David Kenneth Wright


David Kenneth Wright
Associate Professor

2014 Postdoctoral Fellowship Biomedical Ethics McGill University
2013 PhD Nursing University of Ottawa
2007 MScA Nursing McGill University
2004 BSc Anatomy & Cell Biology (with minor in Education) McGill University

Room: RGN 3247A
Office: 613-562-5800 ext. 8533
Work E-mail: dk.wright@uottawa.ca

David Wright


David Kenneth Wright is assistant professor and co-director of the Nursing Palliative Care Research and Education Unit, University of Ottawa. He has methodological expertise in qualitative health research, and employs a variety of designs to deepen understanding about health, care, and the contexts in which these occur. His PhD was an ethnographic analysis of how the ‘good death’, as a caregiving ethic, orients nurses and their colleagues in care of patients and families who experience end-of-life delirium. After completing postdoctoral work on a national study about the ethics of medical assistance in dying using discourse analysis (PIs: Jennifer Fishman and Mary Ellen Macdonald, McGill), David has led a number of studies that seek to analyze and articulate the ethics of assisted death from a nursing perspective. Currently, David’s research and teaching activities are organized around two main themes: palliative / end-of-life care and nursing ethics. His program is underpinned by the basic belief that in everyday practice, nurses enact complex processes of moral reasoning and action. His work seeks to make these processes visible so that they can be analyzed, debated, and recognized. He currently mentors a number of graduate students, many of whom are drawing on theoretical lenses of moral experience, identity, and agency in nursing, to better understand various issues in contemporary end-of-life care.  Most recently, David was a visiting scholar at the KU Leuven in Belgium, where he led a project about the nursing ethics of palliative sedation. David is the inaugural director-at-large for research with the Canadian Hospice Palliative Care Nurses Group (2016-2018). He holds specialty certification in hospice palliative nursing from the Canadian Nurses Association, and maintains an active clinical practice as a direct-care registered nurse at a residential palliative care facility in Montreal. 

Research Interests

  • End-of-life care
  • Interpretive studies of nursing practice
  • Medical assistance in dying
  • Nursing ethics
  • Palliative Care
  • Palliative sedation
  • Relational ethics
  • Qualitative research


Peer-reviewed Journal Articles

  • Wright, DK., Vanderspank-Wright, B., Holmes, D., & Skinner, E. (2017) Forensic nursing and the palliative approach to care: an empirical nursing ethics analysis. International Journal of Palliative Nursing. 23(8): 378-385.
  • Pugnaire-Gros, C., Parr, C., Wright, DK, Montreuil, M., & Frechette, J. (2017). Hospital rules and regulations : the perspectives of youth receiving psychiatric care. Journal of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry Nursing. 30: 18-24.
  • Wright, DK., Chirchikova, M., Daniel, V., Bitzas, V., Elmore, J., & Fortin, ML. (2017). Engaging with patients who desire death: interpretation, presence, and constraint. Canadian Oncology Nursing Journal. 27(1): 56-64.
  • Karsoho, H., Wright, DK., Macdonald, ME., & Fishman, JR. (2017). Constructing physician-assisted dying: the politics of evidence from permissive jurisdictions in Carter v. Canada. Mortality. 22(1): 45-59.
  • Elmore, J., Wright, DK., & Paradis, M. (2016, Online ahead of print). Nurses’ moral experiences of assisted death: a meta-synthesis of qualitative research. Nursing Ethics, DOI: 10.1177/0969733016679468
  • Karsoho, H., Fishman, JR., Wright, DK., & Macdonald, ME. (2016). Suffering and medicalization at the end of life: the case of physician-assisted dying. Social Science & Medicine. 170: 188-196.
  • Wright, DK., Brajtman, S., Cragg, B., & Macdonald, ME. (2015). Delirium as letting go: an ethnographic analysis of hospice care and family moral experience. Palliative Medicine. 29: 959-966.
  • Wright, DK., Fishman, JF., Karsoho, H., Sandham, S., & Macdonald, ME. (2015). Physicians and euthanasia: a Canadian print-media analysis of physician perspectives. CMAJ Open. 3(2):E134-139.
  • Wright, DK., Brajtman, S., Macdonald, ME. (2014). A relational ethical approach to end-of-life delirium. Journal of Pain and Symptom Management. 48:191-198.
  • Bush, S., Leonard, M., Agar, M., Spiller, J., Hosie, A., Wright, D., Meagher, D., Currow, D., Bruera, E., Lawlor, P. (2014). End-of-life delirium: issues regarding recognition, optimal management and the role of sedation in the dying phase. Journal of Pain and Symptom Management. 48:215-230.
  • Bush, S., Kanji, S., Pereira, J., Davis, D.H.J., Currow, D.C., Meagher, D., Rabheru, K., Wright, D., Bruera, E., Agar, M., Hartwick, M., Gagnon, P.R., Gagnon, B., Breitbart, W., Regnier, L., Lawlor, P. (2014). Treating an established episode of delirium in palliative care: expert opinion and review of the current evidence base with recommendations for future development. Journal of Pain and Symptom Management. 48:231-248.
  • Bush, S., Bruera, E., Lawlor, P., Kanji, S., Davis, D., Agar, M., Wright, D., Hartwick, M., Currow, D., Gagnon, B., Simon, J., Pereira, J. (2014). Clinical practice guidelines for delirium management: potential application in palliative care. Journal of Pain and Symptom Management. Vol:249-258.
  • Pugnaire-Gros, C., Jarvis, S., Mulvogue, T., Wright, D. (2012). Les interventions infirmières estimées bénéfiques par les adolescents a risque de suicide. Santé Mentale au Québec. 37:193-207.
  • Wright, DK., Pugnaire-Gros, C. (2012). Theory inspired practice for end-of-life cancer care: an exploration of the McGill Model of Nursing. Canadian Oncology Nursing Journal. 22:175-181, 2012.
  • Brajtman, S., Wright, D., Hall, P., Bush, S.H., Bekele, E. (2012). Toward better care of delirious patients at the end of life: a pilot study of an interprofessional educational intervention. Journal of Interprofessional Care. 26:422-425.
  • Wright, D., Lavoie-Tremblay, M., Drevniok, U., Racine, H., Savignac, H. (2011). Relational dimensions of a positive integration experience for new mental health nurses. Archives of Psychiatric Nursing. 25:164-173.
  • Schwartz, L., Wright, D., Lavoie-Tremblay, M. (2011). New nurses’ experience of their role within interprofessional healthcare teams in mental health. Archives of Psychiatric Nursing. 25:155-163.
  • Brajtman, S., Wright, D., Hogan, D.B., Allard, P., Bruto, V., Burne, D., Gage, L., Gagnon, P.R., Sadowski, C.A., Helsdingen, S., Wilson, K. (2011). Developing guidelines on the assessment and treatment of delirium in older adults at the end of life. Canadian Geriatrics Journal. 14:40-50.
  • Wright, D., Brajtman, S. (2011). Relational and embodied knowing: nursing ethics within the interprofessional team. Nursing Ethics. 18:20-30.
  • Wright, D., Pugnaire-Gros, C. (2010). Let’s talk about sex: promoting dialogue among staff on a mental health nursing unit. Journal for Nurses in Staff Development. 26:250-255.
  • Wright, D., Brajtman, S., Bitzas, V. (2009). Human relationships at the end of life: an ethical ontology for practice. Journal of Hospice and Palliative Nursing. 11:219-227.
  • Lavoie-Tremblay, M., Wright, D., Desforges, N., Gélinas, C., Marchionni, C., Drevniok, U. (2008). Creating a healthy workplace for new-generation nurses. Journal of Nursing Scholarship. 40 :299-306.

Other publications

  • Wright, DK. (2017). Nursing memes at odds with our values. Canadian nurse, 113(2), 44.
  • Wright, DK., & Murray, K. (2016). Physician-assisted dying. In: Essentials in hospice and palliative care: a practical resource for every nurse by Kath Murray, Life and Death Matters Publishing Company.
  • Wright, DK. (2016). The opioid crisis is a palliative care crisis. The radical nurse, November 24. https://radicalnursesite.wordpress.com/2016/11/24/the-opioid-crisis-is-a-palliative-care-crisis/
  • Tapp, D., Le Francois, L., & Wright, DK. (2016). Qu’en est-il de la sédation palliative dans le débat au sujet de l’aide médicale à mourir? Analyse des mémoires déposés lors de l’étude du projet de loi 52 concernant les soins de fin de vie. Cahiers francophones de soins palliatifs, 16(1), 60-73.
  • Wright, DK., & Digel Vandyk, A. (2016). Cohort Study: Community palliative care use by dementia sufferers may reduce emergency department use at end of life. Evidence-Based Nursing, 19, 29.
  • Wright, D., & Gottlieb, L.N. (2012). Instructors / Educators role in strengths-based teaching and learning pedagogy. As part of the Instructor’s Guide accompanying Strengths-Based Nursing Care: Health and Healing for Person and Family by L.N. Gottlieb, Springer Publishing Company.
  • Wright, D. (2014). Letter to the editor, Re: Tough exams save lives The Montreal Gazette, October 1.
  • Davie, B., & Wright, D. (2014). Use RNs full range of skills to plug health-care gaps. The Chronicle Herald, January 10.
  • Sadler, K., & Wright, D. (2013). Conversation au chevet d’un mourant : “Combien de temps reste-t-il?” Perspective Infirmière, 10(1), 29-31.
  • Gros, C., Wright, D., Mulvogue, T., & Jarvis, S. (2011). Les interventions infirmières bénéfiques: le point de vue des patients à risque de suicide. La Gérontoise, 22(2), 3-11.
  • Wright, D., Nyland, A., Carnevale, F., & Gros, C. (2010). Broken promises and the bad patient (Response to comment). Nursing Ethics, 17, 668-671.
  • Allard, C., Savignac, H., Racine, H., Lavoie-Tremblay, M., & Wright, D. (2010). La rétention des infirmières en santé mentale, un incontournable! Vision infirmière en santé mentale, 24(1), 10-15.
  • Lavoie-Tremblay, M., Wright, D., Desforges N., & Drevniok U. (2008). Pression sur les recrues. Perspective Infirmière, 5(3), 31-32.
  • Lavoie-Tremblay, M., Wright, D., & Desforges, N. (2007). La rétention en début d’emploi : perspectives des nouvelles infirmières. Actualités Professionnelles, 30(2), 8-9.

Current Courses

  • NSG 6135 – Palliative / End-of-life care: An interprofessional approach (Graduate seminar)
  • NSG 6401 – Clinical Project in Advanced Nursing Practice (Graduate clinical course)
  • NSG 3127 – Nursing Professionalism and Ethics (Undergraduate theory course)
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