UR Nursing Researchers Awarded $2.4M in Grants

September 07, 2000

Researchers at the University of Rochester School of Nursing have been awarded a total of $2.4 million in grants for studies that consider the long-term benefits of home health visits for young mothers, end-of-life issues in hospital intensive care units, and improving the health of children with asthma.

A $1.7 million grant was awarded by the National Institute of Mental Health to supplement a successful ongoing study of how home visits by nurses to young women who are pregnant improve the lives not only of the children but also the mothers and their partners.

The program, developed by researchers at the University of Rochester and the Colorado Health Sciences Center, is one of only a handful of programs that have been shown to promote self-sufficiency among young, struggling families, says Harriet Kitzman, R.N., Ph.D., the Loretta Ford Professor of Nursing at the University of Rochester School of Nursing. Findings showing the long-term positive effects of the program were featured in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Compared to families who do not receive prenatal and infancy home visits by nurses, families who are visited spend fewer months on welfare and food stamps. Mothers in these families also have fewer subsequent pregnancies and longer intervals between the birth of their first and second child. And their family structure is more stable, with women's partners more involved in the raising of the child and more likely to be employed.

A grant of $712,000 was awarded by the NIH National Institute of Nursing Research to study interaction between patients, families and clinicians regarding end-of-life issues and the effectiveness of communication among all those involved in a patient's case.

For families that have a critically ill loved one in a hospital's intensive care unit, issues surrounding care can be overwhelming, and receiving support from the patient's care providers is an important aspect in the outcome of end-of-life decisions that may need to be made, says Judith Baggs, Ph.D., R.N.

"We know there is the potential for problems associated with communication in every ICU," Baggs says. "Our job as caregivers is to meet patient preferences and needs and ensure that care providers are supplying adequate support at a critical time in a family's life."

During the three-year study, researchers will spend time on four Strong Memorial Hospital adult intensive care units, observing how caregivers and family members interact, and interviewing families and medical staff members, including nurses, medical residents and social workers, about their perceptions regarding the effectiveness of communication.

A grant for $79,000 was awarded to Lorrie Yoos, Ph.D., C.P.N.P., Harriet Kitzman, Ph.D., R.N., and Ann McMullen, M.S., C.P.N.P. by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality to identify barriers to appropriate medication use in childhood asthma.

Asthma is the most common chronic illness among children, affecting almost 5 million children in the United States. Hospitalization rates, morbidity and mortality continue to increase despite scientific advances to improve management.

An important strategy recommended by expert panels to improve outcomes in childhood asthma is early use of medications to prevent asthma symptoms, Yoos says. These medications are currently underutilized and this one-year study looks at why children may not be using the medications as effectively as they could.

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