Global scholar builds knowledge mobilization skills at Brock

Willian Dullius is passionate about offering equitable health care to the Two-Spirit, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (2SLGBTQ+) community — and is looking to Brock University for new ways to educate and share his research with health-care practitioners.

The Nursing instructor and Gerontology PhD candidate from Universidade de Passo Fundo in Brazil is halfway through a six-month placement at Brock as part of the University’s Visiting International Scholar program. He is working closely with Associate Professor of Nursing Sheila O’Keefe-McCarthy to learn about innovative knowledge mobilization tools that will help him more effectively share his research on human aging and health care for the 2SLGBTQ+ community.

A portrait of Willian Dullius in front of a brick wall.

Visiting International Scholar Willian Dullius.

This is the third time Dullius has come to Brock as part of an international opportunity. In 2014, he spent six months on an international student exchange as an undergraduate Nursing student. In 2018, he spent six months working on his master’s research under the supervision of Brock Nursing Professor Lynn McCleary with financial support from the Canadian government’s Emerging Leaders in the Americas Program (ELAP). Funding for his undergraduate and PhD international experiences came from travel grants provided by Brazil’s Ministry of Education.

During his master’s work, Dullius learned there is a lack of evidence-informed continuing education available to health-care practitioners in Brazil about delivering health care to 2SLGBTQ+ people. In response to this gap, he developed an online continuing education course for health-care students and practitioners that addresses human sexuality, equitable care, terminology, cultural skills, public health policy, mental health, aging and health care as they relate to Brazil’s 2SLGBTQ+ population.

“Individuals who feel marginalized or stigmatized may not reveal their sexual identity to health-care practitioners for fear of receiving inequitable care or, even worse, they may not seek health-care assistance at all,” Dullius said. “This course is a small step towards educating health-care practitioners and making health care more welcoming and humanized for the 2SLGBTQ+ community.”

With the continuing education course up and running, Dullius is now looking for new ways to educate and share his knowledge with health-care professionals. He was attracted to O’Keefe-McCarthy’s work in using theatre, poetry, songs, painting and other art forms to communicate health research.

“Art can share information in an impactful way that’s very accessible,” she said. “It can spark meaningful, reflective and healing conversations that can lead to equitable changes in education, culture, policy and health-care delivery.”

O’Keefe-McCarthy collaborated with Dullius on commissioning an oil painting by third-year Nursing student H. Logan Michaelson called ‘Martyrdom’ that reflects the impact of discrimination, a major theme of Dullius’ work.

“Will’s research illustrates that 2SLGBTQ+ people feel invisible because their sexual and gender identities are not recognized or respected by others,” said O’Keefe-McCarthy. “The individuals within the study described not being able to live freely as a 2SLGBTQ+ person and had to hide or deny their own identity to obtain equitable access to health care. This picture depicts what participants described as living a non-life — a martyr-like existence.”

The pair is also conducting a secondary arts-based analysis of Dullius’ doctoral study, which involves analyzing qualitative data from 2SLGBTQ+ people and interpreting the findings through poetry. They have written five free-verse poems that include words taken verbatim from the data on themes of discrimination, the intersectionality involved in the 2SLGBTQ+ life and hope for the future.

The poems will be used to create art pieces that will be part of an exhibit Dullius and O’Keefe-McCarthy are planning for the new year.

Over the next three remaining months of his visit, Dullius will be working alongside O’Keefe-McCarthy and Health Sciences Assistant Professor Valerie Michaelson on research using participatory theatre to disrupt discrimination in health care.

Dullius has also contributed to the Brock Nursing community by speaking at guest lectures and sharing with students some of the cultural and health-care policy differences between Brazil and Canada.

“Will has added great value to Brock’s teaching, learning and research,” said O’Keefe-McCarthy. “He brings an international perspective and diverse experiences in health care, education and research.”

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