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 (or lack thereof) in the context of chronic pain care and suicidality.

Utilizing an institutional ethnography methodology, a strong patient-oriented perspective will be employed to explore therapeutic alliances as they promote or impede healing activities for those presenting with distress in medical settings. Secondary exploration aims to better understand how individuals navigate self-resourcing in the absence of trauma-informed policies, especially when re-traumatization occurs through patient-care provider interactions.

Additionally, Alexandria is focusing on course work in advanced qualitative health research, and health program evaluation. 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

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

Alexandria’s MA graduate 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 health.

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.

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 wasdelivering 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: Thepotential social significance and impact of psychiatric service dogs,” thefollowing is a preliminary presentation on the findings of my Master’s Thesiswhich was an exploratory, thematic analysis looking at the impact that psychiatricservice dogs have for veterans at high-risk for suicide.


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 work is helping inform an evidence-informed substance use recovery toolkit with 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:

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.

Chronic 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 am currently assisting on the Board of Directors where I am aiming to do further content development and education for the general public. I have a role on the “Improving Pain in Saskatchewan” Advisory Panel, am involved with various chronic pain working groups that are developing in tandem with the "Partners in Pain" remote projects, and am starting as a research assistant on the "Improving Pain in Saskatchewan" research project for Phase 2 commencing in 2022.

I am also involved with the PPD 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.

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), persistent pelvic pain, and a later diagnosis of endometriosis.

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.

Your Partners in Pain - Podcast

In collaboration with SaskPain, I am currently acting as a support researcher and patientpartner/advocate in a knowledge translation role helping with communication viaresource development and education. I am also hosting the newly released "YourPartners In Pain" podcast which is programming targeting chronic painpatients, care providers, and health professionals in the province ofSaskatchewan.

Episode Listings can be found here:

As well as on all major listening platforms (Spotify, AppleMusic, GooglePodcast, AmazonMusic).

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.

A publicly available statement I made in response to this published piece can be found on my personal page - it details how the article did not focus on the subject matter I originally agreed to speak to, providing a longer commentary on why chronic pain isn't adequately approached by existing health care services.

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:

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:

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. 


Multiple Project Involvement

I am currently involved in multiple projects focused on suicide prevention activities. In addition to my MA thesis, I am a student advisor on various institutionally related projects pertaining to suicide through Student Wellness & an collaborative research endeavour being undertaken with the University of Jos in Nigeria.

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 (see Academic CV), as suicidology remains a core focus 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-imaging 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 (2018-2019)

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. More information can be found HERE.


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). AnimalAssisted Intervention and Suicidality: The Impact of Service Dogs  forVeterans at High-Risk for Suicide. Human-Animal Interaction Section ofDivision 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.

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

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.

Using Format