What is the focus of your research? What questions are you trying to answer? What problems are you attempting to solve?
My research is focused on investigating strategies for promoting health and wellness and preventing disease and illness. I am interested in strategies that target behavioral and environmental change and that motivate people to reach their health and wellness goals. As strong evidence supports early intervention strategies before illness and disease develop, I am particularly interested in reaching children through partnering with parents. Most of my research is guided by self-efficacy theory. Questions I am trying to answer:
What led to your interest in this topic?
As a mental health clinical nurse specialist, I observed long ago how environmental and behavioral experiences influence health patterns over time and contribute to suffering and quality of life. As a sexual assault nurse examiner in the 1980s, I observed the suffering of hundreds of (mostly) women, many who were repeat victims. These experiences compelled me to pursue work that would be more preventive in nature. I became interested in the family as a unit to support both parents and children in promoting health and wellness, preventing disease and suffering as possible, and empowering people to take charge of their health and chose behaviors that support health and wellness, and positive relationships. Over the past two decades, the growing mental health problems and overweight and obesity crisis have become two major foci for my research projects.
What impact (on citizens, practice environment, educational opportunities, funding, etc.) do you predict coming from this research?
I anticipate the identification of effective health promoting strategies that are:
How does the research integrate into education/practice/service?
This research is about changing cultures, environments, and behaviors that will sustain health and wellness patterns among working parents, families and children. Nursing’s foundation is health promotion and environmental change. Nurses are thus in a natural position to provide services consistent with this research program. Moreover, the focus is appropriate for multiple settings and can be part of community volunteer work as well paid nursing services. Teaching nurses health behavior strategies such as motivational interviewing will equip them with the tools to empower patients to promote their own health and prevent/reduce disease and illness.