Faculty in the School of Nursing are involved in numerous local, regional, national and international research studies. They are often leaders of and/or partners in interdisciplinary research teams and use acute care, community and classroom settings as their “research labs.”

Whether focused on Health Promotion & Risk Reduction across the Lifespan, Health Systems Management, Policy & Education or Management of Chronic Conditions, these investigators improve the lives of others.

Health Promotion & Risk Reduction across the Lifespan
  • Karen Avino, EdD, RN, AHN-BC, HWNC-BC is currently conducting a study on “The Effect of the Integrative Nurse Coach Certificate Program on Self-Development and Mindfulness in Registered Nurse Participants”. Self-Development activities such as mindfulness practice will allow for focus on individual goal setting to maximize their human potential. Administering pre- test, post-test and one year out survey tools will compare participants over time for improvement in mindfulness and health and wellness perceptions.
  • Kathleen Brewer-Smyth is conducting secondary analyses of data sets mostly from prison studies. Her research focus is neurological, neuroendocrine, and neuropsychological correlates of high risk behaviors of women with emphasis on childhood abuse, traumatic brain injury, and violent crime. Data sets include those collected by her as principal investigator and a study on which she was co-investigator funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Injury Prevention and Control U49 CE001318.
  • Evelyn Hayes is conducting a study, Peer Art: Dissemination of Anti-Smoking Messages III, funded by the American Lung Association of Delaware The number of young adults smoking continues to grow even though messages of prevention have been heard in public schools for more than a decade. In response to what 18-24 year olds indicated as an effective strategy to influence the cohort’s tobacco use decisions, ie “show me, tell me” the ill effects of tobacco use, developed a state-wide poster competition to address this issue. The goal is to develop effective strategies to decrease smoking in the 18-24 age group by exposing students in higher education to information and increase awareness of benefits of non-smoking and the ill effects of tobacco use, as well as to determine the influence of the anti-smoking program on tobacco use decision making. Also, latest endeavor is the creation of DANTE(Delawareans Against Nicotine and Tobacco Exposure) website in collaboration with colleague in Graphic Design promoting the good, clean, robust, joyful life of not smoking.
  • Judith Herrman has been conducting and/or consulting on several studies as noted below:
    1. Wise Guys
      Efforts to promote responsible sexual behavior in teens have largely focused on young women. Wise Guys is one of the few programs designed to focus specifically on enhancing the sexual health and healthy behaviors in teen males. Pilot funding from the Delaware ACCEL Clinical and Translational Research Program, working with colleagues from University of Delaware and Christiana Care Health Systems, allowed for a novel, mixed-methods research study. In a community participatory research style, young men inform the research process including online surveys using REDCap and mobile phone technologies, focus groups, and a Video Journaling Project where young men use technology to evaluate the impact of Wise Guys on their lives.
    2. Safe Dates for Young Mothers
      Participation as a Consultant in an NIH funded (R21) grant with RTI, Inc. affords Dr. Herrman the opportunity to continue work on the Safe Dates project. This two year project, with colleagues from RTI and Penn State, allows for the conduct of a comprehensive review of the literature about intimate partner violence (IPV) and pregnant and parenting teens, focus groups with young mothers and fathers about IPV, adaptation of the Safe Dates curriculum for the unique needs of young parents based on a theoretical approach, and a randomized, control group pilot study of the curriculum. This work builds on the feasibility study conducted by Dr. Herrman and Dr. Waterhouse.
    3. Nothing About Us, Without Us
      This project involves youth in community participatory research to assess health needs and priorities in their high schools and allows them to explore implementation projects to enhance the health in their classmates. Current efforts include polling stakeholders about program development, seeking funding for research and program elements, and researching local and national efforts in building Youth Advisory Councils.
    4. Teen Perceptions of sexual activity and safe sexual practices
      Delaware youth report some of the highest rates of teen sexual activity in the nation. Funding from Senator Cathy Cloutier provided the means to conduct eleven focus groups throughout the state. Teens were asked about their reactions to this data, their thoughts on teen sexual activity, and the supports and challenges that teens confront as they attempt to practice safe sexual behaviors. The data from this study are currently being analyzed for policy and practice implications and will be disseminated to promote safe, healthy sexual behavior in teens.
  • Paula Klemm, Professor in the SON, and Veronica Rempusheski, the Jeanne K. Buxbaum Chair of Nursing Science, teamed with the Cancer Care Connection (CCC) and the Christiana Care Center for Outcomes Research (CCOR) to conduct a two-year, $600,000 NIH grant aimed at supporting older adults affected by cancer and their caregivers in Delaware. Results indicated that the major reasons for calls to the cancer telephone helpline were: financial assistance, helpline services information, coping assistance, support groups, and questions related to treatment. Four of the top five reasons were non-treatment related (i.e., financial issues, helpline services information, coping, and support). The nature of calls to the helpline suggested that the financial and psychosocial needs of people with cancer are not being addressed by healthcare providers. The new “normal” for cancer care includes decisions about complex care coupled with new regulatory and financial constraints. This underscores the importance of focused planning of cancer care across multiple care settings in order to ensure continuity of care for the whole person. Additional analysis is being conducted on the data to examine caller satisfaction with the Cancer helpline and the development of a model for community outreach.
  • Veronica Rempusheski has partnered with six non-profit agencies to implement the Administration on Aging-funded project, Support for Independent Living and a Vital and Energetic Retirement (SILVER). The expected outcomes of this project consists of the following:
    1. older adults will have awareness of and access to the supportive services needed to age in place;
    2. older adults will report feeling supported by their community;
    3. the community will have awareness and understanding of the needs of older adult residents; and
    4. the community will provide support to older adult residents, assist older adults to age-in-place, build elder-friendly communities. One component of SILVER completed by Dr. Rempusheski and her Buxbaum scholars is a community mapping of services and resources for the elderly in Delaware.
Health Systems Management, Policy & Education
  • Amy Cowperthwait MSN, RN BC-ACNS and Amy Bucha MS received a grant from the Center for Applied Technology, Office of Economic Innovation and Partnership, and College of Health Science for the research and development of wearable technology that can be used in health care simulation. For this project, nursing, engineering and Healthcare Theatre students collaborate on the prototype development and conduct studies on the prototypes to evaluate the technology’s impact on simulation learning. With one product in beta testing phase, the business students have joined the team and are researching market segments, sales strategies, and pricing packages for the wearable technology.Amy has also lead several research projects in the Simulation Resource Center. One pilot study evaluated the effect of stress using cortisol and alpha amylase on student success in the simulation program. This study concluded that a moderate amount of stress for simulation results in best outcomes. As a result of the stress in simulation study, Amy collected data over a three year period to uncover the optimal educational practices that will elicit maximum learning impact for four diversity simulations that have been incorporated into sophomore course work. Because simulation fosters a perfect environment for interprofessional education, Amy has collaborated with several colleagues with in the university and affiliates in the Delaware Health Science Alliance to uncover best practice, student attitudes toward other professions, and faculty evaluation tools.
  • Cynthia Diefenbeck, Associate Professor, Paula Klemm, Professor, andPia Inguito, Undergraduate Program Director, were awarded a three-year, $1,000,000 HRSA grant in 2014 designed to increase nursing workforce diversity in Delaware. The grant team has initiated an innovative, comprehensive, and evidenced-based recruitment and retention model designed to increase the diversity of the nursing student body (and thus, the nursing workforce) and directly address public health disparities in Delaware. Based on the SDH framework and its underlying principles, the program was conceived with a conscious awareness that diversity can only be fully cultivated when the highest levels of power and leadership at the university actively articulate and demonstrate articulate support.
Management of Chronic Conditions
  • Ingrid Pretzer-Aboff’s research revolves around function-focused care interventions that help individuals with Parkinson’s disease (PD) function as independently as possible. Active research projects include:
  1. Longitudinal study tracking motor and non-motor symptoms in people with Parkinson’s disease
  2. Longitudinal study tracking the impact of Parkinson’s on family caregivers
  3. Assessment of mobility of people with Parkinson disease using an instrumented insole (SEnsole) in the community setting
  4. Use of vibration to treat Parkinson’s motor symptoms (freezing of gait)
  • Barbara Habermann, PhD, RN, FAAN, Nannie Longfellow Professor of Nursing School of Nursing, focuses on improving the quality of life and end-of-life care for persons and their family members living with chronic, progressive neurologic illness, particularly persons with Parkinson’s Disease.
  • Emily Hauenstein, PhD, LCP, RN, FAAN, Unidel Katherine L. Esterly Chair in Health Sciences and Associate Dean for Nursing& Healthcare Innovation, researches health disparities with a specific emphasis on the causes and treatment of major depressive disorder among disadvantaged women.
  • Evelyn Hayes also collaborated with another veteran and nurse colleagues on a pilot research study, Veterans Stories at Life’s End, funded by Delaware Hospice Inc. Military service is often expressed by veterans as one of the major sentinel events affecting life’s purpose and meaning. The purpose is to illustrate the meaning of veterans sharing their military story at life end and the impact on life’s satisfaction as perceived by veteran and his/her primary caregiver. Military veterans may have unique stressors because they may have experienced the horrors of combat or duty assignments aligned with war efforts. There is a need to manage these stressors to achieve a level of personal satisfaction in remaining life. Military service and stress are global phenomenon and cut across culture and economic strata. The study findings will contribute information to guide end-of-life care for veterans.
  • Paula Klemm, Evelyn Hayes, and Cynthia Diefenbeck have published the results of a research study (funded by the American Nurses Foundation) to compare the effects of two types of online interventions on psychosocial outcomes for family caregivers of people with chronic disease. Family (informal) caregivers of people with chronic disease were provided with 12 weeks of moderated online support or 12 weeks of peer-led support. The purpose of the study was to provide tangible online support and interactions to family caregivers and to better understand the demands placed on these individuals. Results indicated that the type of online support may not be as important as the support itself. Participants who participated in either type of online support reported better outcomes that those who did not participate. The researchers have also conducted secondary analysis of these data. Preliminary results indicate that Yalom’s therapeutic factors are present in peer-led online caregiver support groups. Further analysis is underway to evaluate whether Yalom’s therapeutic factors are also present in moderated (professionally facilitated) online groups and how these may differ from peer-led online support.
  • Jennifer Saylor’s research involves college students with type one diabetes using the socio-ecological model. As young adults with type 1 diabetes transition to campus living, they may experiences barriers affecting proper management of blood glucose levels. This trajectory may lead to cardiovascular complications. Dr. Saylor collaborates with the Department of Endocrinology and Director of Innovation and Research for Patient Services at Nemours Alfred I DuPont Hospital for Children to identify the barriers and supports associated with the unpredictability of campus living, especially during the freshman year at a university.
  • Kathleen Schell conducts research on cardiovascular assessment including those factors that affect accuracy of blood pressure measurements.
  • Ju Young Shin, PhD, APRN, ANP-C has focused her research on self-care and management of chronic diseases such as cardiovascular diseases and Parkinson’s disease (PD). It has also been influenced by my interest in primary care for older adults. My current research interest is primarily symptom management in people with PD, including pharmacological and non-pharmacological approaches. Currently I am exploring the use of complementary and alternative medicine for self-management in people with PD.