Friday, September 24, 2010

Quality of life after breast cancer

As October once again brings breast cancer to the forefront of public awareness, Patricia K. Bradley, PhD, RN continues to contribute to the body of scientific knowledge surrounding African American Breast Cancer Survivors (AABCS).

Dr. Bradley, associate professor in the College of Nursing at Villanova University, has a career-long commitment to her research related to breast cancer. Currently, she is co-investigator with principal investigator Andrea Barsevick, PhD, RN, FAAN of Philadelphia’s Fox Chase Cancer Center to study Problems and Resources of African American Breast Cancer Survivors with a four-year American Cancer Society Research Scholar Grant.

“Our grant will focus on African American Breast Cancer Survivors because less is known about their survivor challenges or the resources available for dealing with these challenges. This study is unique because it will help us learn how African American women deal with stress after their breast cancer treatment has ended,” explains Dr. Bradley. She further notes, “Having women tell their stories and having women answer questions on a survey will give us a better idea of what it is like to be an African American breast cancer survivor. Our ultimate goal is to develop a product or program that addresses quality of life needs of AABCS and prepare for its evaluation in future research.”

Dr. Bradley, who has taught psychiatric and mental health nursing at Villanova since 1997, has been an active board member with Linda Creed, a non-profit breast cancer organization, for over ten years. She currently serves as president of the board of directors. She has an extended devotion to public awareness of breast cancer by developing training programs and materials that focus on the needs of the African American community. Dr. Bradley is the co-author of the award winning educational booklet Getting Connected: African Americans Living Beyond Breast Cancer. She is the 2003 recipient of the Elaine M. Ominsky Humanitarian Award from Linda Creed, honored for her many years of distinguished service in raising awareness, especially among African American women, about breast cancer. Dr. Bradley is also a national and regional volunteer with the American Cancer Society, and chair of the National Diversity Advisory Group. Her commitment to the improvement of women’s lives after breast cancer is evidenced by her selection as the 2004 recipient of the Inaugural Founder’s Award from the advocacy organization, Living Beyond Breast Cancer. Dr. Bradley is also the recipient of the American Cancer Society’s Southeast Region Volunteer Gold Achievement Award and their Sisters Surviving Breast Cancer Tribute Award for outstanding work in education, advocacy, and quality of life issues for African American women with breast cancer.

Dr. Bradley has been a faculty member for the Oncology Nursing Society’s Cancer Prevention and Early Detection Workshop for Nurse Educators in Minority-Serving Institutions and a Special Populations Investigator at Thomas Jefferson University’s Department of Behavioral Epidemiology where she conducted a pilot study of “Preparing African American Women for Breast Biopsy.” Her research interests include psychosocial responses to illness and trauma and developing strategies to adopt healthy screening behaviors.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Dr. Elizabeth Dowdell receives DOJ grant to study risk- and Internet-related behaviors in adolescents

Keeping youth safe on the Internet is not only a passion but a mission for Elizabeth Burgess Dowdell, Ph.D., R.N., CRNP, associate professor at Villanova University College of Nursing. She has been awarded a grant of nearly $314,000 by the Department of Justice, Office of Juvenile Justice Delinquency Prevention [OJJDP]. Dr. Dowdell is the principal investigator for the study “Self Exploitation and Electronic Aggression: High Risk Internet Behaviors in Adolescents." The award is for two years, beginning January 1, 2011 through the end of 2012.

“The primary goal of this research project is to examine the relationships between a range of risk-related and Internet-related behaviors,” says Dr. Dowdell whose research interests focus on Internet victimization of children, health risk behaviors and vulnerability across the lifespan, victimology, and nursing care of children.

This project will survey high school students about participation in self-exploitative behaviors and risky social networking behaviors (such as auto-pornography, “sexting” and Face Roulette) that may increase victimization. Assessment of student Internet knowledge and practice is vital to understanding what motivates some adolescents to create and distribute explicit photos of themselves or others. Questions will also be asked specific to electronic aggression, about what differentiates students who use the Internet to embarrass, harass, or bully others from the student victims.

Knowledge gained from a high school population will provide insights for designing developmentally appropriate strategies that have the potential to enhance existing Internet safety programs. “By better understanding patterns of creating and distributing explicit or inappropriate photos, precursors and correlates of risky Internet behavior, and motivators of electronic aggression, we will be better able to design prevention strategies to keep youth safer on the Internet,” explains Dr. Dowdell. Previous studies have looked at Internet behaviors and experiences of middle school students, high school students, their parents and a population of Internet offenders.

Dr. Dowdell is an expert in the area of forensic pediatric nursing and Internet safety. She shares her knowledge as a member of the editorial review panel of the Journal of Forensic Nursing, as well as scholarly publications, national presentations and expert commentary for the media.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Nursing alumna returns from Oman to study accreditation

This August, the College of Nursing welcomed nurses from the Sultanate of Oman who are studying for their BSN, MSN and PhD degrees. The College has nearly 200 alumni in Oman, the outcome of the 16-year relationship it enjoys with the Ministry of Health in Oman to educate Omani nurses to assume leadership positions in education and administration in their country.

Among the nurses arriving this summer was Samira Al-Rawahi, who is on a three-month Fulbright scholarship studying accreditation in the United States. She earned her MSN in 1997 at Villanova in nursing education. She was the first nurse educator in Oman and is currently the most senior person in nursing education in Oman. Her role is Education Advisor to Oman’s Institute of Health Science where she is involved with accreditation system and all activities dealing with education and quality.

“Accreditation has always been my interest. Oman is now establishing an accreditation system in Higher Education and I am also involved in implementing the system,” she explains. She is based at the College of Nursing analyzing the accreditation process for schools of nursing and Villanova University as well. She will also travel to Washington D.C. and to Atlanta, Georgia to meet key people affiliated with the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education and the National League for Nursing Accrediting Commission, respectively.

When Ms. Al-Rawahi returns to Oman in late October, she will make recommendations for improvements in the new accreditation system to those involved with the process.

Friday, September 3, 2010

College of Nursing on cutting edge of psychiatric simulation

Nursing students in their psychiatric nursing clinical practicum learn ways of helping people who hear distressing voices as they participate in a clinical simulation of auditory hallucinations. Here they are distracted by voices through the headphones and struggle to complete tasks as they undergoing cognitive testing and an evaluation by a psychiatrist in a simulated emergency department scenario, mimicking a patient experience.

With mental disorders being so common in the United States and around the world—one in four American adults or approximately 58 million people have a diagnosable mental disorder in a given year according to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)—the impact on nursing is significant. The weight of more serious illness is seen in about 1 in 17 of those affected. Mental disorders cross all age groups and cultures and are seen in all care settings. The Villanova University College of Nursing recently implemented an innovative new clinical simulation for second semester junior nursing students to increase their understanding of the patient experience for those with more severe disease which includes hearing distressing voices. Student Erika Clark calls it an “eye-opener.” “Understanding your patient's perspective is necessary for quality nursing care,” she notes.

Targeting the care of patients who hear distressing voices (for instance, those with schizophrenia affecting about 1% of Americans, according to NIMH statistics), College faculty and associate professors Patricia K. Bradley, PhD, RN and Gale Robinson-Smith, PhD, RN, along with consultant Colleen Meakim, MSN, RN, director of the College’s Learning Resource Center, applied for and received a University VITAL (Villanova Institute for Teaching and Learning) grant to implement the Hearing Voices That Are Distressing (HVTAD) experience with their undergraduate Psychiatric Nursing clinical students starting this fall semester. The HVTAD experience, which builds on the students’ previous classroom learning, has also been used elsewhere with first responders such as EMTs and police. “The College of Nursing is among the first nursing schools in the United States and Canada to use the simulation,” says Dr. Robinson-Smith.

“The HVTAD Program is a training and curriculum package that provides a simulation experience for undergraduate nursing students,” explains Meakim. Students are instructed in use of the headphones and the MP3 player recording and how the simulation will be conducted, as well as the location of a ‘safe zone” where they can adjust their headphones or seek assistance from faculty if they need to briefly step away from the immediate sensory experience. The students use headphones to listen to a specially designed recording which simulates auditory hallucinations as they perform a number of tasks at various workstations. They role play with “standardized professionals” (non-nursing students trained to act as mental health professionals) where they must participate in an evaluation interview with an emergency department psychiatrist, complete cognitive testing and interact while in a community day program activity. The simulation experience is followed by a debriefing and discussion period.

Dr. Bradley offers, “Through the simulation experience students increase their empathy and understanding of the lived-experience of psychiatric disability.” Student Shazi Khan recalls feeling “guarded and distracted” during his simulation period. A major objective of the simulation is for students to learn more effective ways of helping people who hear distressing voices. Classmate J. R. Beshore summarizes the impact of his scenarios, “I left the simulation with a deeper understanding and appreciation for what these patients live with, which will allow me to express true empathy when working with them. Every nursing student should have this experience.” Lauren Dornin agrees, “Regardless of their message, encouraging or degrading, the voices greatly impacted my concentration and overall sense of well-being. This was an invaluable experience and will allow me to better relate to and empathize with mental health patients in the future.”