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Joan M. Eakin, PhD

Professor Emerita, Dalla Lana School of Public Health
Founding Director, Centre for Critical Qualitative Health Research

University of Toronto Health Sciences Building, Rm 551, 155 College St.
Toronto, ON, Canada M5T 3M7


Joan's ResearchGate profile is available to view here.

Her profile and contributions to the Research Action Alliance on the Consequences of Work Injury is available here.

Other Appointments

Adjunct Scientist, Institute for Work & Health, Toronto, Ontario.


Joan Eakin is a sociologist by discipline (PhD. McGill, 1980) and was a faculty member at McGill and the University of Calgary before coming to Toronto in 1987. Her research focuses mostly on the social dimensions of work and health, including the socio-political contingencies of prevention, work injury and disease, compensation and disability, and the occupational health and safety system. She has engaged a variety of approaches over the years, including participatory observation, video recording, interviewing, documentary analysis, secondary data analysis, and academic-community research collaboration. Analytically, she grafts a ‘structural-interactionist’ perspective on to elements of grounded theorizing, seeking to characterize and explain individual-level behaviour and experience in terms of the social relations, structures and processes in which they are embedded. She is currently also involved in understanding and practicing the application of critical qualitative research knowledge to social change, including political theatre. She teaches qualitative research methodology at the graduate level, emphasizing the core relevance of social theory, reflexivity, and imagination to the conduct and application of qualitative research.

CQ Teaching

In the past, Joan Eakin has taught courses in Social Theory and Health, Health Care Systems, the Social Psychology of Health, Medical Sociology, Perspectives on Occupational Health and Safety.

Most recently, Joan has taught two courses in CQ’s Essentials of Qualitative Research series: CHL 5115 ("Qualitative Analysis and Interpretation") and CHL 5122 ("Advanced Qualitative Research: Framing, Writing & Beyond").

“Joan Eakin is one of the best teachers I have ever had.” – CHL5115 Student Evaluation, Fall 2011

“Joan is pure brilliance. I’m so much more engaged with my project because of her infectious enthusiasm for good research.” – CHL5115 Student Evaluation, Fall 2012

Sample Publications

Eakin, J., MacEachen, E., Clarke, J., and Mansfield, E. The Logic of Practice: An Ethnographic Study of Front-line Service Work with Small Businesses in Ontario’s Workplace Safety and Insurance Board. Final Report to the Research Advisory Council, Workplace Safety and Insurance Board, Ontario: April 9, 2009. Also published as Working Paper # 346, Institute for Work & Health [].

Eakin, J. and Endicott, M. “Knowledge translation through research-based theatre/L’Application des connaissances par le théâtre fondé sur la recherche”, Healthcare Policy, 2006, 2 (2) 51-55.

Eakin, J. & Mykhalovskiy, Eric (2005, April). Teaching Against the Grain: A Workshop on Teaching Qualitative Research in the Health Sciences. Conference Report: A National Workshop on Teaching Qualitative Research in the Health Sciences [43 paragraphs]. Forum Qualitative Sozialforschung / Forum: Qualitative Social Research [On-line Journal], 6(2), Art. 42. Available at:

Eakin, J. “The discourse of abuse in return-to-work: A hidden epidemic of suffering”, Chapter 9, in Peterson, C. and Mayhew, C. (Eds.), Occupational Health and Safety: International Influences and the new Epidemics Baywood Publishing, 2005, pp. 159-174.

Eakin, J. and Mykhalovskiy, E. “Reframing the evaluation of qualitative health research: Reflections on a review of appraisal guidelines in the health sciences”, Journal of Evaluation of Clinical Practice, 2003, 9 (2) 187-194.

Eakin, J. MacEachen, E. and Clarke, J. “’Playing it smart’ with return to work: Small workplace experience under Ontario’s policy of self-reliance and early return”, Policy and Practice in Health and Safety, 2003, 01 (2) 20-41.

Eakin, J., Cava, M., Smith, T. “From Theory to Practice: A Determinants Approach to Workplace Health Promotion in Small Businesses”, Health Promotion Practice 2001, 2(2) 172-181.

Eakin, J., Lamm, F., Limborg, H. “International perspective on the promotion of health and safety in small workplaces”, in Frick, K., Jensen, P-L., Quinlan, M., Wilthagen, T. Systematic Occupational Health and Safety Management: Perspectives on an International Development, Elsevier Science, Oxford UK, 2000: 227-247.

Eakin, J. and MacEachen, E. “Health and the social relations of work: a study of the health-related experiences of employees in small workplaces”, Sociology of Health and Illness, 1998 20(6): 896-914.

Eakin, J. “Work-Related Determinants of Health Behavior”, in D. Gochman (Ed.), Handbook of Health Behavior Research I: Personal and Social Determinants, Plenum Press, N.Y., 1997, pp 337-357.

Eakin, J., Robertson, A., Poland, B., Coburn, D., Edwards, R. “Toward a critical social science perspective on health promotion research,” Health Promotion International, 1996, 11 (2), 157-165.

Tarasuk, V. and Eakin, J. “The problem of legitimacy in the experience of work-related back injury”, Qualitative Health Research, 1995, 5 (2): 204-221.

Eakin, J. “Leaving it up to the workers: sociological perspective on the management of health and safety in small workplaces”, International Journal of Health Services, 1992, 22:689-704.

Eakin, J. “Hospital power structure and the democratization of hospital administration in Quebec”, Social Science and Medicine, 1984, 18: 221-228.

Eakin-Hoffmann, J. “ ‘Nothing Can Be Done’: social dimensions of the treatment of stroke patients in a general hospital”, Urban Life and Culture, 1974, 3: 50-70.