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W.E. (Billie) Thurston


Professor (Community Health Sciences)
Ecosystem and Public Health (PAH)

Contact Information: 

+1 (403) 220-6940


Dr. Wilfreda (Billie) Thurston joined the faculty in the Department of Community Health Sciences, Faculty of Medicine, University of Calgary, in 1991, and has held the rank of Professor since 2005. She received her joint appointment in the Department of Ecosystem and Public Health, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, in 2009. She has served as Director of the Institute for Gender Research at the University of Calgary and Director of the Office of Gender and Equity, Faculty of Medicine. She is a member of the Calgary Institute for Population and Public Health, University of Calgary, and currently serves on the Executive Committee. Interest areas:  health of farmers/rural populations, health of Aboriginal populations, roles for veterinarians in public health, health promotion and population health, gender and culture as determinants of health, multidisciplinary research in health.

Teaching : 


MDSC 659.03  Health Program Planning and Evaluation
MDSC 651.02  Health Promotion with Women

 Lectures provided to:

MDSC 645.12  Health Promotion
MDSC 659.05  Qualitative Health Research Methods

Research / Scholarly Activities: 

Program of research and training includes: public participation in health policy development; interplay of the social determinants of health, particularly gender and culture; planning and evaluation of health promotion programs and health services; and prevention of gender-based interpersonal violence.

 My program of research has three main foci: Public Participation; Gender as a determinant of health; and Planning and Evaluation of programs and interventions. Generally, the program is trying to understand how to incorporate effective public participation in the promotion of population health. Gender is a determinant of the health of populations and women are one of the publics that have sought participation in health planning at all levels. My research investigates the role of gender at individual, meso-, and macro-levels and in combination with other determinants. Aboriginal populations and rural populations are a focus because of marginalization and health access issues that are common. The focus on planning and evaluation has led to a very applied research program and I often work with health services (another determinant of population health), using principles and frameworks from the field of health promotion. The latter require examination of inequalities and inequities, and justice. A particularly important area of applied research is prevention of violence against women. I aim to make theoretical and methodological contributions to the literature, as well as substantive contributions that change our understanding of issues or populations.

 My research interests contribute to Ecosystem and Public Health in Veterinary Medicine by asking how veterinarians can serve rural public health, decrease health inequities, and work in interdisciplinary health teams. The principles of health promotion put forth in documents such as the Ottawa Charter and in Aboriginal ontology are supported by the one-health model promoted by the Department of Ecosystem and Public Health and the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine.

 Selected publications:

Cook, T.M, Brook, R.K., Sindhwani, M. & Thurston, W.E. (2011). A pilot study of the impact of bovine spongiform encephalopathy on the futures of rural youth and Canadian farming. Journal of Toxicology and Environmental Health, 74(2-4): 248-260.

Thurston, W.E., Patten, S. & Lagendyk, L.E. (2006).  Prevalence of violence against women reported in a rural health region in Alberta.  Canadian Journal of Rural Medicine, 11(4):259-267.

Gerrard, N., Thurston, W.E., Scott, C.M. & Meadows, L.M. (2005). Silencing of women in Canada: The effects of the erosion of support programs for farm women. Canadian Woman Studies, 24(4): 59-66.

Thurston, W.E. & Blundell-Gosselin, H.J. (2005). The farm as a setting for health promotion: Results of a needs assessment in South Central Alberta. Health & Place, 11(1): 31-43.

Thurston, W.E. & Meadows, L.M. (2003). Rurality and health: Perspectives of mid-life women. Rural and Remote Health, 3(3): Article 219. Available:

Thurston, W.E., Blundell-Gosselin, H.J. & Vollman, A.R. (2003). Health concerns of male and female farmers: Implications for health promotion planning. Canadian Journal of Rural Medicine, 8(4): 239-246.

Thurston, W.E., Blundell-Gosselin, H.J. & Rose, S. (2003). Stress in male and female farmers: An ecological rather than an individual problem. Canadian Journal of Rural Medicine, 8(4): 247-254

Thurston, W.E., Cove, L. & Meadows, L.M. (2008). Methodological congruence in complex and collaborative mixed method studies. International Journal of Multiple Research Approaches, 2(1): 2-14.

Frohlich, K.L., Dunn, J.R., McLaren, L., Shiell,A., Potvin, L., Hawe, P., Dassa, C. & Thurston, W.E. (2007). Understanding place and health: A heuristic for using administrative data. Health & Place, 13(2): 299-309.

Meadows, L.M., Lagendyk, L.E., Thurston, W.E., & Eisener, A.C. (2003). Balancing culture, ethics and methods in qualitative health research with Aboriginal peoples. International Journal of Qualitative Methods, 2(4): 1-14.

Kowalsky, L.O., Verhoef, M.J., Thurston, W.E. & Rutherford, G.E. (1996). Guidelines for entry into an Aboriginal community. Canadian Journal of Native Studies, 16(2): 267-282.

Graduate Program Affiliations : 
Veterinary Medical Sciences
Community Health Sciences
Medical Sciences