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Pia Kontos, PhD

Senior Scientist, Toronto Rehabilitation Institute-University Health Network
Associate Professor, Dalla Lana School of Public Health, University of Toronto
Adjunct Scientist, Baycrest Health Sciences, Rotman Research Institute
University Health Network
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: 1) the use of critical social theory and qualitative research methods (participant observation, interviews, focus groups) to examine the norms and assumptions underpinning care practices in long-term care; 2) the development of a relational model of citizenship which integrates insights from the fields of embodiment and dementia, citizenship, and human rights to address issues of social justice and state responsibility regarding the recognition and entitlements of individuals living with dementia; and 3) the development, implementation, and evaluation of arts-based approaches (e.g. research-based theatre, film) to bridging her research on relationality, embodiment, and selfhood, with the practice and ethics of dementia care.
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

  • Critical social theory applied to health, illness, and disability
  • Embodiment theory
  • Ethics
  • Dementia and dementia care
  • Qualitative and arts-based methodologies and practice

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.P. Relational citizenship: Supporting embodied selfhood and relationality in dementia care. Sociology of Health and Illness (Special Issue: Ageing, Dementia and the Social Mind) 2017; 39(2): 182-198.
Kontos, P., Miller, K.L., Mitchell, G., Stirling-Twist, J. Presence redefined: The reciprocal nature of engagement between elder-clowns and persons with dementia. Dementia: The International Journal of Social Research and Practice. 2017; 16(1):46-66.
Kontos, P., Grigorovich, A., Kontos, A.P., Miller, K.L. Citizenship, human rights, and dementia: Towards a new embodied relational ethic of sexuality. Dementia: The International Journal of Social Research and Practice (Special Issue: Citizenship and Dementia). 2016; 15(3); 315-329.
Kontos, P., Miller, K.L., Colantonio, A., Cott, C. Grief, anger, and relationality: The impact of a research based theatre intervention on emotion work practices in brain injury rehabilitation. Evaluation Review. 2014; 38(1):29-67
Kontos, P., Martin, W. Embodiment and dementia: Exploring critical narratives of selfhood, surveillance, and dementia care. Dementia: The International Journal of Social Research and Practice (Special Issue: Embodiment and Dementia). 2013; 12(3):288-302
Kontos, P. Alzheimer expressions or expressions despite Alzheimer’s?: Philosophical reflections on selfhood and embodiment. Occasion: Interdisciplinary Studies in the Humanities 2012; 4(May 31). Retrieved from