Patty Thille
Patty Thille, PhD, MA, BSc(PT)

Assistant Professor
Department of Physical Therapy, College of Rehabilitation Sciences

Patty Thille studies health services and health professions education, especially in relation to health disparities and human suffering. She started in health care as a clinical physical therapist, but questions about why we do what we do led her to the social sciences (PhD, Sociology, 2015). To date, her work focuses on stigmatization, health behaviour change, and chronic disease management in primary care and rehabilitation settings.

Research Projects / Focus Areas

Primary Care, Stigma and Discrimination, Chronic Disease Management, Fatness/Obesity, Health Communication, Health Professional Education, Reflexivity, Practice Change, Social Theory, Qualitative Methods, Clinical Sociology, Social Determinants of Health

Current Research Interests

  • Primary care
  • Interpersonal and structural forms of stigma in health care
  • Anti-fat stigma and discrimination
  • Reflexive health care


Thille P, Gibson BE, Abrams T, McAdam L, Mistry B, Setchell J. (2018). Enhancing the human dimensions of children’s neuromuscular care: Piloting a methodology for fostering team reflexivity. Advances in Health Sciences Education. doi: 10.1007/s10459-018-9834-1

  • An evaluation of a reflexivity-oriented intervention with practicing clinical teams. The article makes both a substantive and methodological contribution, particularly around methods to evaluate reflexivity education.

Thille P, (2018). Managing anti-fat stigma in primary care: An observational study. Health Communication. doi: 10.1080/10410236.2018.1439276

  • An exploration of how stigmatizing discourses about fat bodies emerge in primary care appointments, and the immediate conversational impacts, using a combination of conversation and discourse analysis. The findings challenge clinicians and researchers to frame patients’ defensiveness or sensitivity as a predictable response to mitigate stigma, and consider how clinical care might be better structured to avoid stigmatization.

Thille P, Friedman M, Setchell J (2017). Weight-related stigma and health policy. CMAJ, 189(6), E223-4. doi: 10.1503/cmaj.160975

  • A critical analysis of the 2016 report on obesity in Canada by the Standing Senate Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology, which proposes a policy path for the country. We argue that the inattention to anti-fat stigmatization is a major oversight of the document, and risks worsening health inequities. We recommend methods by which those implementing the report can correct the absence.

Thille P, Ward N, Russell GR (2014). Self-management support in primary care: Enactments, disruptions, and conversational consequences. Social Science & Medicine, 108(May), 97-105. doi: 10.1016/j.socscimed.2014.02.04

  • An analysis of primary care clinical interactions that address patient self-management of chronic diseases. Theoretically, self-management support emphasizes a clinical partnership between clinicians and patients, and promotes patient identification and achievement of realistic and short-term behavioral goals. In this ethnographic study, we found both complete negation and incomplete integration of core principles of self-management support. The less dialogue oriented to core principles of self-management support, the more the appointments shifted from problem solving and behavior change into active negotiation of responsibility and patient identity. 

Patty Thille
Address: R131 Rehab Sciences Building
Tel: 204.789.3564