Lawrence S. Bloomberg Faculty of Nursing

Elizabeth Peter, RN, PhD


“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. Theoretically, she locates her work in feminist health care ethics which aligns her scholarly pursuits both substantively and methodologically. She has pursued two interrelated areas of scholarship, one that is related to innovations in theory and methodology and one that is substantive in focus, i.e., home/ community care ethics.

Her theoretical and methodological work is advancing the concepts of moral identity, moral agency, vulnerability, moral competency, and moral distress. She has also used metaethics to develop a critical narrative approach for qualitative research in healthcare ethics.

Her substantive interest focuses primarily on community and home care ethics. She is a Principal Investigator on a CIHR funded study to examine the patient, family and clinician experience from an ethical, legal, and social perspective as care transitions from hospital to home using new monitoring technology. (The SMART VIEW, Covered: Technology Enabled remote monitoring and Self-Management – Vision for patient Empowerment following Cardiac and Vascular surgery)

She serves on the editorial board of Nursing Ethics and Nursing Inquiry.

She is the recipient of a U of T Nursing Teaching Award for Excellence in Educational Leadership and the Christine Harrison Education Award for Integration of Theory & Practice. 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 the lead faculty member on the Nurse Faculty Leadership Academy (NFLA).

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.
    Dr. Peter’s Google Scholar link is available here.

PhD Students / Trainees

Natalie Beavis

Relationships and Responsibilities: Nurse Practitioners’ Understanding of their Potential as Ethics Leaders in Neonatal and Pediatric End of Life Care

Advances in neonatal and pediatric care have increased the survival rates of many infants and children who in previous decades would not have survived. Neonatal and pediatric intensive care settings present unique opportunities for nurses to facilitate positive end-of-life experiences for these children and their families.  However, the quality of end of life care for these patients is lacking in these environments.  Natalie plans to explore the role of pediatric nurse practitioners as practice leaders in the realm of ethics given the ability NPs have to shed light on nursing knowledge, contexts and understandings. The work of Margaret Urban Walker will be used as a theoretical framework and key concepts such as moral understandings, practices of responsibility and moral identities will be used to explore nurse practitioners’ thoughts on their ability to take up ethical leadership in neonatal and pediatric end of life care.

Somayeh Faghanipour

A Critical Narrative Inquiry of Self-care Practices for Senior Iranian Immigrants with Diabetes Mellitus (DM): Implications for Identity and Social Justice

Self-care has become a central theme in health care policies and practices in the past few decades. Individuals’ inability to meet the required expectation of self-care, not only has consequences for their health, but also may be considered as a personal failure damaging their identities. Using a critical feminist framework, Somayeh is looking at how senior Iranian immigrants with DM perceive themselves in the context of self-care demands. She will use a narrative methodology to explore how are the identities of senior, Iranian immigrants with DM negotiated and how patients make sense of themselves and their experienced world through storytelling.

Priscilla Boakye

Poor Working Conditions and the Capacity to Care: Exploring Moral Distress among Nurses and Midwives in Ghana

Quality maternal health care is highly dependent on adequate resources and a well-motivated midwifery workforce. Nurses and midwives in Lower and Middle Income Countries are faced with challenges on daily basis as they strive to provide care for labouring women in a limited resource environment. The challenges not only have implications on the quality of care experience by labouring women, they also impact on the moral lives of nurses and midwives. Priscilla intends to conduct a critical ethnography to explore how moral distress is experienced by nurses and midwives in labour and delivery wards in Ghana and how it impacts on the quality of care using a critical feminist perspective.

Irene Boldt

The Well-Being of Community-Residing NCRMD Clients: Recognizing Ethical Dimensions.

Using Powers and Faden's (2006) theory of social justice, Irene's research will explore the ethical dimensions of the well-being of individuals who have been found not criminally responsible on account of a mental disorder (NCRMD) and are living in the community in Ontario. Relevant scholarly literature suggests that these individuals live in housing with inadequate supportive services, have high rates of unemployment, and are socio-economically disadvantaged; however, these clients’ well-being experiences have not yet been investigated using a critical qualitative approach. As such, the results of this research will seek to reveal social justice issues related to health and well-being of NCRMD clients that are the consequence of entrenched inequalities in the distribution of the social determinants of health.

Tieghan Killackey

Advance Care Planning for Patients with Heart Failure: An Exploration of Personal Autonomy and the Importance of Self-Trust

Tieghan Killackey’s doctoral work uses critical social theory to explore how patients with heart failure experience autonomy when participating in advance care planning (ACP). By exploring this phenomenon through the framework of relational ethics, Tieghan will highlight the social and political factors that influence patients’ ability to exercise personal autonomy while living with a chronic illness. By focusing on patients’ and families’ understandings of autonomy and the process of ACP, her qualitative study seeks to reveal some of the fundamental root causes that account for low ACP participation rates demonstrated by patients with advanced HF. Overall her study will identify novel targets for future ACP intervention and will contribute to the development of autonomy-enhancing policy, practice and educational initiatives related to advance care planning.


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