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School of Nursing




Faculty & Staff


Giving Opportunities

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
    Get Real Students
  • Dr. Judith Herrman received a grant from Sigma Theta Tau International to plan and implement the Young Women Get REAL Program. Nursing students provided peer education to teens in juvenile detention facilities using the Power Through Choices curriculum, a decision-making program designed for youth in out-of-home care. Content on reproductive anatomy and physiology and the realities of teen parenting amplified the curriculum to provide a comprehensive experience for four groups of teens. Thirty-three young women participated in the program and data is currently being analyzed to determine program effectiveness in promoting more realistic perceptions of the teen parenting experience and to encourage responsible sexual behavior. Dr. Julie Waterhouse, PhD, RN is the data analyst for this project.
  • Girls’ perceptions of violence
    The number of girls who are adjudicated for community and domestic violence has tripled in Delaware since the 1980’s. In an effort to explore this increase and to discover girls’ perceptions of violence, Dr. Judy Herrman conducted focus groups with teen women in the City of Wilmington who have been exposed to, victims of, or perpetrators of violence. Thirty-two young women participated in four focus groups held in March to April 2011. The data was reviewed using qualitative analysis techniques and seven themes emerged from the data. They were: Violence is Learned, Violence is Contagious, Violence is Unstoppable, Violence is Necessary to Manage Stress and Conflict, Violence is Belonging, Violence is Connected to other Crime, and Maybe it can be stopped. These themes, additional data, and the girls own words will be presented to law enforcement, family court, social services, and state advocates. It is hoped that the analysis of girls’ perceptions about crime in Delaware may provide a foundation for prevention efforts.
  • 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. The purpose of this project is to determine the impact of the Wise Guys Program on the perceptions of teen group participants. The Wise Guys program was conducted throughout the State of Delaware to promote responsible sexual behavior among adolescent men. The program addresses such issues as values, masculinity, sexuality, dating violence, abstinence and contraception, sexually transmitted diseases, goal-setting, decision-making, and parenthood. Through ten educational sessions, this initiative attempts to foster resistance skills, build self-esteem, and enhance attitudes toward healthy sexual behaviors. Dr. Herrman and Christopher Moore, a colleague from Christiana Care, are using a pre/post-test design to assess how effective this program is in changing young men’s attitudes about the realities of teen parenting.
  • Safe Dates for Young Mothers
    Interpersonal violence among pregnant teens and young mothers is significantly higher than other women. Funding from the American Association of University Women Community Action Grant Foundation will allow for the planning and implementation of Safe Dates, a teen dating violence curriculum. Preliminary work will include adapting the curriculum for the unique needs of pregnant and parenting teen women, conducting focus groups with young mothers, creating an evaluation instrument, and training nursing students to conduct the curriculum. The Delaware Adolescent Program Inc., a school program expressly for young mothers, has three sites in Delaware and will each host a Safe Dates program in year two of the grant. Dr. Judith W. Herrman, PhD, RN, ANEF is the principal investigator for this project.
  • Girls in detention: Their perceptions of transition to home after incarceration
    Dr. Herrman and community colleagues received funding to conduct focus groups and interviews with young women who are incarcerated. The objectives of these studies are to determine the supports and challenges experienced by young women transitioning to home after being incarcerated. By assessing the hurdles young women face when trying to carry on lessons learned during rehabilitation and their reaching toward their goals, we hope to help teen women be even more successful at staying out of trouble and to become productive and happy citizens.

    Evaluating the provision of reproductive health services by school-based health centers in Delaware Funding through the Health Division of Public Health enabled Dr. Herrman to conduct interviews throughout the state about perceptions of the provision of reproductive health services by the school-based health centers in high schools. Delaware has some of the highest teen sexual activity rates in the nation with high STI and pregnancy rates. One way to address these rates is to provide contraception in the wellness centers, although the issue is somewhat controversial. This study was designed to clarify issues and determine controversial factors in order to inform policy and practice.
  • Dr. Paula Klemm, Assistant Director of the SON, and Dr. Veronica Rempusheski, the Jeanne K. Buxbaum Chair of Nursing Science, are teamed with the Cancer Care Connection (CCC) and the Christiana Care Center for Outcomes Research (CCOR) were awarded a two-year, $600,000 NIH grant to conduct research aimed at supporting older adults affected by cancer and their caregivers in Delaware. The funding will support the development of an outreach program to inform the community about resources available to those with cancer, specifically older adults. The goal of the cancer project is to create a nationwide model for outreach to older adults in communities all over the United States. Ultimately, access to services through organizations like the CCC may reduce health care costs.
  • Dr. 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.
  • Dr. Kathleen Brewer-Smyth is conducting secondary analysis of existing data sets she gathered in the prison system. Her research is related to neurological, neuroendocrine, and neuropsychological correlates of high risk behaviors in women. Currently she is investigating the dietary and environmental influences on brain and behavior.
  • Dr. Brewer-Smyth is also conducting a secondary analysis of data collected while she served on the Technical Oversight Committee of a large study funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Injury Prevention and Control U49 CE001318 to the Medical University of South Carolina.

    This project investigates the impact of traumatic brain injury (TBI) among incarcerated persons. Dr Brewer-Smyth’s secondary analysis is evaluating relationships between childhood abuse, traumatic brain injury, violent crime, and related variables.
  • Dr. 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.
Health Systems Management, Policy & Education
  • Dr. Cynthia Diefenbeck is conducting a year-long study with sociology professor, Barret Michalec, PhD, exploring the potential changes in attitudes and perceptions of undergraduate nursing students as they progress through an academic year.
  • Karen Avino, EdD, MSN, RN, AHN-BC received funding from the Wilmington Veteran’s Administration Medical Center to conduct a study on “A Comparison of Face-to-Face vs. Intranet Mandatory Training Outcomes”. Funding was received through the Human Resource Committee of the Veteran’s Health Administration National Leadership Board. The sample population is all hospital employees in clinical or non-clinical roles. Program satisfaction and content learned will be measured using quantitative tools. Application to job and perceived value and/or barriers will be evaluated from focus group qualitative data. Post fiscal year follow up will include impact on the organization comparing patient safety, infection control and violence data on a per unit level to determine return on investment, and quality of care improvements within the organization.
Management of Chronic Conditions
  • Dr. Ingrid Pretzer-Aboff’s research revolves around the development and testing of function focused care interventions and exercise programs that help neuro-compromised adults function as independently as possible in their community setting. Active research projects include the development and testing a community exercise program for people living with Parkinson’s disease and stroke survivors, evaluation of an Italian model of the Adapted Physical Activity program in Tuscany for people who have Parkinson’s disease, and the testing of various objective measures of function.
  • Christiana Care BP
  • Dr. Kathleen Schell is conducting several clinical studies at major medical centers in Delaware. She is collaborating with exercise science faculty and cardiologists to identify anatomical determinants of forearm and upper arm oscillometric blood pressure differences in patients undergoing non-emergent cardiac catheterization. She is also involved in two studies with Bayhealth Medical Center nurses to investigate the prevalence of bleeding events in myocardial infarction patients receiving anticoagulants and to evaluate the need for post-study nursing assessments and cardiovascular monitoring of patients undergoing coronary computed tomography angiography (CCTA). She has partnered with a Christiana Health Care nurse to study the effect of gum chewing on postoperative bowel recovery of patients following colon resection. Dr. Julie Waterhouse is the statistician for several of these studies.
  • Dr. Paula Klemm and Dr. Evelyn Hayes are conducting 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 are provided with 12 weeks of moderated online support or 12 weeks of peer-led support. The purpose of the study is to provide tangible online support and interactions to family caregivers and to better understand the demands placed on these individuals. This study will provide important information to guide healthcare decision making that affects both caregivers and patients with chronic disease.
  • Dr. Evelyn Hayes is collaborating 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.

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