Lawrence S. Bloomberg Faculty of Nursing

Elizabeth Peter, RN, PhD

Associate Professor

“My research focuses on examining the political dimensions of nurses’ ethical concerns and understandings.”

Dr. Elizabeth Peter’s scholarship reflects her interdisciplinary background in nursing, philosophy and bioethics. She focuses her work on ethical concerns in community nursing, with a special emphasis on home care. Theoretically, she locates her work in feminist health care ethics and explores the epistemology of nurses’ moral knowledge using the work of Margaret Urban Walker. She serves on the editorial board of the Journal of Bioethical Inquiry, Nursing Ethics and Nursing Inquiry.

The recipient of a U of T Nursing Teaching Award for Excellence in Educational Leadership, Dr. Peter has taught nursing ethics courses at U of T Nursing.

Dr. Peter is the Chair of the Health Sciences Research Ethics Board. In addition, she is an expert faculty member on the Nurse Faculty Mentored Leadership Program of Sigma Theta Tau International  and a member of the Joint Centre for Bioethics at U of T.

  • Academic Credentials
    1998 – PhD, University of Toronto
    1992 – BA, York University, Toronto
    1991 – MScN, University of Toronto
    1986 – BScN, University of Windsor, Ontario
  • Publications
    Dr. Peter’s PubMed link is available here.

PhD Students / Trainees

Natalie Beavis

Natalie Beavis will be researching the experience of moral distress among paediatric nurse practitioners in acute care settings.

Shan Mohammed

A Foucauldian Examination of Patient Subjectivity: A Case Study of Patients with Advanced Cancer Receiving Further Medical Treatment

Using a post-structural framework, Shan Mohammed’s work explores how the choice for disease-modifying treatment in advanced disease constitutes the subjectivities of patients. He examines multiple discourses that surround treatment choices such as disease self-management, patient responsibilities and consumerist approaches to health care. He employs a qualitative case study approach is his research, which involves interviews, field observations and document analysis.

Anne Moulton

The Ethics in Advocacy: Understanding the Nurses’ Role with End-of-Life (EOL) Care Discussions with Patients Diagnosed with End-Stage Renal Disease (ESRD)

Advance care planning discussions for EOL care with patients diagnosed with ESRD are not consistently performed despite evidence that patients want to share their wishes for a good death with their health care providers. Patient advocacy is ethically grounded, and as the patient advocates, nurses have a professional and ethical obligation to advocate for their patients. Using a qualitative design, Anne Moulton will explore the reasons for nurses’ reluctance in speaking with patients about their EOL care wishes to better understand the role of advocacy as it relates to nursing and EOL care discussions with patients. Using a critical social theory perspective as a framework, she will illuminate the relationships and underlying ethical dilemma of nurses’ reluctance to speak with patients about EOL care wishes and their perspective on patient advocacy.

Debra Rolfe

Exploring the Moral Habitability of Women’s Life Worlds Following a Prenatal Diagnosis Choice

Prenatal screening and testing are standard practices in prenatal care in Ontario and are framed as an offer to women for greater “choice” and autonomy over their reproductive lives and the constellation of their families. If a woman has a positive diagnosis of fetal chromosomal anomaly or structural abnormality, she and her partner will be asked if they wish to continue or terminate the pregnancy. Women must then choose between two morally challenging and life-altering options: to continue the pregnancy and respect the life of the unborn, or terminate the pregnancy to avoid undue suffering for the baby and possibly for themselves and their families. The thread that runs through the literature is that whether a woman chooses termination or continuation of pregnancy, the process of diagnosis, choosing and initial aftermath for each involves “suffering.” Using a critical ethnographic methodology and a feminist ethics theoretical perspective, Debra Rolfe will conduct qualitative research to gain insight into how women’s choices to terminate or continue a pregnancy following a prenatal diagnosis affect their life stories through time.


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