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Pia Kontos, PhD

Senior Scientist, Toronto Rehabilitation Institute, University Health Network 
Adjunct Scientist, Baycrest Health Sciences
Associate Professor, Dalla Lana School of Public Health, University of Toronto

Toronto Rehabilitation Institute
550 University Avenue
Toronto, ON M5G 2A2
Phone: 416-597-3422 x7609



Pia Kontos’ research program represents a convergence of several key interests or themes: critical interrogation of norms and assumptions underpinning care and relational practices in long-term care and rehabilitation settings; a philosophy and approach to person-centred and relational care that emphasizes embodied selfhood (the importance of the body – its movements and gestures – for self-expression); and the arts for triggering personal and organizational change. The aim of her research is to challenge dominant assumptions, foster critical reflection, and envision new possibilities for supporting, caring, and relating. Pia’s work is interdisciplinary drawing upon philosophy, sociological studies of health, critical social theories, and the arts. Her qualitative research experience includes the use of research-based theatre, improvisational drama, and film, and participant observation, visual and interview methods.

Pia obtained her PhD in Public Health Sciences at the University of Toronto in 2003. She is a Senior Scientist at Toronto Rehabilitation Institute-University Health Network, and an Associate Professor at the Dalla Lana School of Public Health, University of Toronto, where she teaches Theory and Method for Qualitative Researchers: An Introduction (JRP 1000). She is cross appointed to the Rehabilitation Sciences Institute and the Institute of Medical Science, and serves as an Advisory Board member of the International Journal of the Creative Arts in Interdisciplinary Practice and Dementia: The International Journal of Social Research and Practice.

Research Interests

Pia's research interests include: sociology of health; critical social science; embodiment theory; selfhood; dementia; qualitative methods; and arts for social justice.

CQ Teaching

Pia's course, "Theory and Method for Qualitative Researchers: An Introduction" (JRP1000), is offered at CQ.

“Pia Kontos is a very good teacher: incorporating her own experience to help students develop a better understanding of the material. Her caring, empathetic nature shows in her work, yet demonstrates rigour in her research and academic work.” – Student Evaluation, Winter 2009

“Pia was a fantastic instructor – probably the most committed instructor I’ve had in grad school. She has gone out of her way on several occasions to make sure I was understanding important concepts. I really appreciated her openness about her research experiences.” – Student Evaluation, Summer 2012

Sample Publications

Kontos, P., Miller, K-L., Kontos, A. (2017). Relational citizenship: Supporting embodied selfhood and relationality in dementia care. Sociology of Health and Illness (Special Issue: Ageing, Dementia and the Social Mind). DOI:  10.1111/1467-9566.12453.

Kontos, P., Grigorovich, A., Kontos, A., Miller, K.L. (2016). Citizenship, human rights, and dementia: Towards a new embodied relational ethic of sexuality. Dementia: The International Journal of Social Research and Practice (Special Issue on Citizenship), 15(3): 315-329.
Kontos, P., Miller, K.L., Mitchell, G., Stirling-Twist, J. (2015). Presence redefined: The reciprocal nature of engagement between elder-clowns and persons with dementia. Dementia: The International Journal of Social Research and Practice. DOI: 10.1177/1471301215580895.
Kontos, P., Miller, K.L., Colantonio, A., Cott, C. (2014). Grief, anger, and relationality: The impact of a research based theatre intervention on emotion work practices in brain injury rehabilitation. Evaluation Review, 38(1): 29-67.
Kontos, P., Martin, W. (2013). Embodiment and dementia: Exploring critical narratives of selfhood, surveillance, and dementia care. Dementia: The International Journal of Social Research and Practice, 2(3): 288-302.
Kontos, P., Miller, K.L., Gilbert, J.E., Mitchell, G.J., Colantonio, A., Keightley, M.L., Cott, C. (2012). Improving client-centered brain injury rehabilitation through research-based theater. Qualitative Health Research, 22(12): 1612-1632.
Kontos, P. (2012). Alzheimer expressions or expressions despite Alzheimer's?: Philosophical reflections on selfhood and embodiment. Occasion: Interdisciplinary Studies in the Humanities, 4 (May 31). Retrieved from
Kontos, P. (2011). Rethinking sociability in long-term care: An embodied dimension of selfhood. Dementia: An International Journal of Social Research and Practice, 11(3):324-346.
Kontos, P., Miller, K.L., Mitchell, G.J., Cott, C. (2010). Dementia care at the intersection of regulation and reflexivity: A critical realist perspective. The Journals of Gerontology Series B: Psychological Sciences and Social Sciences, 66B(1): 119-128.
Kontos, P., Miller, K.L., Mitchell, G.J. (2010). Neglecting the importance of the decision-making and care regimes of personal support workers: A critique of standardization of care planning through the RAI/MDS. The Gerontologist, 50(3): 352-362.
Kontos, P., Naglie, G. (2009). Tacit knowledge of caring and embodied selfhood. Sociology of Health and Illness, 31(5):688-704.
Kontos, P., Poland, B. (2009). Mapping new theoretical and methodological terrain for knowledge translation: Contributions from critical realism and the arts. Implementation Science, 4(1). Retrieved from