Gail J Mitchell


Chair/Director, York-UHN Nursing Academy

Locations / Contact Info:

349 HNES
Keele Campus
Phone: 416 736 2100 Ext. 33897

Email address(es):

Faculty & School/Dept.

Faculty of Fine Arts - Theatre
Faculty of Health - School of Nursing


PhD - 1992
University of South Carolina
Columbia, SC


 Gail Mitchell is a Professor in the School of Nursing at York University and Director/Chair of the YORK-UHN Nursing Academy in Toronto, Canada. An educator and qualitative researcher, she is a proponent of person-centred health care and knowledge translation through research-based drama, film, and visual art. Gail has been involved in the production and/or evaluation of several research-based dramas—one involving life with dementia, another linked with rehabilitation and life for persons with acquired brain injury, a third on issues connecting complexity and patient safety, and a fourth, in progress, on dementia and relationality. She has worked with a team conducting research on suburban homelessness who produced a research-based film: Spaces and Places : Uncovering Homelessness in Peel Region--produced for Peel Poverty Action Group by York University, School of Nursing, the Homeless Hub, Critical Disability Studies, with the Social Planning Council of Peel Region. Other research projects involve working to mobilize new meanings for women living with disability and difference and creating new tools for e-learning in higher education. Gail is particularly interested in promoting social change that diminishes the unnecessary suffering linked with stigma and in advancing possibilities with complexity science and health/education reform.

Selected Publications


Jonas-Simpson, Mitchell, G.J., Carson, J., Whyte, C., Dupuis, S. & Gillies, J. (in press). Phenomenological shifts for healthcare professionals after experiencing a research-based drama on living with dementia. Journal of Advanced Nursing.

Kontos, P., Miller, K.L., Gilbert, J.E., Mitchell, G.J., Colantonio, A., Keightley, M.L., Cott, C. (In press). Improving client-centered brain injury rehabilitation through research-based theater. Qualitative Health Research.

Mitchell, G. J. (in press). Implications of holding ideas of evidence-based practice in nursing. Nursing Science Quarterly.

Mitchell, G. J., & Richards, J. (in press). Issues in Contemporary Nursing Leadership. In Realities of Canadian Nursing: Professional, Power and Practice Issues (4th ed.).

Mitchell, G.J., Tregunno, D. Gray, J., & Ginsburg, L. (2011). Examining patterns of patient safety culture: A complexity and arts-informed inquiry. Canadian Journal of Nursing Leadership, 24(4), 65-77.

Dupuis, S., Gillies, J., Mitchell, G. J., Jonas-  Simpson, C., Whyte, C., & Carson, J. (2011) Catapulting shifts in images, understandings and actions for family members through research-based drama. Family Relations, 60, 104-120.

Mitchell, G.J., Dupuis, S., Jonas-Simpson, C., Whyte, C., Carson, J., & Gillies, J. (2011). The experience of engaging with research-based drama: Evaluation and explication of synergy and transformation. Qualitative Inquiry, 17, 379-392.

Kontos, P., Mitchell, G.J., Mistry, B., Ballon, B. (2010). Using drama to improve person-centred dementia care. International Journal of Older People Nursing (Special Issue: Outcomes from the Promotion of Personhood in Gerontological Nursing) 5, 159-168.

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, doi: 10.1093/geronb/gbq022 

Kontos, P., Miller, K.L., Mitchell, G.J. (2009). 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.


Other Research Outputs

Links to research-based dramas.




College of Nurses of Ontario

Registered Nurses Association of Ontario

Service/Community Activities

Alzheimers Society of Ontario


Distinguished Alumni Award, Christine E. Lynn College of Nur - 2008

Award of Merit, Registered Nurses Association of Ontario, To - 1997

Distinguished Alumni Award, University of Toronto, Toronto, - 1996


Currently available to supervise graduate students: Yes

Currently taking on work-study students, Graduate Assistants or Volunteers: Yes

Available to supervise undergraduate thesis projects: No

Current Research

Primary research interests include research-based dramas, arts-informed teaching and learning, and complexity science applications. I am involved in creating and evaluating research dramas for persons with dementia and acquired brain injury.  The research drama about living with dementia, called I'm Still Here, has been perfromed live more than 100 times and more than 800 copies of the DVD have been distributed around the globe. I have also helped create and produce a drama on patient safety called Seeing the Forest.  The research dramas are innovative ways of translating research and conveying important messages about lived experinece and social change.

Research Projects

Knowledge translation through research-based drama on dementia: Evaluating change in understanding, imaging, and action.
Trans-disciplinary research evaluated the impact of a research-based drama on dementia. Team has published four papers and presented multiple times. Research advanced knowledge about how the arts (drama) help to create and sustain change.
Role: Principal Investigator
Amount funded: $155,301
Year Funded: 2006
Duration: 3
Funded by: Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council

After the Crash: Exploring Knowledge Translation through Research-Based Drama.
Research completed and findings being published. Findings support drama as an effective and meaningful way to translate research messages.
Role: CoInvestigator
Amount funded: $115,200
Year Funded: 2008
Duration: 3
Funded by: Canadian Institutes of Health Research

Embodied selfhood and person-centred dementia care: Exploring an arts-informed educational intervention.
Research completed and findings published. The arts enhanced educational experiences for health workers learning about person-centred dementia care.
Role: CoInvestigator
Amount funded: $128,000
Year Funded: 2007
Duration: 3
Funded by: Canadian Institutes of Health Research

Knowledge Translation Supplement. Enhancing relationship-centred care through research-based drama
Trans-disciplinary research team play wright/director has synthesized research themes and are preparing a drama on how persons with dementia express relationships with others and life patterns.
Role: CoInvestigator
Amount funded: $100,000
Year Funded: 2011
Duration: 1
Funded by: Canadian Institutes of Health Research

Embodied selfhood and clowning An innovative approach to person-centred dementia care
Professional clowning is an art-form that can help persons with dementia to express themselves in embodied ways. Research team is beginning project to evaluate if clowning enhances quality of life and quality of person-centred care.
Role: CoInvestigator
Amount funded: $214,888
Year Funded: 2012
Duration: 3
Funded by: Canadian Institutes of Health Research

Trans-disciplinary Innovation in Pedagogy: Advancing Educational Reform on the World Wide Web.
Working with transdiciplinary faculty and technical team to develop and evaluate web-based, interactive, student-centred educational tools.
Role: Principal Investigator
Amount funded: $370,000
Year Funded: 2011
Duration: 2
Funded by: Other...
Other funding: Academic Innovation Fund-York University

RN-Health Coaching and System Navigation Project
Team created four RN Health Coach roles and are integrating in Black Creek Community and at Southlake Regional Health Centre working with persons with type 2 diabetes.
Role: Principal Investigator
Amount funded: $370,000/yr
Year Funded: 2011
Duration: indefinite
Funded by: Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care

Mobilizing new meanings of disability and difference: Using arts-based approaches to advance health care inclusion for women with disabilities
Trans-disciplinary research team working with women and health professionals in three regions of Ontario using digital story and drama to create understanding and change.
Role: Co-Principal Investigator
Amount funded: $371,202
Year Funded: 2011
Duration: 3
Funded by: Canadian Institutes of Health Research

Curriculum Vitae (C.V. file):

CV of Gail J Mitchell