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Cheryl Dennison to Address Heart Failure Among African Americans

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Posted: 3/9/2009

Johns Hopkins University School of Nursing (JHUSON) associate professor Cheryl Dennison, PhD, RN, ANP has been awarded a research project grant (R21) of $451,000 from the National Institute of Nursing Research to evaluate a nurse-led heart failure care transition intervention for African Americans.

Dennison and her colleagues will test an innovative, patient-centered, interdisciplinary model for heart failure care.  The heart failure care transition intervention (HFCTI) includes medication and symptom self management support, a personal heart failure care record, and the use of telehealth, the delivery of health-related services and information via telecommunications technologies. The HFCTI is being refined through patient focus groups and clinician stakeholder assessments and will be delivered by a nurse-community heath navigator team to heart failure patients and their caregivers.

Heart failure affects more than 5 million Americans, and the death toll is reaching epidemic proportions, particularly among African Americans, who experience higher rates of heart failure. "African Americans are more likely to be hospitalized and more likely to die from heart failure than other populations," says Dennison. "Repeated emergency room visits and rehospitalizations are devastating for patients and also contribute to the $33.2 billion annual cost of heart failure." Common reasons for rehospitalization include delays in symptom recognition, medication and dietary noncompliance, and lack of knowledge and skills for competent self management. 

"It is our hope that this study will improve our understanding of methods to assist patients in their heart failure self management efforts and consequently improve outcomes of heart," says Dennison.

As a clinician, researcher, and nurse educator, Dennison is committed to improving cardiovascular care for high-risk, underserved populations. Her current research bridges scientific research and clinical practice in developing and testing interdisciplinary approaches to reduce system, provider, and patient-level barriers to the implementation of cardiovascular care guidelines.