Current research projects
Nurses and the Population’s Health
Principal investigator: Jeri L. Bigbee, Ph.D., R.N., F.N.P.-B.C., F.A.A.N.
Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing graduate-student researcher: Susan Perez, M.P.H.
Undergraduate research assistant: Lissette Jacobo
Funder: The National Council of State Boards of Nursing
Award: $92,743 | February 2012-September 2013
This research assesses whether the supply of registered nurses is associated with healthier communities. This question is critical because nurses make up the largest group of health professionals, but they are not distributed uniformly across the country and there is a shortage in the nursing workforce, particularly in rural areas. This study analyzes national data from all 50 states to answer questions including: whether higher nurse-to-population ratios are associated with better levels of population health, whether nurse education and professional licensure levels influence population health outcomes, and which population characteristics—such as socioeconomic factors—affect the relationship between the nurse-to-population ratio and health outcomes. This project has implications for nursing workforce planning and regulation.
Pilot: Implementing a Collaborative Incident Response Team to Foster Patient Safety and Reduce Medical Liability
Principal investigator: JoAnne E. Natale, M.D., Ph.D.
Co-investigators: Jill G. Joseph, M.D., Ph.D., M.P.H. and Deborah Ward, Ph.D., R.N., F.A.A.N.
Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing graduate-student researchers: Theresa Pak, R.N. and Tracy Nord, R.N.
Funders: University of California Office of the President and the UC Center for Health Quality and Innovation
Award: $163,000 (UC Office of the President) and $50,000 (UC Center for Health Quality and Innovation) | February 2012-January 2014 (UC Office of the President award)
This pilot project focuses on improving hospital response to unfavorable clinical incidents or errors through the use of an Interprofessional Collaborative Incident Response Team (I-CIRT) comprised of specially trained nurses, physicians, psychologists and hospital risk-management representatives. The study assesses the benefits of using I-CIRT to help frontline health-care staff discuss unanticipated health events with patients and their family; assist frontline staff to identify and meet their own need for support following such incidents; and collect information needed to respond to these incidents. The researchers expect that bringing trained, experienced professionals to the scene of an unanticipated health incident will improve safety and decrease liability claims. JoAnne Natale is a faculty member with the Nursing Science and Health-Care Leadership Graduate Group and the School of Medicine.
Organizational Commitment to Quality Improvement in Nursing Homes
Principal investigator: Elena O. Siegel, Ph.D., R.N.
Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing graduate-student researcher: Perry Gee, R.N., M.S.N.
Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing staff: Vanessa Santillan
Funder: Robert Wood Johnson Foundation
Award: $349,795 | September 2011-August 2014
The improvement of nursing home quality is an issue of growing importance in our aging society. Nursing home leadership teams are in critical positions to improve nursing home quality; yet, little is known about why some are more successful at improving quality than others. Using data collected from nursing home organizational documents and interviews with nursing home leaders—including owners, corporate executives, administrators, and directors of nursing—this study will examine the organizational factors that contribute to leaders’ decisions about which quality improvement projects are adopted and the strategies used to ensure successful implementation and sustainability of those initiatives. The long-term objective of this research is to enhance the capacity of nursing home leaders—and the organizations they serve—to improve the quality and value of care provided in our nation’s nursing homes.
Late-Life Depression Among Women: Socio-Cultural Factors Shaping Illness Experience and Help-Seeking Behaviors Among Latina, Caucasian and African-American Older Women
Principal investigator: Ester Carolina Apesoa-Varano, Ph.D.
Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing staff: Vanessa Santillan
Funder: Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing at UC Davis
There are significant knowledge gaps regarding late-life depression in women, especially in ethnic minorities, and these gaps pose barriers to improving depression care and wellness in older women. This research addresses some of these knowledge gaps. It explores how socio-cultural factors shape the experiences and ideas of depression among Latina, Caucasian and African-American women who are 60 to 80 years old. The study aims to identify how older women view the nature, seriousness and causes of their depression, examine their management of their depression, and describe their attitudes toward formal depression care. By investigating the interaction of gender, ethnicity, aging and social factors as they relate to depression care, this research will reduce health disparities and facilitate interventions and policies tailored to improving quality of life for affected individuals.
Interprofessional Pain Management Competency Program
Theme Leaders (principal investigators): Scott Fishman, M.D. and Heather Young, Ph.D., R.N., F.A.A.N.
Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing staff: Jennifer Mongoven
Funder: The Mayday Fund
Award: $300,000 | Date: June 2011-December 2014
The goal of the Interprofessional Pain Management Competency Program at UC Davis Health System is to create core competencies for learners that will ultimately change how health-care professionals respond to and manage pain care. The program seeks to address this issue by identifying core competencies in pain management for prelicensure clinical education that can serve as a framework in the development of comprehensive and effective pain care management curricula. The program has strengthened the interprofessional bond between the UC Davis School of Medicine and the Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing around pain control, interprofessional education and collaboration. The program lays the foundation for future efforts to expand pain management education for both students and clinical teams. Click here to visit the Interprofessional Pain Management Competency Program website.
iWHW: initiative for Wireless Health and Wellness at UC Davis
Theme leader (principal investigator): Jay Han, M.D.
Theme faculty (co-investigators): Lars Berglund, M.D., Ph.D.; Prasant Mohapatra, Ph.D.; Thomas Nesbitt, M.D., Ph.D.; Heather M. Young, Ph.D., R.N., F.A.A.N.
Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing staff: Sheridan Miyamoto, M.S.N., F.N.P.
Funder: Research Investments in Sciences and Engineering program, UC Davis Office of Research
Award: $866,000 | September 2012-August 2015
The initiative for Wireless Health and Wellness aims to develop mobile health (mHealth) and wireless technologies to empower individuals with chronic diseases to become active participants in their own well-being. These technologies have the potential to offer scalable and cost-effective health-care delivery methods that promote wellness and support preventive care. Initially, the project will focus on the use of smartphones and nurse health coaches to assess the medical status of individuals. This use has potential applications for conducting virtual “house calls” and supporting other digital interactions between individuals and caregivers. The project brings together UC Davis experts in telehealth, computer science, engineering, nursing, clinical translational research and disability research. This work will assess many of the issues related to broadening the use of mobile technologies in health care, including: technological barriers, usability, privacy and security, integration with electronic health records, methodologies for large data-set storage and analysis, as well as policy.
Latino Aging Research Resource Center
Director: Ladson Hinton, M.D.
Co-directors: Sergio Aguilar-Gaxiola, M.D., Ph.D. and Heather M. Young, Ph.D., R.N., F.A.A.N.
Funder: National Institute on Aging
Award: $3 million | July 2012-June 2017
This center, one of seven Resource Centers for Minority Aging Research in the nation, seeks to reduce disparities related to cognitive health and health care among older Latinos, a large and historically underserved population. The center has four core aims: to increase the size and diversity of the research workforce dedicated to cognitive health issues among Latinos; to increase the knowledge base related to cognitive health among older Latinos; to improve the recruitment and retention of older Latinos into cognitive health services; and to reduce health disparities for Latinos in California’s Central Valley through community engagement, research and information dissemination. This interdisciplinary center includes faculty from both the school of nursing and medicine. As one of the center’s co-directors, Associate Vice Chancellor and Dean Heather M. Young contributes leadership and scientific expertise to the center overall and facilitates connections among affiliated faculty, students and community members. School of Nursing Professor Mary Lou de Leon Siantz co-leads the section of the center related to the mentoring and development of scholars who work on Latino cognitive health issues. Assistant Professor Ester Carolina Apesoa-Varano conducts one of the center’s pilot research projects—a study to examine caregiver experiences, patient-health outcomes and Latina caregiver well-being.
Completed research projects
Before, During and Between: Identifying African-American Women at High Psychosocial Risk for Poor Birth Outcomes
Principal investigators: Lars Berglund, M.D., Ph.D. and Jann Murray-Garcia, M.D., M.P.H.
Funder: National Center for Research Resources
Award: $10,000 | September 2011-December 2012
The U.S. infant mortality rate among African-Americans continues to be more than twice as high as that among Caucasians. These racial disparities in infant mortality rates are driven by higher rates of preterm and low birth-weight infants born to African-American mothers. This comparative pilot study examined the influence of psychosocial stressors—such as adverse childhood events, perceived discrimination and perceptions of one’s relative status in the social hierarchy—on birth outcomes such as preterm birth, low birth weight and very low birth weight among African-American women. The study seeks to demonstrate the usefulness of a new psychosocial assessment instrument to predict poor birth outcomes. The long-term goal is to develop a tool that can identify African-American women who are at high risk for substandard birth outcomes because of potentially harmful stressors.
Influence of Social Support and Networks on Caregiver Mental and Physical Health
Principal investigator: Heather M. Young, Ph.D., R.N., F.A.A.N. and Ladson Hinton, M.D.
Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing staff: Tara Sharpp, Ph.D., R.N.
Funder: National Institute of Aging and the UC Davis Alzheimer's Disease Research Center
Award: $39,881 | July 2010-August 2011
This study examined the social networks of those caring for persons with Alzheimer’s disease, and the relationship between the caregivers’ social support and social networks and their mental and physical health. Professor Heather M. Young and Ladson Hinton, director of the Education Core of the UC Davis Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center, led an interdisciplinary team of researchers from nursing, psychiatry and communications departments at UC Davis in this one-year pilot study. In this limited sample, there was a significant prevalence of depressive symptoms among caregivers, with one-third of the caregivers screening positive for depression. This has clinical implications for their long-term mental health and capacity to deliver care during a long-term, progressive neuropsychiatric illness. Another important finding was that caregivers reported a lack of tangible social support, which correlated significantly with a decrease in cognitive abilities among those they were caring for.
Exploring the Management and Administrative Roles of Directors of Nursing Positions in Nursing Homes
Principal investigator: Elena Siegel, Ph.D., R.N.
Funder: American Nurses Foundation
Award: $3,485 | July 2010-August 2011
Recurrent reports of poor quality care in nursing homes and high rates of turnover among staff suggest a health-care sector in crisis. Within nursing homes, the director of nursing position is of particular interest, given these directors’ overarching responsibility for the administration and management of nursing services. However, the educational backgrounds of the majority of nursing home directors do not support this complex responsibility, especially its non-clinical aspects. This research explored the management and administrative roles of directors of nursing in nursing homes—specifically, their actual and ideal involvement in the management and administrative aspects of nursing services. The long-term goal of this research is to increase the capacity of nursing management teams who are charged with the organization and delivery of nursing home care.
Increasing Rural Community Engagement in Telehealth Research: Improving Health in Diabetes
Principal investigator: Heather M. Young, Ph.D., R.N., F.A.A.N. and Lars Berglund, M.D., Ph.D.
Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing graduate-student researchers: Deborah Greenwood, R.N., M.Ed. and Frances Patmon, R.N., M.S.N.
Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing staff: Sheridan Miyamoto, M.S.N., F.P.N. and Vanessa Santillan
Funder: National Center for Research Resources
Award: $599,019 | September 2009-September 2011
Diabetes is a growing public health concern, and effective management must include lifestyle and behavioral changes. In underserved communities, where the prevalence of diabetes is higher and resources are less accessible, improving health for individuals with diabetes calls for community outreach and interdisciplinary approaches. The study was a randomized controlled trial of a telehealth intervention with nurses serving as health coaches compared to usual care. Health coaching took place in participants’ homes using telephone or video technology. The research demonstrated increased self-efficacy and improved goal setting among individuals who received the telehealth intervention, and supported the feasibility and acceptability of this approach for rural adults with chronic illness.
Nurse-Led Intervention to Facilitate Patient Activation for Improved Pain Self-Management
Principal investigator: Deborah Ward, Ph.D., R.N., F.A.A.N.
Funder: Robert Wood Johnson Foundation
Award: $300,000 | September 2009-August 2011
This study evaluated a counseling intervention designed to support individuals to self-manage their pain after surgery. Study participants were individuals undergoing spine and neck surgery at UC Davis Spine Center. Nurses in this setting play a key role in presurgical screening and postsurgical pain management consultations, working in collaboration with physicians, clinical psychologists and other health colleagues. This study was in part a response to the observations of nurse leaders at the spine center, who saw a need for an intervention to encourage patients’ active participation in their recovery after surgery. Patient self-management tools and resources, funded in part by this grant, may be found here. This website provides a guide for those who have chronic pain and for health professionals interested in motivating clients to self-manage chronic pain. This grant was one of six projects funded in the last phase of the Interdisciplinary Nursing Quality Research Initiative grant solicitation. Click here to be directed to the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Interdisciplinary Nursing Quality Research Initiative website to find more information about all the projects and view a highlight video. The video includes a feature about this project approximately five and a half minutes into the 15-minute production.