.
  • Lai, D.W.L., Tong, H.M., Zeng, Q., & Xu, W.Y. (2010). The factor structure of a Chinese Geriatric Depression Scale-SF: Use with alone elderly Chinese in Shanghai, China. International Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry,25(5), 503-510.
  • Lai, D.W.L., & Surood, S. (2010). Types and factor structure of barriers to utilization of health services among aging South Asians in Calgary, Canada. Canadian Journal on Aging, 29(2), 249-258.
  • Lai, D.W.L. (2010). Filial piety, caregiving appraisal, and caregiving burden, Research on Aging, 32, 200-223.
  • Lai, D.W.L. (2008). Impact of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) on depressive symptoms of older Chinese in Hong Kong. Hallym International Journal of Aging, 10(2), 77-84.


Selected Research Reports:

  • Lai, D.W.L. (2014, September). Unspoken skills and tactics: Essentials for immigrant professionals in integration to workplace culture. A research report for the Royal Bank of Canada Investing in New Canadians Research Grant.
  • Lai, D.W.L. (2014, June). Roles and challenges of immigrant and ethno-specific organizations in the health system. Calgary, Alberta: Mount Royal University Institute for Non-Profit Studies
  • Lai, D.W.L. (2014, March). Social integration of immigrant and visible minority older adults in Canada. A report of a commission research study submitted to Citizenship and Immigration Canada.
  • Lai, D.W.L. (2012). Perspectives of the business sector on social enterprise. Calgary, Alberta: University of Calgary Faculty of Social Work.
  • Lai, D.W.L. (2012). Perspectives of the business sector on social enterprise: Executive summary. Calgary, Alberta: University of Calgary Faculty of Social Work.
  • Lai, D.W.L. (2012). Health status and social determinants of health of immigrant seniors in Canada. A paper in CERIS–The Ontario Metropolis Centre Working Paper Series. CERIS Working Papers 88-90.