Student Investigators Share Their Findings

The first eight baccalaureate students to complete the two-year JHUSON Undergraduate Research Honors Program presented the results of their research at the school this spring. Each worked with a full-time faculty member to learn first-hand about proposal writing, obtaining funding, carrying out a research project, and reporting the results.

“I have seen immense intellectual growth among these students during the course of the program.”

—Professor Jerilyn Allen, ScD, RN, FAAN

Alison Purcell ’07 worked with professor Jerilyn Allen, RN, ScD, to study low-income adults with Type 2 diabetes. “Risk for heart disease can be greatly reduced in this population with healthy lifestyle and proper diabetes management,” says Purcell. But for patients to make such lifestyle changes, they

must first understand their risk level. Surprisingly, Purcell found no link between

actual and perceived risk of heart disease in patients at a Baltimore City community health center, which she says “points to a need for identifying patients who misunderstand the links between diabetes management, heart disease, and healthy behaviors.”

With the guidance of professor Marie T. Nolan, PhD, RN, Julia Overturf-Johnson ’07 conducted in-depth interviews with terminally ill patients to learn how their illness impacts their life roles and raises concern of being a burden on their families. “I found that although patients share a common concern for their families, they use a variety of creative strategies to minimize the burden they cause and to maintain a positive attitude,” she says. Patients interviewed used a wide variety of coping methods, including sustaining spirituality, obtaining long-term care insurance, and maintaining supportive family relationships.

“The goal of cultural immersion programs in baccalaureate nursing curricula is to produce ‘culturally competent’ health care professionals as an intervention to decrease health disparity,” says Kristen Jadelrab ’07. “My question was: is it working?” In collaboration with associate professor Miyong Kim, PhD, RN, FAAN, Jadelrab studied cultural immersion programs, in which undergraduate nursing students live and work with their patients on a full-time basis. She found that cultural immersion does indeed increase students’ perceived cultural ability and sensitivity in addition to improving patient-provider interaction and communication skills.

Taryn Westendorf ’07 studied 41 currently abused women at Baltimore’s Shepherd’s Clinic to uncover the effects of the symptoms of pain, fatigue, and depression. She found that the women’s increased pain levels were associated with a diminished ability to perform daily activities, social activities, and work. “The findings suggest that currently abused women may increase their ability to adopt safety behaviors and access community resources when health care providers treat all three symptoms—pain, fatigue, and depression—together,” says Westendorf. “I have seen immense intellectual growth among these students during the course of the program,” says Professor Jerilyn Allen, ScD, RN, FAAN, associate dean for research. “We hope that they will continue to engage in nursing research and scholarship, perhaps pursuing advanced nursing degrees, such as an MSN or PhD.”

Four other students completed projects as part of the program:

Oluyemi Abiodun ’07—”Fatigue during cancer treatment: Does exercise help? Sub-study of the FACT Study.”
-Vicki Mock, DNSc, AOCN, FAAN

Oluwatoyin Abiodun ’07—”Analyzing the concept of workplace satisfaction.”
-Jackie Campbell, PhD, RN, FAAN

Chase Gray ’07—”Anxiety as a Predictor of Chronic Pain Susceptibility in Rats.” Mentor-Gayle Page, DNSc, RN, FAAN

Rachel Walker ’07—”Partner Violence and HIV in Women of African Heritage.”
-Phyllis Sharps, PhD, RN, FAAN

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