Groundbreaking RWJF-Funded Nursing Research

May 9, 2013, 9:00 AM

For National Nurses Week, the Human Capital Blog is highlighting some of the pioneering research covered on in the last few years. The nurse scientists who conducted this research are supported by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) through its nursing programs. The following are examples of the many nurses who have made groundbreaking discoveries in health care quality and innovation.

RWJF Nurse Faculty Scholars program alumna Maren Coffman, PhD, RN (2009-2011) is working to improve health literacy among Latinas with diabetes, a disease that affects Latinos more often than non-Hispanic Whites, so they can better manage their disease. Lack of access to health care for people with diabetes can be devastating, as high blood sugar can lead to vein damage, vision loss, kidney disease, amputation, stroke, and heart disease. Read about Coffman’s project.

RWJF Executive Nurse Fellows program alumna Keela Herr, PhD, RN, FAAN, (2007-2010) is exploring ways to ensure research she and others conducted is put into practice, so fewer seniors will suffer from untreated pain. Even though research is providing new information about how best to manage pain among older patients, many health providers have yet to put that information into practice. Read more about her work.

Maja Djukic, PhD, RN, an RWJF Nurse Faculty Scholar (2012-2014) and a researcher with the RWJF-supported RN Work Project, is seeking ways to improve patient care by improving nurses’ work environments. Studies have shown that the ratio of nurses to patients affects patient care, but hospitals aren’t always able to hire more nurses to increase ratios. Djukic found that hospital administrators can make a number of other workplace changes that will improve the environment for nurses and, at the same time, improve nurses’ ratings of quality patient care. Read about the study.

Jamie Kamailani Boyd, PhD, FNP-BC, RN, a 2011 recipient of an RWJF Community Health Leaders award, rose out of poverty via a career in nursing, and is now working to help other disadvantaged students do the same. She has created an academic program that helps native Hawaiians and other disadvantaged students become registered nurses. In addition to poverty reduction, her goals include diversifying the nursing workforce and improving the quality of nursing care by training more culturally competent providers. Read about her program.

 RWJF Nurse Faculty Scholar Terrah Foster, PhD, RN, CPNP, (2010-2012) is coming up with new ways to help alleviate emotional and psychological suffering in children with life-limiting or life-threatening illnesses. She is developing an intervention that will allow children with advanced cancer to create personalized videos to give to loved ones. Studies have shown that these kinds of “legacy” projects help adults cope with terminal disease, but there is little research into the benefits for children. Learn more about her project.

David Thompson, DNSc, MS, RN, is a 2006 grantee of the Interdisciplinary Nursing Quality Research Initiative, an RWJF-funded project that supports interdisciplinary research teams examining nurses’ practices, processes and work environments. Thompson is exploring ways to reduce bloodstream infections from central lines, the tubes inserted into patients’ veins that deliver fluids and medications. Last year, he published a study that found combining infection-prevention practices with a program to improve safety, teamwork, and communication can dramatically reduce infection rates. Read about the study.

This commentary originally appeared on the RWJF Human Capital Blog. The views and opinions expressed here are those of the authors.