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Betty Davies

Betty Davies

Betty Davies, RN, PhD, CT, FAAN

Professor Emeritus


School Role

To our knowledge, the role of a Senior Scholar in a School of Nursing is the only one of its kind. The position is a time-limited one, aimed at providing consultation by a Senior Professor during a period of decreased numbers of senior faculty in the school due to retirements, faculty serving in campus-level administrative positions, and faculty holding major research awards.

In this position, in addition to continuing my own research program in pediatric palliative care, my role is to serve as a consultant and coach for junior faculty and doctoral students as they develop their research careers and to promote ongoing development of a research milieu within the school while reinforcing the existing emphasis on scholarship.

The role also includes guest lecturing, teaching the introductory doctoral seminar, and serving on the PhD Committee to assist with transitioning the PhD program to include a distributive option which began in the Fall of 2011.

Among my community contributions, I am a founder of Canuck Place Children's Hospice in Vancouver and currently a member of the advisory board for Supersibs!, a non-profit organization that supports the brothers and sisters of children with cancer.

I am a recipient of a Canadian Nurses Association Centennial Award and of the Hospice and Palliative Nurses Association Distinguished Career Achievement Award.  I was inducted as a fellow of the American Academy of Nursing in 2000.



My research focuses on pediatric palliative care (PPC) with the practical goal of optimizing quality of life for seriously ill children and their families. To this end, I completed a needs assessment for North America's first free-standing children's hospice (Canuck Place in Vancouver, Canada), used my research findings to develop and implement the program, and assessed the initial effectiveness of the program. At UCSF Children's Hospital, I conducted a three-part needs assessment as the basis for the PPC program. Currently, I am a co-investigator on a project to implement a palliative approach by nurses in BC.

Examples of other projects include studies of mothers whose child died from cancer, of Latino and Chinese families, and of fathers whose children received PPC - both funded by NIH. As a co-investigator on a New Emerging Team (NET) grant funded by CIHR to study the transitions (physiological, clinical, developmental, and system) that characterize PPC, my colleagues and I are conducting studies of stress and personal growth among caregivers of children with life-threatening conditions and the experiences over time of families of children with progressive neurodegenerative conditions.

My PPC focus includes research into sibling bereavement. My research findings, in combination with clinical experiences and facilitating bereavement groups for children, provided the basis for my book, Shadows in the Sun: Experiences of Sibling Bereavement in Childhood (1999, Taylor & Francis). My work in this field continues as a consultant on an NIH-funded project to examine sibling, parent, and family bereavement following childhood cancer.


My approach teaching derives from the empirically derived Supportive Care Model (SCM) that describes six dimensions of the nurse’s role in supportive care (Davies B and Oberle K. 1990. Oncology Nursing Forum, 17:1, 87-94). That is, within a context of valuing teaching, learning and students as individuals, teachers must connect with students, empower them to learn and develop professionally and personally, help them find meaning through critical reflection, teach them practical skills of “doing for” while sometimes “doing for” the student themselves, all while maintaining the personal integrity of students’ and of oneself.

My teaching experience includes:

  • a three-year hospital diploma program (Misericordia Hospital, Edmonton, AB);

  • a two-year college diploma program and refresher courses for nurses re-entering practice (Grant MacEwan Community College, Edmonton, AB);

  • 4-year baccalaureate programs (University of British Columbia, University of Alberta);

  • Fast-track baccalaureate programs (UBC, University of California San Francisco);

  • Graduate (master's and doctoral) programs at UofA, UBC, UCSF;

  • UVic, where I teach the first year doctoral seminar – N621.

I have taught a wide variety of courses, including graduate courses in pediatric palliative care, nursing theory, qualitative research, ethics and qualitative research.

I have supervised major projects or theses for over 40 master's students, qualifying examinations and/or dissertations for 21 doctoral students as well as research and teaching residencies for doctoral students. I have supervised 4 post-doctoral students and currently serve as the nurse faculty scholar national mentor for one individual through the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.


Selected Publications
  • Davies, B., Larson, J.M., Contro, N. and Cabrera, A. (2011). Perceptions of discrimination among Mexican American families of seriously ill children. Journal of Palliative Medicine, 14(2), 71-76.

  • Davies, B., Larson, J.M., Contro, N., Reyes Hailey, C., Ablin, A., Chesla, C., Sourkes, B., & Cohen, H. (2009). Conducting a qualitative culture study of pediatric palliative care. Qualitative Health Research, 19(1), 5-16.

  • Widger, K., Steele, R., Oberle, K. & Davies, B. (2009). Exploring the supportive care model as a framework for pediatric palliative care. Journal of Hospice and Palliative Nursing, 11(4), 1-8.

  • Davies, B., Sehring, S., Partridge, J.C., Cooper, B., Hughes, A., Phip, J., Amidi-Nouri, A., & Kramer, R. (2008). Barriers to palliative care in children: Perceptions of pediatric health care providers. Pediatrics, 121, 282-288.

  • Davies, B. (1999) Shadows in the Sun: The Experience of Sibling Bereavement in Childhood. Philadelphia, PA: Brunner/Mazell.


I serve as a co-investigator on a New Emerging Team (NET) grant funded by CIHR (2006-2011) to study the transitions (physiological, clinical, developmental, and system) that characterize PPC.

We have conducted several studies, three of which are still in process and funded by CIHR:

  • Caregiving Parents of Children with Life-Limiting Illnesses: Beyond Stress & Coping to Growth (S. Cadell, PI; 2009-2012);

  • Charting the Territory: Determining and Documenting Trajectories for Families Where a Child Has a Life-Threatening Condition (H. Siden & R. Steele Co-PIs, 2008-2013);

  • A Multi-Dimensional Strategy for Knowledge Translation in Pediatric Palliative Care Research (H. Siden, PI, 2010-2012).

I am a co-investigator , serving as a senior adviser, on a Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research BC Nursing Research Initiative. Impacts of a Palliative Approach for Nursing (IPAN)(K. Stajduhar, PI; C. Taylor, Co-PI; 2011-2015).

I am a principal investigator on a University of Victoria SSHRC General Research Grant: Pilot Study for Best practices - Health care provider interactions with parents of children with complex or life-threatening conditions; 2010-2011.

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