Recent Research Publications and Funding

  •  | March 20, 2017 3:00AM

    Background: The wide variety of dissemination and implementation designs now being used to evaluate and improve health systems and outcomes warrants review of the scope, features, and limitations of these designs. Methods: This paper is one product of a design workgroup formed in 2013 by the National Institutes of Health to address dissemination and implementation research, and whose members represented diverse methodologic backgrounds, content focus areas, and health sectors. These experts integrated their collective knowledge on dissemination and implementation designs with searches of published evaluations strategies. Results: This paper emphasizes randomized and non-randomized designs for the traditional translational research continuum or pipeline, which builds on existing efficacy and effectiveness trials to examine how one or more evidence-based clinical/prevention interventions are adopted, scaled up, and sustained in community or service delivery systems. We also mention other designs, including hybrid designs that combine effectiveness and implementation research, quality improvement designs for local knowledge, and designs that use simulation modeling.

  •  | January 1, 2017 5:00AM

    BACKGROUND: Although nurses are the most likely first responders to witness an in-hospital cardiac arrest (IHCA) and provide treatment, little research has been undertaken to determine what features of nursing are related to cardiac arrest outcomes.

    OBJECTIVES: To determine the association between nurse staffing, nurse work environments, and IHCA survival.

    RESEARCH DESIGN: Cross-sectional study of data from: (1) the American Heart Association's Get With The Guidelines-Resuscitation database; (2) the University of Pennsylvania Multi-State Nursing Care and and Patient Safety; and (3) the American Hospital Association annual survey. Logistic regression models were used to determine the association of the features of nursing and IHCA survival to discharge after adjusting for hospital and patient characteristics.

    SUBJECTS: A total of 11,160 adult patients aged 18 and older between 2005 and 2007 in 75 hospitals in 4 states (Pennsylvania, Florida, California, and New Jersey).

    RESULTS: Each additional patient per nurse on medical-surgical units was associated with a 5% lower likelihood of surviving IHCA to discharge (odds ratio=0.95; 95% confidence interval, 0.91-0.99). Further, patients cared for in hospitals with poor work environments had a 16% lower likelihood of IHCA survival (odds ratio=0.84; 95% confidence interval, 0.71-0.99) than patients cared for in hospitals with better work environments.

    CONCLUSIONS: Better work environments and decreased patient-to-nurse ratios on medical-surgical units are associated with higher odds of patient survival after an IHCA. These results add to a large body of literature suggesting that outcomes are better when nurses have a more reasonable workload and work in good hospital work environments. Improving nurse working conditions holds promise for improving survival following IHCA.

  •  | November 1, 2016 3:00AM

    OBJECTIVES: The purpose of this study was to identify unique practices underway in communities that have been empirically identified as having achieved exceptional maternal and child health (MCH) outcomes compared with their peers.

    METHODS: We used a qualitative, positive deviance approach to identify practices implemented by local health department (LHD) jurisdictions in Florida, Washington, and New York that achieved better MCH outcomes than expected compared with their in-state peer jurisdictions. We identified a total of 50 LHDs in jurisdictions that had better than expected MCH outcomes compared with their peers, and we conducted 39 hour-long semistructured interviews with LHD staff. We conducted inductive thematic analysis to identify key themes and subthemes across all LHD cases in the sample.

    RESULTS: Partnerships with providers, partnerships for data collection/assessment, and partnerships with community-based organizations were associated with exceptional MCH outcomes based on our interviews.

    DISCUSSION: This study offers specific examples of practices LHDs can implement to improve MCH outcomes, even with limited resources, based on the practices of high-performing local health jurisdictions.

  •  | October 31, 2016 3:00AM

    Objective: Trauma exposure can precipitate acute/post-traumatic stress responses (AS/PTSD) and disabling cardiovascular disorders (CVD). Identifying acute stress-related physiologic changes that may increase CVD risk could inform development of early CVD-prevention strategies. The endocannabinoid system (ECS) regulates hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis response and stress-related cardiovascular function. We examine stress-related endocannabinoid system (ECS) activity and its association with cardiovascular biochemistry/function following acute stress.

    Methods: Rodents (n=8-16/group) were exposed to predator odor or saline; elevated plus maze (EPM), blood pressure (BP), serum and cardiac tissue ECS markers, and lipid metabolism were assessed at 24h and 2wks post-exposure.

    Results: At 24h the predator odor group demonstrated anxiety-like behavior and had (a) elevated serum markers of cardiac failure/damage (brain natriuretic peptide [BNP]: 275.1 vs. 234.6, p=0.007; troponin-I: 1.50 vs. 0.78, p=0.076), lipogenesis (triacylglycerols [TAG]: 123.5 vs. 85.93, p=0.018), and inflammation (stearoyl delta-9 desaturase activity [SCD-16]: 0.21 vs. 0.07, p<0.001); (b) significant decrease in cardiac endocannabinoid (2-arachidonoyl-sn-glycerol, 2-AG: 29.90 vs. 65.95, p<0.001) and fatty acid ethanolamides (FAE: oleoylethanolamide, OEA: 114.3 vs. 125.4, p=0.047; palmitoylethanolamide, PEA: 72.96 vs. 82.87, p=0.008); and (c) increased cardiac inflammation (IL-1β/IL-6 ratio: 19.79 vs.13.57, p=0.038; TNF-α/IL-6 ratio: 1.73 vs. 1.03, p=0.019) and oxidative stress (thiobarbituric acid reactive substances [TBARS]: 7.81 vs. 7.05, p=0.022), that were associated with cardiac steatosis (higher TAG: 1.09 vs. 0.72, p<0.001). Cardiac lipogenesis persisted, and elevated BP emerged two weeks after exposure.

    Conclusions: Acute psychological stress elicits ECS-related cardiac responses associated with persistent, potentially-pathological changes in rat cardiovascular biochemistry/function.

  •  | October 28, 2016 3:00AM

    PURPOSE: Appropriate utilization of treatment is a goal for all patients undergoing cancer treatment. Proper treatment maximizes benefit and limits exposure to unnecessary measures. This report describes findings of the feasibility and acceptability of implementing a short, clinic-based decision aid and presents an in-depth clinical profile of the participants.

    METHODS: This descriptive study used a prospective, quantitative approach to obtain the feasibility and acceptability of a decision aid (DecisionKEYS for Balancing Choices) for use in clinical settings. It combined results of trials of patients with three different common malignancies. All groups used the same decision aid series. Participants included 80 patients with solid tumors (22 with newly diagnosed breast cancer, 19 with advanced prostate cancer, and 39 with advanced lung cancer) and their 80 supporters as well as their physicians and nurses, for a total of 160 participants and 10 health professionals.

    RESULTS: The decision aid was highly acceptable to patient and supporter participants in all diagnostic groups. It was feasible for use in clinic settings; the overall value was rated highly. Of six physicians, all found the interactive format with the help of the nurse as feasible and acceptable. Nurses also rated the decision aid favorably.

    CONCLUSIONS: This intervention provides the opportunity to enhance decision making about cancer treatment and warrants further study including larger and more diverse groups. Strengths of the study included a theoretical grounding, feasibility testing of a practical clinic-based intervention, and summative evaluation of acceptability of the intervention by patient and supporter pairs. Further research also is needed to test the effectiveness of the decision aid in diverse clinical settings and to determine if this intervention can decrease overall costs.

  •  | September 13, 2016 3:00AM

    Background: There is increasing evidence that neighborhood-level factors, in addition to individual-level factors, may contribute directly or indirectly to childhood asthma by affecting environmental and lifestyle factors. Exposure to neighborhood crime and violence has been associated with poor health outcomes, especially among underserved and minority populations, and its effect on respiratory health is an area of active research. 

    Objective: To examine the association of residential neighborhood crime with asthma and asthma-related outcomes among Mexican American children. 

    Methods: This cross-sectional study was conducted with parents of 2,023 Mexican American children. We derived measures of neighborhood (census tract) violent, property, and drug abuse crime and used multilevel generalized estimating equations to test associations of neighborhood crime counts with respiratory conditions. 

    Results: In multiple regression models, a 1-SD increase in neighborhood property crimes significantly increased the odds of lifetime asthma, lifetime wheezing, lifetime emergency department (ED) visits attributable to asthma or wheezing, and lifetime hospitalization attributable to asthma or wheezing by 25%, 18%, 44%, and 62%, respectively. A 1-SD elevation in neighborhood violent crime was positively and significantly associated with 21% and 57% higher odds of lifetime wheezing and ED visits, respectively. We also observed 13% and 44% significantly increased odds of lifetime wheezing and ED visits, respectively, for a 1-SD increase in drug abuse crime. These findings were not explained or modified by individual- and neighborhood-level covariates.

    Conclusion: Higher neighborhood crime was associated with greater odds of asthma and asthma morbidity in Mexican American children.

  •  | September 1, 2016 3:00AM

    BACKGROUND: The Kaiser Permanente model of integrated health delivery is highly regarded for high-quality and efficient health care. Efforts to reproduce Kaiser's success have mostly failed. One factor that has received little attention and that could explain Kaiser's advantage is its commitment to and investment in nursing as a key component of organizational culture and patient-centered care.

    PURPOSE: The aim of this study was to investigate the role of Kaiser's nursing organization in promoting quality of care.

    METHODOLOGY: This was a cross-sectional analysis of linked secondary data from multiple sources, including a detailed survey of nurses, for 564 adult, general acute care hospitals from California, Florida, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey in 2006-2007. We used logistic regression models to examine whether patient (mortality and failure-to-rescue) and nurse (burnout, job satisfaction, and intent-to-leave) outcomes in Kaiser hospitals were better than in non-Kaiser hospitals. We then assessed whether differences in nursing explained outcomes differences between Kaiser and other hospitals. Finally, we examined whether Kaiser hospitals compared favorably with hospitals known for having excellent nurse work environments-Magnet hospitals.

    FINDINGS: Patient and nurse outcomes in Kaiser hospitals were significantly better compared with non-Magnet hospitals. Kaiser hospitals had significantly better nurse work environments, staffing levels, and more nurses with bachelor's degrees. Differences in nursing explained a significant proportion of the Kaiser outcomes advantage. Kaiser hospital outcomes were comparable with Magnet hospitals, where better outcomes have been largely explained by differences in nursing.

    IMPLICATIONS: An important element in Kaiser's success is its investment in professional nursing, which may not be evident to systems seeking to achieve Kaiser's advantage. Our results suggest that a possible strategy for achieving outcomes like Kaiser may be for hospitals to consider Magnet designation, a proven and cost-effective strategy to improve process of care through investments in nursing.

  •  | June 26, 2016 3:00AM

    Background: Our program of research focuses on thermal and circulatory stability in extremely premature infants. In prior studies, we found that infants have long periods of time in which foot temperature (FT) is higher than central temperature. We thus wanted to determine whether blood flow in the foot is increased when FT is elevated. Perfusion index (PI) can be used as a clinical indicator of peripheral perfusion, but reports on use of PI in premature infants are lacking. We employed exploratory methodology to examine foot perfusion and temperature in very low birth weight infants.

    Aims: For premature infants after birth: (1) describe foot PI values for the first 2 weeks of life and (2) describe the relationship of longitudinal FT and PI. Study

    Design: Case study design with longitudinal FT and PI in 17 infants born at <29 weeks’ gestation with birth weight < 1,200 g for 2 weeks after birth. Results: Infants averaged 851 g at birth and were 24–29 weeks’ gestational age. The mean PI across all infants for 14 days was 1.04, SD ¼ 0.79. Using a repeated measures multilevel model approach confirmed that FT and PI were positively related in these infants. 

    Conclusions: These findings demonstrate that perfusion is increased in the periphery in extremely premature infants when FT is increased. PI measures can be used as a trend for peripheral perfusion, and these values increase over the first 2 weeks of life in infants weighing more than 750 g.

  •  | May 17, 2016 3:00AM

    PURPOSE/OBJECTIVES: To describe the development of a self-efficacy instrument that measures perceived ability to manage symptoms and quality-of-life problems resulting from the diagnosis and treatment of breast cancer.

    DESIGN: Items were developed and content validity assessed. A 14-item scale was psychometrically evaluated using internal consistency reliability and several types of construct validity.

    SAMPLE: 1,127 female breast cancer survivors (BCSs).

    METHODS: Written consents were mailed to the research office. Data were collected via mail and telephone.

    MAIN RESEARCH VARIABLES: Demographics, symptom bother, communication with healthcare provider, attention function, fear of recurrence, depression, marital satisfaction, fatigue, sexual functioning, trait and state anxiety, and overall well-being.

    FINDINGS: Data demonstrated that the breast cancer self-efficacy scale (BCSES) was reliable, with an alpha coefficient of 0.89, inter-item correlations ranging from 0.3-0.6, and item-total correlation coefficients ranging from 0.5-0.73. Three of 14 items were deleted because of redundancy as identified through high (> 0.7) inter-item correlations. Factor analysis revealed that the scale was unidimensional. Predictive validity was supported through testing associations between self-efficacy and theoretically supported quality-of-life variables, including physical, psychological, and social dimensions, as well as overall well-being.

    CONCLUSIONS: The BCSES demonstrated high internal consistency reliability, unidimensionality, and excellent content and construct validity. This scale should be integrated into interventions that target self-efficacy for managing symptoms in BCSs.

    IMPLICATIONS FOR NURSING: Nurses working with BCSs may use this tool to assess areas in which survivors might need to build confidence to adequately cope with their specific survivorship concerns.

    KNOWLEDGE TRANSLATION: The use of the BCSES can inform nurse researchers about the impact of an intervention on self-efficacy in the context of breast cancer survivorship, improving the ability to deliver effective interventions. The scale is brief and easy to administer. Results of this study demonstrate clear psychometric reliability and validity, suggesting that the BCSES should be put to use immediately in interventions targeting the quality of life of BCSs.

  •  | May 2, 2016 3:00AM

    Objectives: Radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer in the United States and the leading cause of lung cancer among nonsmokers. Residential radon is the cause of approximately 21,000 U.S. lung cancer deaths each year. Dangerous levels of radon are just as likely to be found in low-rise apartments and townhomes as single-family homes in the same area. The preferred radon mitigation strategy can be expensive and requires structural modifications to the home. The public health nurse (PHN) needs a collection of low-cost alternatives when working with low-income families or families who rent their homes.

    Method: A review of the literature was performed to identify evidence-based methods to reduce radon risk with vulnerable populations.

    Results: Fourteen recommendations for radon risk reduction were categorized into four strategies. Nine additional activities for raising awareness and increasing testing were also included.

    Discussion: The results pair the PHN with practical interventions and the underlying rationale to develop radon careplans with vulnerable families across housing types. The PHN has both the competence and the access to help families reduce their exposure to this potent carcinogen.