Mary Ellen Macdonald

Associate Professor
Mary Ellen Macdonald
Contact Information
Email address: 
mary.macdonald [at]

*Please note: Professor Macdonald is currently on leave.

MARY ELLEN MACDONALD, PhD, is a medical anthropologist with doctoral training in Indigenous health and postdoctoral training in palliative care. She is an Associate Professor in the Faculty of Dental Medicine and Oral Health Sciences, an Associate Member of the Institute of Health Sciences Education, Chair of the McGill Qualitative Health Research Group (, and Program Head of Pediatric Palliative Care Research at the McGill University Health Centre (Montreal, Quebec). Her current research program focuses on the health of vulnerable populations in Canada, looking across three main domains: oral health, indigenous health, and end-of-life care. She works mainly with qualitative (especially ethnographic) and participatory methodologies. A central focus of her research program is on the various ways the social, the cultural and the political intersect to both produce and respond to particular forms of vulnerability within Canadian society.

Areas of expertise: 
  • Oral public health
  • Indigenous health
  • Palliative care and bereavement
  • Health professions education
2001 McGill College, suite 500
Research areas: 
Population Oral Health
Selected publications: 
  1. Tikhonova S, Jessani A, Girard F, Macdonald ME, De Souza G, Tam L, Eggert FM, Nguyen-Ngoc C, Morin N, Aggarwal N, Schroth RJ Outcomes and recommendations for a cariology education reform in Canada: Report of a national symposium. Journal of Dental Education (2020)
  2. Muirhead, VC, Adrianne, Freeman R, Doughty J, Macdonald ME, What is intersectionality and why is important in oral health research? Community Dentistry & Oral Epidemiology 2020,48(1):1-6.
  3. Carnevale FA, Collin-Vézina D, Macdonald ME, Ménard J-F, Talwar V, Van Praagh S. Childhood Ethics: An ontological advancement for childhood studies. Children & Society (2020)
  4. Macdonald ME, Singh H, Bulgarelli AF. Death, dying and bereavement in undergraduate dental training: A narrative review. Journal of Dental Education 84(5):524-533
  5. Breen L, Kawashima D, Joy K, Cadell S, Roth D, Chow A, Macdonald ME. Grief Literacy: A call to action for compassionate communities. Death Studies (2020)
  6. Singh H, Carnevale F, Macdonald ME. Considering medical assistance in dying for minors: The complexities of children's voices, Journal of Medical Ethics 2020,46(6):399-404
  7. Sternszus R, Boudreau D, Creuss R, Creuss S, Macdonald ME, Steinert Y. Clinical teachers’ perceptions of their role in professional identity formation. Academic Medicine (2020)
  8. Santos RP, Macdonald ME, Carnevale FA (2020) A scoping review of the moral experiences of children with medical complexity in Brazil. Revista Brasileira de Enfermagem, 2020;73(2)
  9. Lajoie C, Poleksic J, Bracken-Roche D, Macdonald ME, Racine E. The concept of vulnerability in mental health research: A mixed methods study on researcher perspectives. Journal of Empirical Research on Human Research Ethics, 15(3):128-142
  10. Cadell S, Reid Lambert M, Davidson D, Greco C, Macdonald ME. Memorial tattoos: Advancing continuing bonds theory. Death Studies (2020)
  11. Freeman R, Doughty J, Macdonald ME, Muirhead, V. Inclusion oral health: Advancing a theoretical framework for policy, research and practice. Community Dentistry & Oral Epidemiology 2020,48(1):1-6
  12. Keboa MT, Enriquez N, Martel M, Nicolau B, Macdonald ME. Oral health implications of cannabis smoking: A rapid evidence review. Journal of the Canadian Dental Association 2020;86:k2
  13. Styffe C, Tratt E, Macdonald ME, Brassard P. HPV self-sampling in Indigenous communities: A scoping review. Journal of Immigrant and Minority Health 2019,22:852–859
  14. Lévesque MC, Law S, Torrie J, Carlin R, Trapper L, Kutcher A, Macdonald ME. Northern Québec James Bay Cree regional health governance in support of community participation: Honoring the Butterfly. The International Indigenous Policy Journal, 2019,10(4)
  15. Shrivastava R, Kadoch N, Couturier Y, Girard F, Bedos C, Macdonald ME, Torrie J, Emami E. Patients’ perspectives on integrated oral health care in a northern Quebec Indigenous primary health care organization: a qualitative study. BMJ Open 2019;9:e030005
  16. Kutcher A, Pichette P, Macdonald ME, Carnevale FA. Exploring the health and well-being of children and youth in Winneway, Québec. International Journal of Indigenous Health 2019,14(2):127-146
  17. Keboa MT, Nicolau B, Carnevale F, Hovey R, Esfandiari S, Macdonald ME. A qualitative study on the oral health of humanitarian migrants in Canada. Community Dental Health 2019,36(2):95-100
  18. Keboa MT, Hovey R, Nicolau B, Esfandiari S, Carnevale F, Macdonald ME. Oral healthcare experiences of humanitarian migrants in Montreal, Canada. Canadian Journal of Public Health, 2019,110:453
  19. Macdonald ME, Keboa MT, Nurelhuda N, Lawrence HP, Carnevale F, McNally M, Singhal S, Ka K, Nicolau B. The oral health of refugees and asylum seekers in Canada: A mixed methods study protocol. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health 2019,16(4):e542
  20. Belanger E, Towers A, Tradounsky G, Wright D, Macdonald ME. Of dilemmas and tensions: A qualitative study of palliative care physicians’ positions regarding voluntary active euthanasia in Quebec, Canada. Journal of Medical Ethics 2019,45(1):48-53
  21. Teachman G, Lévesque M, Keboa MT, Danish BA, Mastorakis K, Noronha C, Passos dos Santos R, Singh H, & Macdonald, ME. Group peer review: Reflections on a model for teaching and learning qualitative inquiry. International Review of Qualitative Inquiry 2018,11(4): 452–466
  22. Keboa MT, Beaudin A, Cyr J, Decoste J, Power F, Hovey R, LaFrance L, Ouellet D, Wiseman M, Macdonald ME. Dentistry and nursing working together to improve oral health care in a long-term care facility. Geriatric Nursing 2019;40(2):197-204
  23. Furlini L, Noushi N, Castonguay G, Bedos C, Allison P, De Souza R, Esfandiari S, Hovey R, Macdonald ME, Morris M, Nicolau B, Power F, Feine J. Assessing dental student readiness to treat the underserved: A scoping review. Journal of Dental Education, 2018, 82:483-91
  24. Loutfi D, Law S, McCutcheon C, Carlin R, Torrie J, Macdonald ME. Health planning for Indigenous populations: A rapid evidence review. International Indigenous Policy Journal, 2018,9(2)
  25. Burns V, Carnevale F, Macdonald ME. Epistemological oppression and the road to awakening: A Boot Camp, a Twitter Storm, and a Call to Action! International Journal of Qualitative Methods, 2018,17:1–6
  26. Makansi N, Carnevale FA, Macdonald ME. Conceptualization of childhood in North American pediatric dentistry texts: A discursive case study analysis. International Journal of Paediatric Dentistry 2017,28(2):189-197
  27. Chan L, Macdonald ME, Carnevale FA, Steele RJ, Shrier I. Reconciling disparate data to determine the ‘right’ answer: A grounded theory of reasoning in meta-analysis. Research Synthesis Methods, 2018;9:25–40
  28. Chan LS, Macdonald ME, Carnevale FA, Cohen SR. 'I'm only dealing with the acute issues': How medical ward 'busyness' constrains care of the dying. Health 2017, 22:451-68
  29. Hordyk, SR, Macdonald ME, Brassard P. End-of-life care in Nunavik, Quebec: Inuit experiences, current realities, and ways forward. Journal of Palliative Medicine 2017,20(6):647-655
  30. Hordyk SR, Macdonald ME, Brassard P. Inuit interpreters engaged in end-of-life care in Nunavik, Northern Quebec. Journal of Circumpolar Health 2017, 76(1): 1291868.
  31. Bracken-Roche D, Bell E, Macdonald ME, Racine E. The concept of 'vulnerability' in research ethics: An in-depth analysis of policies and guidelines. Health Research Policy and Systems 2017,15(1):8.
  32. Bélanger E, Rodríguez C, Groleau D; Légaré F, Macdonald ME, Marchand R Patient participation in palliative care decisions: An ethnographic discourse analysis. International Journal of Qualitative Studies on Health and Well-being 2016;11:32438
  33. Affleck W, Fiasse G, Macdonald ME. Narrative, life-trauma, and self-interpretation: Using Ricœur’s Petite éthique to understand the moral experience of bereaved fathers. Narrative Inquiry, 2016;26(1):108-129.
  34. Karsoho H, Fishman J, Wright DK, Macdonald, ME. Suffering and medicalization at the end of life: The case of physician-assisted dying. Social Science & Medicine 2016;170:188-196.
  35. Keboa, MT, Hiles N, Macdonald ME. The oral health of refugees and asylum seekers: A scoping review. Globalization and Health 2016;12(1):59.
  36. Thorne R, Macdonald ME, Thivierge C, Vignola S, Whiteduck G. Odeminiwin: Understanding and supporting childhood stimulation in an Algonquin community. First Peoples Child & Family Review 2016;11(1):24-37.
  37. Mostajer Haqiqi A, Bedos C, Macdonald ME. The Emergency Department as a “last resort”: Why parents seek care for their child’s non-traumatic dental problems in the emergency room. Community Dentistry and Oral Epidemiology 2016,44(5):493-503.
  38. Karsoho H, Fishman J, Wright DK, Macdonald ME. Constructing Physician-Assisted Dying: The politics of evidence from permissive jurisdictions in Carter v. Canada. Mortality 2016,1:1-15.
  39. Pitt R, Sherman J, Macdonald ME. Low-income working immigrant families in Quebec: Exploring their challenges to well-being. Canadian Journal of Public Health 2016,106(8):e539-e545.
  40. Stevenson M, Achille M, Liben S, Proulx, MC, Humbert N, Petti A, Macdonald ME, Cohen SR. Understanding how bereaved parents cope with their grief in order to inform the services provided to them. Qualitative Health Research 2017; 27(5): 649-664.
  41. Sternszus R, Macdonald ME, Steinert Y. Resident role modeling: “It just happens.” Academic Medicine 2016,91(3):427-432.
  42. Rahimzadeh V, Bartlett G, Longo C, Crimi L, Macdonald ME, Jabado N, Ells C. Promoting an ethic of engagement in pediatric palliative care research. BMC Palliative Care 2015;14(1):50.
  43. Carnevale F, Macdonald ME, Razack S, Steinert Y. Promoting cultural awareness: A faculty development workshop on cultural competency. CJNR 2015,47(2):18-40.
  44. Steinert Y, Macdonald ME. Why physicians teach: Giving back by paying it forward. Medical Education 2015,49(8):773-782.
  45. Spicer S, Macdonald ME, Vadeboncoeur C, Davies D, Siden H. Introducing a lexicon of terms for pediatric palliative care. Paediatrics and Child Health 2015,20(3):155-156.
  46. Wright DK, Brajtman S, Cragg B, Macdonald ME. Delirium as letting go: An ethnographic analysis of hospice care and family moral experience. Palliative Medicine 2015,29(10):959-966.
  47. Wright DK, Fishman JR, Sandham S, Karsoho H, Macdonald ME. Physicians and euthanasia: a Canadian print-media analysis of physician perspectives. CMAJ Open 2015,3(2):E134-E139.
  48. Macdonald ME, Beaudin A, Pineda C. What do patients think about dental services in Quebec? An analysis of a dentist rating website. Journal of the Canadian Dental Association 2015;81:f3
  49. Macdonald ME, Kennedy K, Molls S, Pineda C, Mitchell LM, Stephenson PH, Cadell S. Excluding parental grief: A critical discourse analysis of bereavement accommodation in Canadian labour standards. Work: A Journal of Prevention, Assessment and Rehabilitation 2015,50(3):511-26.
  50. Carnevale FA, Campbell A, Collin-Vézina D, Macdonald ME. Interdisciplinary studies of childhood ethics: Developing a new field of inquiry. Children & Society 2015 29:511-523.
  51. Allen D, Badro V, Denyer-Willis L, Macdonald ME, Paré A, Hutchinson T, Barré T, Beauchemin R, Bocti H, Broadbent A, Cohen SR. Fragmented care and whole-person illness: Decision-making for people with chronic, end-stage kidney disease. Chronic Illness 2015,11(1):44-55.
  52. Naidu A, Macdonald ME, Carnevale FA, Nottaway W, Thivierge C, Vignola S. Exploring oral health and hygiene practices in the Algonquin community of Rapid Lake, Quebec. Rural and Remote Health 2014, 14, article #2975.
  53. Bélanger E, Rodríguez C, Groleau D; Légaré F, Macdonald ME, Marchand R. Initiating decision-making exchanges in palliative care: An ethnographic discourse analysis. BMC Palliative Care 2014,13(1):63.
  54. Macdonald ME, Williamson Bathory L, Shenker H, Weiler H, Berry M, Sharma A, Rodd C. Understanding healthy pregnancies: Perspective of the Inuit midwives from Northern Quebec. Canadian Journal of Rural Medicine 2014,19(4):128-33.
  55. Boudreau D, Macdonald ME, Y Steinert. Affirming and reaffirming professional identities through an apprenticeship: Insights from a four-year longitudinal case study. Academic Medicine 2014,89(7):1038-45.
  56. Bell E, Racine E, Chiasson P, Dufourcq-Brana M, Dunn LB, Fins JJ, Ford PJ, Glannon W, Lipsman N, Macdonald ME, McAndrews MP, Mathews DJH. (authorship alphabetical after first two) Beyond consent in research: Revisiting vulnerability in deep brain stimulation for psychiatric disorders. Cambridge Quarterly of Healthcare Ethics 2014,23(3),1-8.
  57. Wright DK, Brajtman S, Macdonald ME. A relational ethical approach to end-of-life delirium. Journal of Pain and Symptom Management 2014,48(2):191-198.
  58. Wakani L, Macdonald ME, Carnevale FA, Bernier I, Wawatie J. Diabetes Bingo! Using participatory research to tackle diabetes with the Algonquin of Barriere Lake. Pimatisiwin, A Journal of Indigenous and Aboriginal Community Health 2014,11(3):361-376.
  59. Affleck W, Glass K, Macdonald ME. The limitations of language: Male participants, stoicism, and the qualitative research interview. American Journal of Men’s Health 2013,7:155-162.
  60. Mitchell LM, Stephenson PH, Cadell S, Macdonald ME. Death and grief on-line: Virtual memorialization and changing concepts of childhood death and parental bereavement on the Internet. Health Sociology Review 2012,21(4):413-431.
  61. Cerigo H, Macdonald ME, Franco EL, Brassard P. HPV Detection by self-sampling in Nunavik, Quebec: Inuit women’s sampling method preferences. Journal of Aboriginal Health 2012,8(1):29-39.
  62. Kooiman H, Macdonald ME, Carnevale FA, Pineda C, Nottaway W, and Vignola S. Minododazin: Translating an Algonquin tradition of respect into youth well-being in Rapid Lake, Quebec. Pimatisiwin. A Journal of Indigenous and Aboriginal Community Health 2012,10(1):1-15.
  63. Nhan C, Laprise R, Douville-Fradet M, Macdonald ME, Quach C. Coordination and resource-related difficulties encountered by Quebec’s public health specialists and infectious diseases/medical microbiologists in the management of A(H1N1): A Mixed-Method, Exploratory Survey. BMC Public Health 2012,12:115.
  64. Macdonald ME, Liben S, Carnevale FA, Cohen SR. An Office or Bedroom? A Disconnect between family culture and professional culture in the PICU. Journal of Child Health Care 2012,16(3):237-249.
  65. Cerigo H, Macdonald ME, Franco EL, Brassard P. Inuit women’s attitudes and experiences towards cervical cancer and its prevention. International Journal of Circumpolar Health 2012,71:17996.
  66. Campbell A, Macdonald ME, Jackson S, Carnevale M, Collin-Vézina C, Carnevale F. Child citizenship and agency as shaped by legal obligations. Child and Family Law Quarterly, 2011;23(4):489-512.
  67. Sherman J, Macdonald ME, Carnevale FA, Vignola S. The development and implementation of a Type 2 Diabetes Prevention Program for youth in the Algonquin community of Rapid Lake, Quebec. Pimatisiwin, A Journal of Indigenous and Aboriginal Community Health 2011;9(1):219-243.
  68. Macdonald ME, Chalk C. Not just numbers: Qualitative research and the clinical neurosciences. Canadian Journal of Neurological Sciences 2011;38(2):195-196.
  69. Jagosh J, Boudreau, DJ Steinert, Y, Macdonald ME, Ingram L. The importance of physician listening from the patients’ perspective: Enhancing diagnosis, healing, and the doctor-patient relationship. Journal of Patient Education and Counseling 2011:85(3):369-74.
  70. Macdonald ME, Rigillo N, Brassard P. Urban Aboriginal understandings and experiences of tuberculosis, in Montréal, Québec, Canada. Qualitative Health Research 2010;20(4):506-523.
  71. Macdonald ME, Chilibeck G, Affleck W, Cadell S. Gender imbalance in pediatric palliative care research samples. Palliative Medicine 2010;24(4):435-444.
  72. Steinert Y, Boillat M, Elizov M, Macdonald ME, Meterissian S, Razack S, McLeod PJ. Faculty development: If you build it, they will come. Medical Education 2010;44:900-907.
  73. Lang C, Macdonald ME, Carnevale FA, Levesque MJ, Decoursay A. Kadiminekak Kiwabigonem: Barriers and facilitators to fostering community involvement in a prenatal program in an Algonquin community. Pimatisiwin, A Journal of Indigenous and Aboriginal Community Health 2010;8(1):55-81.
  74. Cerigo H, Macdonald ME, Franco E, Brassard P. Awareness and knowledge about human papillomavirus among Inuit women in Nunavik, Quebec. Journal of Community Health 2010,36(1):56-62.
  75. Steinert Y, Boudreau D, Boillat M, Slapcoff B, Dawson D, Briggs A, Macdonald ME. The Osler Fellowship: An apprenticeship for medical educators. Academic Medicine 2010;85(7):1242-1249.


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