Niki Kiepek – BSc, MSc(OT), PhD
Associate Professor, School of Occupational Therapy, Dalhousie University


In my research, I strive to 'untangle knowledge' by exploring underlying assumptions, values, and worldviews. As an occupational scientist, I examine how certain activities become more or less social sanctioned and uncover diverse meanings and experiences. My main area of study is substance use (licit, illicit, and prescribe) and I provide equal opportunity for people to share beneficial and adverse experiences. I use diverse methods, such as interviews, surveys, photo elicitation, critical discourse analysis, and ecological momentary assessment.

I collaborate with co-researchers, student trainees, and citizen researchers to explore diverse topics:

  • Gendered meanings and experiences of substance use
  • Personal experiences when accessing addiction services in Atlantic Canada
  • Experiences of medical management of lower back pain
  • Substance use and addiction in the scope of occupation therapy
  • Psychotherapy in the scope of occupational therapy
  • Design of simulations to teach clinical competencies

Theoretical approaches

My research tends to be informed by social constructionism and hermeneutics. I seek to understand how some ideas and perspectives become authoritative and legitimate, while others are absent or silenced. I attempt to frame my understandings by drawing on anti-oppressive, anti-racist, and decolonising approaches.

Research topics

  • Beneficial and non-problematic substance use
  • Addiction
  • Harm reduction
  • Decriminalization
  • Social sanctioning of occupation (i.e., activity)


I draw on various methods of inquiry:

  • Narrative interviews
  • Surveys
  • Photo elicitation
  • Critical discourse analysis
  • Ecological momentary assessment
  • Knowledge synthesis
  • Health record review