Fiona Webster, PhD

Associate Professor

Room 2373, FNB
519 661-2111 x81509
Google Scholar


  • PhD (University of Toronto)
  • MA (University of Toronto)
  • BA (University of Toronto)

Graduate Program Supervision

Research In Profile

Fiona Webster is a critical sociologist and Associate Professor in the Labatt Family School of Nursing at Western University and holds a cross appointment with the Institute of Health Policy Management and Evaluation, University of Toronto, where she is also an Academic Fellow with the Centre for Critical Qualitative Health Research (CQ). She has successfully led many Tri-Council funded, interdisciplinary research teams with a particular focus on applying sociological approaches to understanding and improving care, with a particular focus on chronic pain and marginalization. By turning a sociological eye to the challenges of providing chronic pain care within parameters currently delineated by the Canadian health care system, her aim is to identify structural and ideological components of contemporary health care that might be amenable to change.

Featured Publications and Projects

Articles in Peer-Reviewed Journals

  • Webster, F., Connoy, R., Rice, K., Sud, A., Pinto, A., Upshur R., & Dale, C.(2022). Chronic struggle: the situated experience of marginalization and chronic pain. Journal of Pain, August 2022.
  • Webster, F., et al. (2022). Patient responses to the term pain catastrophizing: Thematic analysis of cross-sectional international data. Journal of Pain, August 2022.
  • Sud, A., Grundy, Q., Buchman, D., Webster, F., & Upshur, R. (2022). Dispensing education: A critical discourse analysis of pharmaceutical industry promotion of Suboxone® during the opioid crisis. Medical Education, BMJ open 12 (7), e059561.
  • Shaw, J., Gagnon, M., Gladstone, B., Carson, A., Gastaldo, D., Webster, F., Eakin J. (2022) Advancing the Impact of Critical Qualitative Research on Policy, Practice, and Science. International Journal of Qualitative Methods,
  • Webster, F., Connoy, L., Sud, A., Pinto, A., & Katz, J. (2020). Grappling with chronic pain and poverty during the COVID-19 pandemic. Canadian Journal of Pain, 4(1), 125-128.
  • Webster, F., Rice, K., & Sud, A. (2020). A critical content analysis of media reporting on opioids: The social construction of an epidemic. Social Science & Medicine, 244, Article 112642.
  • Dale, C., & Webster, F. (2020). Need caring, compassion or comfort? Sorry, I'm a doctor. Canadian Medical Association Journal, 192(25), E687. Webster, F., Rice, K., Bhattacharyya, O., Katz, J., Dale, C., & Upshur, R. (2019). An ethnography of chronic pain management in primary care: The social organization of physicians’ work in the midst of the opioid crisis. PLOS One, 14(5), Article e0215148.

Visit Google Scholar for a comprehensive list of publications.

Current Grants and Research Projects

  • Principal Investigator, Toward democratization of health: a sociological exploration of patient engagement in pain research. SSHRC Partnership grant. 2023-2027, 2.49M.
  • Principal Investigator, COPE II: Chronic pain ethnography, CIHR funded 2020-2023, $238K.
  • Principal Investigator, Chronic pain, poverty, addiction and mental health in a time of pandemic, CIHR funded $160k, 2021-2023.
  • Collaborator, Canadian Pain Network 2.0. PI: Norm Buckley. CIHR funded 2022-2024, $$938k
  • Co-investigator, Choosing the right model of care together: Shared decision making to improve equitable implementation of in-person vs virtual care for youth with chronic pain and their families. PI: Katie Birnie. CIHR Funded 2022-2023, $99k.

Graduate Student Projects

Youth Living with Bipolar Disorder: How they Understand and Experience Spirituality.

  • Solomon, Michelle (2020-present). PhD student, Nursing.

Pain is What the Patient Says it is”: A Secondary Analysis of Nurses’ Reflections on the Term ‘Pain Catastrophizing’.

  • Longo, Riana (2022). MScN, Nursing.

Caring Revisited: A Foucauldian Discourse Analysis on the Association of Caring with the Profession of Nursing

  • Boulton, Margot (2022). MScN, Nursing.

The work of getting better: An institutional ethnography of an early psychosis intervention clinic.

  • Elaine Stasiulis (2022). PhD, Rehabilitation Sciences Institute, University of Toronto.

Analyzing biomedical discourses around infertility

  • Andrea Carson (2014-2019). PhD, University of Toronto, Dalla Lana School of Public Health.

Visit Scholarship@Western for a list of completed student theses and dissertations in the repository.

Additional Information

Academic Appointments and Research Affiliations

  • Editorial Board member, Canadian Journal of Pain
  • Member, Program Committee, North American Primary Care Research Group (NAPCRG)
  • Co-chair, Research Methods Group, NAPCRG


Research Awards

  • 2014–2019 New Investigator Award, Canadian Institute of Health Research (CIHR). An institutional ethnography of chronic OA pain management in family medicine (COPE). 300,000 CAD.
  • 2014 Research Ambassadors Knowledge Translation Award, CIHR Institute of Musculoskeletal Health and Arthritis (IMHA).
  • 2014 Excellence in Research, Department of Family and Community Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, University of Toronto.
  • 2013 Excellence in Research in Professional Development, Department of Family and Community Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, University of Toronto.

Curriculum Development and Teaching Awards

  • 2018 Eugenie Stuart Award for Excellence in Thesis Supervision, Institute for Health Policy Management and Evaluation, University of Toronto.
  • 2013 Helen P. Batty Faculty Development Award - Innovation in Program Development and Design, Centre for Faculty Development, Faculty of Medicine, Toronto, Ontario. (Wilson Centre Qualitative Research Atelier). Group award.

Presentation or Publication Awards
Best Scientific Paper

  • Canadian Society of Plastic Surgeons, Best Scientific Paper award 2022. (Retrouvey H, Zhong T, Gagliardi AR, Baxter NN, Webster F. (2020). How Ineffective Interprofessional Collaboration Affects Delivery of Breast Reconstruction to Breast Cancer Patients: A Qualitative Study. Ann Surg Oncol. Jul;27(7).
  • Scientific Session Top Paper Award, Association of Women Surgeons, Washington D.C. October 2016. (Webster, F., Rice, K., Christian, J., Seemann, N., Baxter, N., Moulton, C. A., & Cil, T. (2016). The erasure of gender. American Journal of Surgery, 212(4), 559-565.)
  • Pearl Award: Top 5 best papers of the year 2015, awarded at the DFCM Annual Research Day, April 2016. (Webster, F., Rice, K., Dainty, K., Zwarenstein, M., Durant, S., & Kuper, A. (2015). Failure to cope: The hidden curriculum of emergency department wait times and the implications for clinical training. Academic Medicine, 90(1), 56-62.).

Professional Activities

  • Editorial Board member, Canadian Journal of Pain
  • Member, Program Committee, North American Primary Care Research Group (NAPCRG)
  • Co-chair, Research Methods Group, NAPCRG