Dr. Helena Piccinini

Associate professor, interim research director, Department of Family Medicine, research lead, IWK

DFM_Dr Piccinini

Email: helena.piccinini@dal.ca
Phone: (902) 473-4700
Mailing Address: 
Dalhousie Family Medicine
6960 Mumford Road Suite 0265
Halifax NS B3L 4P1


  • BSc, Memorial University of Newfoundland
  • MSc, Dalhousie University
  • PhD (Family Medicine) Western University 
  • MD, Dalhousie University
  • CCFP
  • FCFP

Research Interests

Dr. Piccinini's research interests are about patient-centredness, particularly as it relates to challenging conversations that clinicians have with patients pertaining to issues such as excess weight. Her focus is primarily around patient-centredness in the context of excess gestational weight gain.

Additionally, Dr. Piccinini was awarded the "CIHR Strategic Training Fellow in Interdisciplinary Primary Health Care Research 2014 - 2015.” 

Selected Grants

  1. Nova Scotia Health Research Fund. March 2021. Establishing a Platform for the Systematic Extraction of Primary Care Prenatal Data from Electronic Medical Records: a Retrospective Cohort Study of Gestational Diabetes Mellitus. PI: Piccinini-Vallis H. Co-Is: Andreou P, Bussey L, Coolen J, Grandy M, MacKeen L, Sabri S. ($31,706)
  2. SSHRC Partnership Engagement Grant. January 2021. Understanding internalized weight bias during pregnancy. PI: Nagpal T. Co Is: Piccinini-Vallis H, Adamo K. Collaborators: Vallis M, Gaudet L, Bell R, Davenport M, Nerenberg K, da Silva D, Liu R. $ ($24,572)
  3. Dalhousie Medical Education, Living Laboratory Fund. 2020-2021. Virtual Integrative IP Access (VIIA): Advancing medical and Interprofessional (IP) education through a Virtual Family Medicine (FM), Occupational Therapy and Physiotherapy (OT-PT) Collaboration. PI: Zed J, Co Is: Shaw L, Stringer K, O’Keefe C, Pereira D, Harris J, Smith D, Piccinini-Vallis H, Townsend L. ($5000) 
  4. Dalhousie Medical Education Living Laboratory Fund. 2020-2021. Comparison of Patients’ Perceptions of Family Physicians’ Patient-Centredness between Virtual and In-Person Clinical Encounters. PI; Piccinini-Vallis H; Co-Is: Zed J, Easley J. ($4,200)
  5. PHAC with matching funds. 2021-2024: CIHR Project Grant: SmartMoms Canada: An evaluation of a mobile app intervention to support a healthy pregnancy. PI: Adamo K. Co-Is: Baillargeon J, Nerenberg K, Piccinini-Vallis H, Redman L, Shen G. $439,874
  6. IWK Project Grant. 2018-19.The Relationship Between Pre-Pregnancy Attempts to Lose Weight and Gestational Weight Gain: An Exploratory Primary Care Prospective Cohort Study. PI: Piccinini H; Co-Is: Woolcott C, Snelgrove-Clarke E. ($19,509.95)
  7. NSHA Translating Research Into Care (TRIC) Grant. August 2018 – August 2019. Building a research team: Caring for women who live with obesity during pregnancy, birthing, and postpartum. PI:Snelgrove-Clarke E. Co-applicants: Cashen N, O’Reilly D, Tomblin-Murphy G, West J. Co-investigators: Lezama B, Walsh C, Casey C, Mann C, Woolcott C, McKeen D, CarsonG, Scott H, Piccinini-Vallis H, McLeod L, George R, Scott S, Bleasedale E, Fiander E, Paynter M, Bernard M, Sims M, LeDrew M, Kolanko M, Mills S. ($3,000)

Selected Publications

  1. Piccinini-Vallis H, Adamo K, Bell R, Pereira L, Nerenberg K. Canadian Adult Obesity Clinical Practice Guidelines: Weight Management Over the Reproductive Years for Adult Women Living with Obesity. Available from: https://obesitycanada.ca/guidelines/reproductive.
  2. Camptell-Scherer D, Walji S, Kempt A, Piccinini-Vallis H, Vallis TM. Canadian Adult Obesity Clinical Practice Guidelines: Primary Care and Primary Healthcare in Obesity Management. Available from: https://obesitycanada.ca/guidelines/primarycare
  3. Nagpal TS, Ramos Salas X, Vallis M, Piccinini-Vallis H, Adamo KB, Alberga AS, Bell RC, da Silva DF, Davenport MH, Gaudet L, Incollingo Rodriguez AC, Liu RH, Myre M, Nerenberg K, Nutter S, Russell-Mayhew S, Souza SC, Vilhan C. Coming soon: An internalized weight bias assessment scale for use during pregnancy. Obesity. Manuscript ID 21-0146-Comm. In press.
  4. Stewart M, Fortin M, Brown JB, Ryan BL, Pariser P, Charles J, Pham T-N,  Boeckxstaens P, Reichert S, Zou GY, Bhattacharya O, Katz A, Piccinini-Vallis H, Sampali T, Wong S, Zwarenstein  M. Patient-Centred Innovation for Multimorbidity Care: Mixed-methods, Randomized Trial and Qualitative Evaluation. British Journal of General Practice. In press.
  5. Piccinini-Vallis H, Woolcott C, Miller L, Snelgrove-Clarke E, Cahill S. The relationship between pre-pregnancy attempts to lose weight and gestational weight gain: an exploratory primary care prospective cohort study. JOGC. 2021 Mar;43(3):337-343.e1.doi: 10.1016/j.jogc.2020.09.023.Epub 2020 Oct 29.
  6. Wharton S, Lau DCW, Vallis M, Sharma AM, Biertho L, Campbell-Scherer D, Adamo K, Alberga A, Bell R, Boulé N, Boyling E, Brown J, Calam B, Clarke C, Crowshoe L, Divalentino D, Forhan M, Freedhoff Y, Gagner M, Glazer S, Grand C, Green M, Hahn M, Hawa R, Henderson R, Hong D, Hung P, Janssen I, Jacklin K, Johnson-Stoklossa C, Kemp A, Kirk S, Kuk J, Langlois MF, Lear S, McInnes A, Macklin D, Naji L, Manjoo P, Morin MP, Nerenberg K, Patton I, Pedersen S, Pereira L, Piccinini-Vallis H, Poddar M, Poirier P, Prud'homme D, Salas XR, Rueda-Clausen C, Russell-Mayhew S, Shiau J, Sherifali D, Sievenpiper J, Sockalingam S, Taylor V, Toth E, Twells L, Tytus R, Walji S, Walker L, Wicklum S.. Obesity in adults: a clinical practice guideline. CMAJ August 04, 2020 192 (31) E875-E891; DOI: https://doi.org/10.1503/cmaj.191707
  7. Silva DF, Coutinho SS, Piccinini-Vallis H, Queiroga MR. Educação física na atenção primária à saúde: relato de ações interativas em disciplina de graduação. Revista Brasileira de Atividade Física & Saúde. In press.
  8. Piccinini-Vallis H, Vallis M. Curbing excess gestational weight gain in primary care: using a point of care tool based on behaviour change theory. International Journal of Women’s Health. 2018;10:609-615.
  9. Abidi S, Vallis M, Piccinini-Vallis H, Imran S. Ali,Abidi SSR. Diabetes-Related Behavior Change Knowledge Transfer to Primary Care Practitioners and Patients:Implementation and Evaluation of a Digital Health Platform. JMIR Med Inform. 2018;vol6;e25
  10. Samina Abidi, Michael Vallis, Helena Piccinini-Vallis, Syed Ali Imran, Syed Sibte Raza Abidi. Diabetes-Related Behavior Change Knowledge Transfer to Primary Care Practitioners and Patients: Implementation and Evaluation of a Digital Health Platform. JMIR Med Inform. 2018;vol6;e25.
  11. Morris J, Nikolopoulos H, Berry T, Jain V, Vallis M, Piccinini-Vallis H, Bell RC. Health care providers’ gestational weight gain counselling practices and the influence of knowledge and attitudes:  A cross-sectional mixed methods study. BMJ Open 2017;7:e018527. doi:10.1136/bmjopen-2017-018527.
  12. Piccinini-Vallis H. Clinician Self-Efficacy Pertaining to Initiating Discussions About Gestational Weight Gain. Canadian Family Physician. Canadian Family Physician. 2017;63(7):e341-e349.
  13. Stewart, M., and M. Fortin for the PACE in MM team (Piccinini-Vallis, H., team member and co-author) "Patient-Centred Innovations for Persons with Multimorbidity: funded evaluation protocol." CMAJ open 5.2 (2017): E365-E372.
  14. Abidi S, Vallis M, Piccinini-Vallis H, Imran SA, Abidi SSR. A Digital Framework to Support Providers and Patients in Diabetes Related Behavior Modification. Stud Health Technol Inform. 2017;235:589-593.
  15. Rand, K, Vallis M, Aston M, Price S, Piccinini-Vallis H, Rehman L, Kirk SFL. It is Not the Diet; it is the Mental Part We Need Help with. A Multilevel Analysis of Psychological, Emotional, and Social Well-being in Obesity. International Journal of Qualitative Studies in Health & Well-being. 2017;12(1) 1306421, DOI: 10.1080/17482631.2017.1306421.
  16. Piccinini-Vallis H, Lee-Baggley D, Stewart M, Ryan BL. Gestational weight gain trajectories in Nova Scotia primary care. Canadian Family Physician 2016;62:e407-14.
  17. Woolcott C, Dodds L, Ashley-Martin J, Piccinini-Vallis H. Distribution of pregnancy-related weight measures in Nova Scotia, 2003-2013. Canadian Family Physician. 2016;62:e400-6.

Selected Presentations

  1. Weight management over the reproductive years for adult women living with obesity. Obesity Canada Webinar. March 23, 2021. Invited presentation
  2. Weight change before pregnancy and prenatal outcomes - what do we know? Canadian Obesity Summit 2021. Invited presentation.
  3. Current Evidence for the Management of Gestational Weight Gain for Women with Obesity. Piccinini-Vallis H. 6th Canadian Obesity Summit April 23-26, 2019 Ottawa, Ontario. Invited presentation.
  4. How Our “Words” Affect Our Patients. Piccinini-Vallis H. SOGC Annual Clinical and Scientific Conference June 11-14, 2019 Halifax Convention Centre, Halifax, Nova Scotia. Invited presentation.
  5. The Association Between Women’s Gestational Weight Gain Concordance With Guidelines And Their Children’s Body Mass Index Trajectories. Dr. Ian McWhinney Lecture Series. Centre for Studies in Family Medicine, Western University, London, Ontario, 2018. Invited presentation.