Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Social Work (MSW)


Social Work


Lyle S. Hallman Faculty of Social Work

First Advisor

Anne Westhues

Advisor Role

Thesis Supervisor


The main objective of this research was to determine if Canadians with alopecia areata and their families perceive there is a need for the creation of an organization providing support and services to them in Canada. Previous research has documented the psychological devastation resulting from hair loss in children and adults of both sexes. Alopecia areata is present in approximately 1-2% of the Canadian population (Canadian Dermatology Association, 2002) yet this disorder remains relatively unknown and misunderstood by the medical community and the general population. Services for Canadians with alopecia areata are limited to interactions with family physicians, dermatologists and international resources. Collectivity is integral to the empowerment process (Saleeby, 2002). The value systems, principles, and practices of feminist organizing and the self-help movement are presented as viable models for organizing a Canadian community of individuals with alopecia areata. An exploratory research project was designed to assess the needs of Canadians coping either directly or indirectly with alopecia areata. A total of 134 Canadians completed a self-administered web-based questionnaire which yielded both quantitative and qualitative data. The results indicated that 93.8% of respondents feel there is a strong need for the creation of a Canadian alopecia areata association. The concepts of isolation, being bald and "invisible," and breaking the silence emerged from the qualitative analysis. It was clear that Canadians with alopecia areata experience both emotional and physical isolation as they struggle to find the most basic of services. Respondents exercised their voice and broke the silence by sharing their experiences, thoughts, ideas, and hopes for alopecia areata in Canada. It is apparent that the needs of this sample of Canadians coping with alopecia areata are not being met.

Convocation Year


Convocation Season


Included in

Social Work Commons