Wayne State University

Aim Higher

Heather Fritz

Photo for Heather Fritz
Assistant Professor of Occupational Therapy & Gerontology
Office Location
87 East Ferry Street. Rm 233.
Office Phone
Bio Sketch


Heather Fritz Ph.D., OTR/L is an Assistant Professor in the Occupational Therapy Program and the Institute of Gerontology. Heather received her MS in Occupational Therapy from Winston Salem State University and her PhD in Occupational Science from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She completed a postdoctoral fellowship at the Wayne State University Institute of Gerontology before joining the Occupational Therapy Program.

Dr. Fritz's research focuses on health promotion and prevention in middle adulthood and later life. She is especially interested in the role of habits and habit modification in health behavior change, translating the principles of habit development into behavioral interventions, and combining traditional rehabilitative approaches with behavioral science. Her work is informed by a transactional theoretical perspective with a focus socio-cultural environments and engagement in daily occupations. Her work incorporates both qualitative and quantitative methods and she has a commitment to translating scholarship to practice.

Research Focus

Chronic condition prevention and management (theory, intervention research)

Occupational science (theory, habits, environments and health)

Aging (neighborhood environments and health, clinical practice)

Areas of Expertise

Chronic conditions

Health promotion and prevention

Qualitative methods


Courses Taught

 OT 3000 Foundations of Occupational Therapy and Occupational Science


Postdoctoral fellowship, Wayne State University Institute of Gerontology, 2013-2015

Ph.D. in Occupational Science, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 2013

M.S. in Occupational Therapy, Winston Salem State University, 2007


1.    Boon Peng, N., Jensen, G., & Fritz, H., (in press). Effects of Medicare coverage of a “Welcome to Medicare” visit on use of preventative services among new Medicare Enrolees. Journal of Aging Research.


2.     Zilioli, S., Cutchin, M. P., Fritz, H., Booza, J., & Slatcher, R. (in press). Brief Report: A pilot study of neighborhood adversity and hair cortisol among older urban African Americans. Psychneuroendocrinology. doi.org/10.1016/j.psyneuen.2017.02.026


3.    Fritz, H., & Cutchin, M. P. (2017). Changing neighborhoods and occupations: Experiences of older African-Americans in Detroit. Journal of Occupational Science. doi:10.1080/14427591.2016.1269296


4.     Fritz, H., Tarraf, W., & Saleh, D., Cutchin, M. P. (2017). Using a smartphone-based ecological momentary assessment protocol with community dwelling older African-Americans. Journals of Gerontology, Series B: Psychological Sciences and Social Sciences. doi: 10.1093/geronb/gbw166.


5.     DiZazzo-Miller, R., Pociask, F., Bertran, E., Fritz, H., Arnetz, J., Tarakji, S., Lysack, C., & Jaber, L. (2016). Diabetes is devastating and insulin is a death sentence: Provider perspectives of diabetes self-management in Arab American patients. Clinical Diabetes. doi:10.2337/cd15-0030


6.    Fritz, H., DiZazzo-Miller, R., Bertran, E., Pociask, F., Tarakji, S., Arnetz, J., Lysack, C., & Jaber, L. (2016). Diabetes self-management among Arab Americans: Patient and provider perspectives. BMC International Health and Human Rights. doi:10.1186/s12914-016-0097-8


7.     Fritz, H., & Cutchin, M. P. (2016). Integrating the science of habit: Opportunities for occupational therapy. OTJR: Occupation, Participation and Health. 10.1177/1539449216643307


8.    Bertran, E., Fritz, H., Abbas, M., Arnetz, J., Lysack, C., Pociask, F., DiZazzo-Miller, R., Tarakji, S., & Jaber, L. (2015). The Impact of Arab American Culture on Diabetes Self-Management Education. The Diabetes Educator, Advance online publication. doi:10.1177/0145721715607356


9.    Murphy, S., Lyden, A., Fritz, H., Kratz, A., Williams, D., Clauw, D., Gammaitoni, A., & Phillips, K. (2015). The nature of pain flares in a sample of patients with symptomatic knee osteoarthritis. Arthritis Research and Care, 67(8), 1103-1111. doi: 10.1002/acr.22545


10. Fritz, H., Dillaway, H., & Lysack, C. (2015). “Don’t think paralysis takes away your womanhood”: Sexual intimacy after SCI. The American Journal of Occupational Therapy, 69(2), 1-10. doi:10.5014/ajot.2015.015040


11. Fritz, H., Lysack, C., Luborsky, M., & Messinger, S. (2014). Long-term community reintegration: Concepts, outcomes, and dilemmas in the case of a military service member with a spinal cord injury. Disability and Rehabilitation, 37(16),1501-1507. doi: 10.3109/09638288.2014.967415


12. Fritz, H. (2014). Challenges to developing diabetes self-management skills in a low income sample in North Carolina, U.S. A. Health and Social Care in the Community. Advance online publication. doi: 10.1111/hsc.12172.


13. Fritz, H. (2014). Learning to do better: The transactional model of diabetes self-management integration. Qualitative Health Research, 25(7), 875-886. doi: 10.1177/1049732314552453


14. Fritz, H., & Lysack, C. (2014). “I see it now”: Using photo elicitation to understand chronic illness self-management. Canadian Journal of Occupational Therapy, 81(4), 247-255. doi:10.1177/0008417414540517


15. Fritz, H. (2014). The influence of routines on engagement in diabetes self-management. Scandinavian Journal of Occupational Therapy, 21(3), 232-240. doi: 10.1177/0008417414540517


16. Fritz, H. (2012). Insights into the function of habit in the occupation of improvisational theater. Journal of Occupational Science, 21(2), 161-172. doi: 10.1080/14427591.2012.724352