CURRENT RESEARCH PROJECTS

PhD Research - Medical Sociology, USask (2022 - 2026)

Alexandria's forthcoming doctoral work, funded by the University of Saskatchewan's Dean's Scholarship, aims to focus on continuing to advance the importance of "mattering," as well as trauma informed policies in the context pain care and suicidality.

Utilizing an institutional ethnography methodology, a strong patient-oriented perspective will be employed to explore iatrogenic harm, therapeutic interactions, and institutional procedures as they promote or impede healing activities for female-identifying pain patients presenting with distress in medical settings. Secondary exploration aims to better understand how these individuals navigate self-resourcing in the absence of trauma-informed policies, especially when re-traumatization occurs through while attempting to access care and services. 

Additionally, Alexandria is focusing on course work in advanced qualitative health research, health program evaluation, community health and epidemiology, and advanced social theory. She continues to provide support to the One Health & Wellness Office and Improving Pain in Saskatchewan research projects, as well as acting as a teaching assistant for Sociology 307 ("Animals in Society").

MA Thesis - Defended December 2021

Successful defence and acceptance without revision occurred on December 1st, 2021 by committee members Dr. Colleen Dell (Sociology) and Dr. Carolyn Brooks (Sociology), External Examiner Dr. Pamela Downe (Anthropology), and chair, Dr. Harley Dickinson (Sociology). Alexandria received the Outstanding Graduating Sociology Student  Award from the Canadian Sociological Association for her MA work. 

Alexandria’s MA research was conducted through the Department of Sociology at the University of Saskatchewan under the supervision of Dr. Colleen A. Dell. The SSHRC funded research - “Exploring Mattering and the Human-Animal Bond: The Impact of Service Dogs for Military Veterans at High Risk for Suicide - was a secondary thematic analysis conducted with Canadian military veterans  to assess the potential social significance and impact that service dogs may have for those at-risk for suicide.

The project analyzed data from an 18-month long project conducted by the One Health & Wellness Research office which was funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) and sponsored by Health Canada. The original project - “The Impact of Service Dogs in the Lives of Veterans Who Problematically Use Opioids" - examined the impact that service dogs have on veterans’ substance use activities and overall wellness.

Primary findings of the thesis conclude that mattering can exist through human-canine interactions (which has previously only been explored on a human-human basis), and that SDs are reported as being a direct catalyst in reducing suicidality, therefore highlighting the importance of the human-animal bond in assisting with overall suicide risk.

The full thesis is online and available for review, HERE.

ONGOING PROJECT INVOLVEMENT

Service Dog Research

Part of my role as a graduate student and research assistant is actively working on service dog research being conducted through the One Health & Wellness Research office.

My MA research helped inform and provide data for an evidence-informed substance use recovery toolkit for Veterans in the AUDEAMUS service dog program, were the findings will be shared with national service dog organizations for utilization and evaluation.

More information can be found at: https://servicedogresearch.ca/

Q+A: Sask. researcher says service dogs prevent suicides (The Saskatoon StarPhoenix)

May 10, 2022 - Alexandria Pavelich sits with her dog Zola, who is a St. John Ambulance Therapy Dog in Training. Pavelich, a PhD student researcher in the University of Saskatchewan's Office of One Health and Wellness, says service dogs not only save lives but can mitigate the growing mental health crisis. Read the full StarPhoenix article and front page coverage HERE.

Photo Credit: Matt Smith, Saskatoon StarPhoenix/PostMedia

The National News (CTV) on May 13, 2022

Click HERE for full video clip.

Gormley - Alexandria Pavelich & Open Lines (CKOM, Saskatchewan)
Wednesday, May 11, 2022

How Service Dogs Help Veterans (CTV Saskatoon)

May 10, 2022 - Video & Reporting Coverage by Tyler Barrow at CTV News.

CLICK HERE FOR THE FULL VIDEO.

University of Saskatchewan study shows service dogs improve veteran mental health (GlobalTV Saskatoon)

May 10, 2022 - Print & Video Coverage Reported by Montana Getty for Gobal TV News.

Veterans are considered heroes by many, but to veteran Mike Richards, his service dog Felix is the one who saved his life. “I wouldn’t be here without a service dog,” said Richards. Richards got out of the military in 2008 and was diagnosed with severe PTSD in 2009. “And at that time, I didn’t really think life was worth living.” But he wanted to be there for his daughter to see her graduate and walk down the aisle. Richards got his first service dog in 2016, and has been a part of training and research programs ever since.

“The human-animal bond and the strong social support it provides can be the primary mental health support for people,” said PhD student researcher in the University of Saskatchewan’s Office of One Health & Wellness, Alexandria Pavelich. “We need people to start realizing service dogs can improve our mental health.”

CLICK HERE FOR THE FULL ARTICLE.

University of Saskatchewan study shows service dogs improve veteran mental health (GlobalTV)

May 10, 2022 - Print & Video Coverage Reported by Montana Getty

Service dog 'makes my life kind of back to normal,' says veteran diagnosed with PTSD (CBC Saskatchewan)

University of Saskatchewan PhD student researcher Alexandria Pavelich looked at the concept of mattering — the need to feel valued by others — and how dogs can provide this personal significance to their human companions.

"The concept of mattering is important to someone's overall mental health and to reduce suicide risk," said University of Saskatchewan sociology professor Colleen Dell, who supervised the research.

FULL ARTICLE HERE.


University of Saskatchewan research shows bond between veteran and service dog can be life-saving (CBC Radio)

Researchers at the University of Saskatchewan spent 16 months recently, keeping tabs on war veterans and their service dogs. We hear about the special relationship between service dogs and veterans -- and how they can help vets who are dealing PTSD.

Full Length Radio Interview Available Here.

Saskatoon Morning Live with Leisha Graninski.

John Gormley & Alexandria Pavelich CKOM Interview

May 11, 2022 - The John Gormley Show (CJME/CKOM for Rawlco Radio - Gormley On Demand)

Every day, an estimated 11 Canadians will die by suicide, and a Saskatchewan researcher is the first to show service dogs can help to bring that number down.

A first-of-its-kind study by Alexandria Pavelich, a PhD student researcher in the University of Saskatchewan’s Office of One Health & Wellness, completed as part of a broader study led by University of Saskatchewan sociology professor Colleen Dell, followed four Canadian veterans over a 16-month period as they were paired with service dogs to help them deal with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), substance use and suicidal ideation.

She found the dogs were a direct catalyst in preventing suicidality among the veterans, and helped to make them feel socially supported, and she joins Gormley to tell us more. She’ll be speaking at the upcoming Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences, which is open to the public. You can find out more and register at www.Congress2022.ca

CLICK HERE FOR THE FULL AUDIO INTERVIEW.

Poster Presentation



An academic poster overview of my MA Thesis work which is set for presentation June 16th, 2022 at the Suicide Research Symposium Inaugural Conference at Mount Sinai, New York City, NY. 

Poster Presentation

An academic poster overview of my MA Thesis work which is set for presentation March 3, 2021 at the "Anthrozoology as International Practice" academic conference at the University of Exeter, UK.


Lightning Presentation

A three-minute overview of my MA Thesis work which is set for presentation March 3, 2021 at the "Anthrozoology as International Practice" academic conference at the University of Exeter, UK.

Thesis Findings Presentation - 990 Seminar Series

This video is a PRACTICE RUN of a presentation I was delivering to the Sociology Department at the University of Saskatchewan as apart of the 990 Seminar Series on April 30, 2021.

Entitled, “Exploring animal-assisted intervention among military veterans: The potential social significance and impact of psychiatric service dogs,” the following is a preliminary presentation on the findings of my Master’s Thesis which was an exploratory, thematic analysis looking at the impact that service dogs have for veterans at high-risk for suicide.

Young Innovators: Hounds of hope; U of S researcher investigates how service dogs can improve the mental health of veterans

On October 9, 2021 I was featured as a "Young Innovator" for my service dog research in the Sasktoon StarPhoenix.

"The human-to-animal connection may reduce the risk of suicide in military veterans by providing unique social support. University of Saskatchewan (USask) sociology MA candidate Alexandria Pavelich is exploring how suicidality in military veterans may be mitigated by the presence of service dogs and how this relationship positively influences mental health..." Read more:

Full Article Available HERE
As well as on the USask Website

Animal-Assisted Intervention & Suicidality: The Impact of Service Dogs For Veterans At High-Risk For Suicide (SHORT)

This presentation, by Alexandria Pavelich of the One Health & Wellness Research Lab, was originally entitled: " Animal-Assisted Intervention and Suicidality: The Impact of Service Dogs for Veterans at High-Risk for Suicide."

This is a recording of the presentation for the American Psychological Association Human-Animal Interaction Social Hour on August 12, 2021.

Cited as:  Pavelich, A. (2021). Animal-assisted intervention and suicidality: The impact of service dogs for Veterans at high-risk for suicide. American Psychological Association (APA) Convention - Human Animal Interaction Panel, in Washington, DC on August 12, 2021.

PAIN RESEARCH

Chronic Pain in Saskatchewan

DISCLAIMER: The opinions expressed on this website are my own and not those of SaskPain.

Beginning in 2021, I joined the Board of Directors for the Saskatchewan Pain Society Inc. (SaskPain), and this involvement was inspired by own lived experience of chronic pain. This role enables me to act as a patient advocate to raise awareness about chronic pain treatment and patient concerns in our province, as well as combine my research experience as a pain sociologist to improve care procedures, policies, and help develop and share resources for patients within the province.

I currently have a role on the “Improving Pain in Saskatchewan” advisory panel and as a research assistant, am assisting in developing a graphic medicine project to assist in reducing stigma around chronic pain and substance use, and I am involved with various chronic pain working groups that are developing in tandem with the "Partners in Pain" remote projects. I am involved with the PPDA Association and connected with a network of scholars such as Dr. David Schechter, Dr. Howard Schubiner, and Dr. Gabor Maté studying mind/body healing for chronic pain conditions that do not respond to conventional therapies.

On January 31st, 2022, I was able to speak on behalf of SaskPain to Chantal Wagner on the Global TV Morning Show (Saskatoon).

"Your Partners in Pain" Podcast

In collaboration with SaskPain, I am currently acting as a patient partner and advocate in a knowledge translation role helping with communication via resource development and education. I am also the developer and host of the "Your Partners In Pain" podcast which is programming targeting chronic pain patients, care providers, and health professionals. The goal is to provide education while also giving a voice to those living with chronic pain in the province of Saskatchewan.

Episode Listings can be found here: https://feeds.transistor.fm/your-partners-in-pain - as well as on all major listening platforms (Spotify, AppleMusic, GooglePodcast, AmazonMusic).

Menstrual Pain Phone App Research

I am currently acting as an UX researcher and project coordinator under the supervision of Dr. Michelle Gagnon in the Family Health Lab.

I am contributing to development and analysis (patient engagement, recruitment, data collection, survey analysis) on a usability research study focused on improving adolescent menstrual pain after the use of a mindfulness-based phone app. 

Partners In Pain - Webinar

On March 30th, 2022 I shared my lived experience story of pain with the SaskPain hosted "Your Partners in Pain" webinar series which was facilitated by pharmacist Kelly Kyzlyk and featured medical cannabis researcher, Dr. Robert Laprairie.

Skip to 35:35 for the lived experience portion, and the full listing of PiP Webinars can be found HERE.

Chronic Pain Research (IPSK)

On May 11 to 13th, our Improving Pain in Saskatchewan team presented at the Canadian Pain Society Conference regarding our program evaluation findings from our "Partners in Pain" webinar pain education and community engagement events. The full citation is:

Jones, C., Jack, J., Hewson, M., Pavelich, A., Okeeweehow, S., Beckwell, E., McCreery, R., Baerg, K., Juckes, K., Coe, J., Dell, C., Downe, P., Lawson, K., Ugulini, C., and Tupper, S. (2022). Partners in Pain: Evaluation of a virtual community engagement group for people living with chronic pain in Saskatchewan. Canadian Pain Society - Annual Meeting in Montreal, Quebec on May 11-13, 2022.

Lived Experience

My lived experience of chronic pain has been ongoing for over 15 years where I have struggled with various issues such as 3 herniated discs from sporting injuries (pictured), severe migraines, and persistent pelvic pain (with, later, diagnosis of the under recognized pelvic congestion syndrome).

I have used a variety of techniques to overcome and manage my pain: in person therapies, online rehabilitation programs, medicinal yoga, nervous system regulation, somatic experiencing therapy, and neural circuit pain reprocessing techniques. I am a large supporter of the Curable app as a tool for managing pain conditions.

ARTICLE: Sask. residents with chronic pain can feel 'quite abandoned by the system'

On October 8, 2020 I gave an interview to the Star Phoenix regarding my opinion on the state of trauma-informed care for chronic pain patients in Saskatoon. This front-page report is available for view here dated on January 2, 2021.

SUICIDE RESEARCH

Multiple Project Involvement

I am currently involved in multiple projects focused on suicide prevention activities. In addition to my MA thesis regarding suicide prevention, I am a student advisor on various institutionally related projects pertaining to suicide through Student Wellness.

My undergraduate thesis was a discourse analysis on the Government of Canada's "Federal Framework for Suicide Prevention" for which I was the  "Best Presentation" recipient for my academic paper, "The Medicalization of Suicide and its Depoliticization of Social Suffering" at York University (pictured, left).

I have previously published on the topic of suicide through UBC Press, and I regularly present on the topic at academic conferences, as suicidology remains a core academic focus as a sociologist of pain.


Preliminary Findings from Service Dog Project - Mattering & Suicidality

My MA thesis involved looking at dimensions of suicidality and mattering among Canadian Military Veterans working along Service Dogs at high risk for suicide.

Overview of findings are visualized here, as presented to the Veterans on May 28, 2021.

Presenting on Critical Suicidology

Pavelich, A. (2021). The depoliticization of suicide: A critical discourse analysis on the Government of Canada’s federal framework for suicide prevention.

This presentation of my UG Thesis work was set for presentation at the Critical Suicide Studies International Conference at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, BC June 12, 2020. Due to COVID-19, the conference was cancelled so I was able to later present through the University of Calgary's "Re-Imagining Social Futures" focused conference March 5, 2021.


Suicidality among Canadian Post-Secondary Students

April 2021, I was able to present my first (ever) quantitative study to colleagues as apart of our Advanced Sociological Methods symposium. My analysis was examining the impact that social support has on student suicide within Canada. My results found that being within a relationship decreases suicide risk, with LGBTQ2+ students experiencing suicidality at rates that are5.1 times greater than male or female students. That is OVER 500%. Take a listen!

Please note, The opinions, findings, and conclusions reported in this presentation are those of the my own – Alexandria Pavelich - and are in no way meant to represent the corporate opinions, views, or policies of the American College Health Association (ACHA). ACHA does not warrant nor assume any liability or responsibility for the accuracy, completeness, or usefulness of any information presented in this presentation.

Making I-SPARX Fly in Nunavut (2017-2019)

While at York University, I acted as a research assistant for "I-SPARX Fly in Nunavut." A four-year CIHR funded youth-led project, the goal was to design and test an Inuit computer game that builds resilience and promotes mental health.

Under the supervision of Dr. Yvonne Bohr, my project involvement for years 1-3 of the project included administrative and research-related tasks such as focusing group coding, creating safety manuals, and developing research workshops for youth in Nunavut. More information can be found HERE.

THERAPY DOG RESEARCH

Therapy Dog Research

Part of my role as a graduate student and research assistant is actively working on therapy dog research being conducted through the One Health & Wellness Research office.

I previously held the position of "PAWS Your Stress" Therapy Dog Program Coordinator (prior to COVID-19). A promotional video giving an overview of the program was produced by myself, Dr. Colleen Dell, and director John Ogresko in 2019.

More information can be found at: https://therapydogs.ca/

Transitioning a Therapy Dog Program Online During the COVID-19 Pandemic

One Health Team Members Benjamin Carey, Shaneice Fletcher-Hildebrand, and Tonya Wirchenko (with Zaphod), and I presented at the #EMH2021  on March 4, 2021 - an event supported by the Mental Health Commission of Canada, CAMH, and UBC's Addictions and Concurrent Disorders Research Group.

Take a look if you want to learn more about Therapy Dogs, Animal Assisted Intervention, or how to transition a volunteer-based program from in-person to online in the context of COVID-19.

Poster Presentation at UBC

Carey, B. (Presenter), Dell, C., Williamson, L., Pavelich, A., McKenzie, H., Gibson, M., & Cruz, M. (2020). Transitioning a Therapy Dog Program Online during the COVID-19 Pandemic: Lessons Learned. Virtual Solutions for Substance Use Care Conference. University of British Columbia. Virtual Platform. In abstentia.

Dell, C., Williamson, L., Carey, B., McKenzie, H., Pavelich, A., Gibson, M., & Cruz, M. (2021). Responding to university student substance use and mental health concerns during COVID-19 through an on-line therapy dog program. Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction, Issues of Substance 2021: Driving Change Together, in Ottawa, Ontario on November 23 – 25, 2021.

Therapy Dog Podcast for BE WELL At USask

One Health & Wellness Office colleague, Holly McKenzie, and I spoke to Peter Hedley, Director of Student Affairs, regarding the PAWS Your Stress program on USask campus. We  discuss how mental health and well-being is supported through the program, the role that the Student Wellness Centre and other community partners have in supporting USask community wellness, and evidence-based facts regarding the benefit of human-animal interaction.

Also available via Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/episode/32aqlI6Analq20CTR4VXCQ

Introducing a Therapy Dog for Staff Members in the Peter MacKinnon and Administration Building (2019/2020)

As partof my role as the PAWS Your Stress program coordinator, I was tasked withhelping expand the therapy dog visits on USask campus. Partnering with TonyaWirchenko – who is the Manager of Executive Projects & Initiatives throughthe Office of Vice President Research – and her therapy dog, Zaphod, we conducteda pilot project for USask Staff. Positives results from our project are availablein THIS REPORT.


"A Study of the ‘Pawsitive’ Impacts of Therapy Dog Visits with Adult Emergency Department Pain Patients"

I was a research assistant on a project examining the impact of visiting therapy dogs on patients’ experiences of pain in the Royal University Hospital Emergency Department during the summer of 2019. 



SOCIOLOGY ACADEMIC COMMUNITY INVOLVEMENT

Canadian Sociological Association (CSA) - Outstanding Graduand Award

As apart of June 2022 convocation at the University of Saskatchewan. Colleagues Leah Houseman (Undergraduate), Dr. Nina Yuchen Gao (PhD), Dr. Terry Wotherspoon (previous CSA president and our social theory professor), and myself (Masters) - all recipients of the Outstanding Graduate Student Award from the Canadian Sociological Association (CSA).

Animal-Assisted Intervention: The Impact of Working Dogs through the One Health & Wellness Office / SUAP

On April 13th, 2022 I was able to present my researching findings to the  Honorable Carolyn Bennett, Minister of Mental Health & Addictions alongside Dr. Colleen Dell, Darlene Chalmers, and Maryellen Gibson as apart of series of federal meetings occurring at university campuses across Canada.

See related: Tweets on the event from Carolyn (and post-event).  

Human-Animal Interactions Bulletin Webinar

On September 15, 2021, I presented my MA thesis findings to scholars within the HAI network of the APA in Washington, DC.

Cited as:  Pavelich, A. (2021). Animal Assisted Intervention and Suicidality: The Impact of Service Dogs for Veterans at High-Risk for Suicide. Human-Animal Interaction Section of Division 17 of the American Psychological Association Annual Convention.Virtual Poster. Journal club presentation (:59). 

990 Seminar Series - Instructional Activity

On April 30, 2021, I was able to deliver my thesis findings to the Sociology Department at the University of Saskatchewan as apart of the 990 Seminar Series.

Department-Focused Instructional Activity

As a CGS-M SSHRC recipient, in October 2019 I was able to  co-develop and lead a 990 Department Seminar on how to secure federal funding as a graduate student.

"Undergraduate Student Expectations & Experience in York University’s Sociology Program" (2019)

In conjunction with SUSA, FLR is a student-led initiative developed to utilize skills learned in SOCI 2030.6 (Sociological Research Method & Design) and SOCI 3030.3 (Social Statistics) by conducting an independent research project. The 2018-2019 project assessed the attitudes and satisfaction that undergraduates have with the YorkU sociology program, combining mixed methods for data collection via surveys and interviews. Findings have been disseminated to the university in a formal report. PDF of Report Infograph Available Here

ISA World Congress of Sociology (2018)

In 2018, I was given the opportunity to volunteer during the week-long Sociology Congress in Toronto, Ontario. Iacted as a session monitor where I oversaw presentation sessions and assistedinternational presenters with set-up and technical issues during their panel. Other general duties included providing importantCongress information to guests, assisting delegates with wayfinding and serviceinquiries, overseeing safety/security concerns, and responding to accessibilityissues.


Sociology Undergraduate Student Association (SUSA) - York University

During my time at York University where I was an executive member of SUSA, I was involved in numerous projects. In addition to overseeing all social media, I was the co-chair and executive director for a sociology undergraduate conference we hosted with attendees from all across Western Canada and the GTA. The academic conference website: HERE

Using Format