Sharon Kozachik, PhD, RN, a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Johns Hopkins University School of Nursing, has been selected as the 2008 Lucille V. Lukens, RN, American Nurses Foundation Scholar. Over the next year, working under the mentorship of leading pain researcher and Johns Hopkins University School of Nursing Professor Gayle Page, DNSc, RN, FAAN, Kozachik will engage in pre-clinical research that may lead to improved sleep, decreased pain, and improved quality of life for future cancer patients.
Kozachik will examine the effects of sleep disruption on pain in rats that have been injected with paclitaxel, a commonly used chemotherapy for solid tumor and lymphoid cancers. “In about 60 percent of cancer patients, paclitaxel causes a painful and debilitating peripheral neuropathy a nerve pain in the hands and feet. Many patients also experience sleep disruption within a week of initiating therapy,” explains Kozachik. “Through this study, we hope to better understand the complex relationship between pain and sleep, and ultimately improve functioning and quality of life for cancer patients.”
Using rats that have been implanted with telemetric transmitters to record sleep activity, Kozachik and colleagues will divide the animals into two groups: one whose sleep will be disrupted and the other with unperturbed sleep. All animals will receive intermittent doses of paclitaxel and then will be tested for mechanical sensitivity in their hind paws. Using these data, the researchers plan to determine the effects of sleep disruption on pain and to examine whether male and female animals experience different effects. “The findings from this study have the potential to guide the development and testing of nursing interventions to improve quality of life for cancer patients,” says Kozachik.
The grant, awarded through the American Nurses Foundation (ANF) Research Grants Program, carries with it a stipend of $10,000. The Research Grants Program was founded more than 50 years ago to encourage nurses’ research career development, contribute toward the advancement of nursing science, and enhance patient care.