University of Delaware
Prof. Judy Herrman shares the results of her focus group study on girls’ perceptions of violence and its prevention.

Better nursing through research

Conference enables clinicians to share research and evidence-based practice


11:37 a.m., Nov. 7, 2011--Does open visitation in the ICU help or hinder recovery?  Can an oral care program reduce the incidence of ventilator-associated pneumonia in kids? What is the relationship between cognitive function and weight maintenance in heart failure patients?

Clinician researchers shared the results of studies addressing these and other questions at Advancing Nursing: Developing Excellence in Evidence-Based Practice and Research, a conference held at the Ammon Medical Education Center on the Christiana Hospital Campus on Friday, Nov. 3. Close to 150 people turned out for the event, including a large contingent from the University of Delaware

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“The exciting thing about this conference is that it involves research being done by nurses working at the bedside to improve patient outcomes,” said Wayne Voelmeck, assistant professor in UD’s School of Nursing and a member of the conference planning committee. 

Keynote speaker Marianne Chulay, a nationally recognized consultant in clinical research and critical care, shared her insights on strategies for success. “While we want clinicians to do research,” she said, “we have to guide them in that process. Clinical practice questions often focus on issues that might not be addressed by academic research, but they are important to managing patient care.”

Leaders need to be proactive in forming teams, helping clinician researchers identify appropriate topics and providing mentoring. Teams should be empowered to select research topics based on their own interests rather than on organizational interests, she said, and data collection needs to be integrated into practice routines. Many hospitals now hire Ph.D.-prepared nurse research facilitators to lead these teams. 

Judy Herrman, associate professor in the UD School of Nursing and member of the program committee, delivered a talk on girls’ perceptions of violence and its prevention. “I think we need to reframe violence as a public health issue warranting nursing intervention,” she said. 

Herrman’s focus group study is rare in that she seeks perceptions of violence from teen girls themselves rather than from the adults in their homes and communities.  “Gathering young women’s perceptions about their experiences with violence is a critical element in designing prevention policies and programs,” she said.

Talks and posters addressed a broad range of issues including quality of life for cancer patients, compassion fatigue, the effect of human milk on health, childhood obesity and cardiovascular disease, and the business aspects of evidence-based practice programs.

UD contributions included the following abstracts:

  • "The Psychological and Physiological Effects of Open Patient Visitation in the ICU," Erlinda Wheeler, Melissa van Twuyver, Emily Rinedoller, Katherine Potter, and Kristyna Jones.
  • "The Impact of Gum Chewing on Postoperative Recovery in Colorectal Patients," Kathleen Schell and Julie Waterhouse with Elizabeth Haley, Christiana Care Health System.
  • "The Significance of Depression and Obesity as Comorbidities of Diabetes," Erlinda Wheeler, Gina Palladinetti and Frances Rueda.
  • "Utilizing National Databases for Research," Jennifer Saylor and Erika Friedman.

“This conference demonstrated just how involved nursing is in research,” said Kathleen Schell, interim director of the UD School of Nursing.  “Our nursing students often interface with these clinicians to participate in some aspect of ongoing studies at Christiana and Nemours. Several of our faculty have mentored nurse research apprentices—staff nurses with clinical questions who learn the steps of the research process while carrying out their first study. The academic-practice connection is integral to meaningful, quality research.” 

About the conference

The conference was sponsored by Christiana Care Health System, Jefferson School of Nursing and Thomas Jefferson University Hospital, Nemours/Alfred I. duPont Hospital for Children, the University of Delaware School of Nursing, and the TJU and UD Chapters of Sigma Theta Tau International.

Article by Diane Kukich

Photos by Doug Baker

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