Beth Black Receives NIH Funding to Study End of Life Care

Beth Black, PhD, RN

Assistant Professor has received funding from the National Institute of Nursing Research at NIH for her grant entitled “End-of-Life Care After Severe Fetal Diagnosis.” The grant is for $407,000 over 2 years to study the implementation of a perinatal palliative care program at the UNC Center for Maternal and Infant Health, and responses to a life-threatening fetal diagnosis by women, their partners and health care providers. Dr. , Cary C. Boshamer Professor, is a co-investigator and is a research adviser to the study.  

“We need to learn how to support these families in the best way possible. The way to learn is to talk to them, to find out what they need, identify their grief trajectory, and find out how they do after the loss,” Dr. Black says. In the long term, Dr. Black wants her work to provide a good theoretical foundation for the development of interventions for these families. She also wants to align perinatal issues with the end of life care issues conceptually. “I’m really committed to the care of these families. I want to find out from them and from their providers how we can best care for them in this heartbreaking situation.”
Look for more on Dr. Black’s work in the next issue of .

SON to Be Site of Hong Kong/UNC Nursing Discussions

The School of Nursing will be the site of in-depth research conversations on Feb. 5, 2010. Five delegates from the Hong Kong Polytechnic University, with whom the SON has a Memorandum of Understanding, will be at the School to discuss many areas in which both institutions intend to collaborate in the future.

Most of the dialogue will focus on end-of-life care, geriatrics, pressure ulcer management, oncology, peri-operative nursing, cognitive impairment, leadership, ethics and legal issues and psychiatric-mental health.

Two main events are planned for Feb. 5. The Hong Kong delegation will make a presentation on the research agenda of their school from 12 p.m. to 1 p.m. in L700 in the new addition of Carrington Hall. Immediately following the presentation, SON faculty will have the opportunity to engage the Hong Kong delegation in discussions about mutual teaching and research interests. Associate Professor Jennifer Leeman will facilitate these conversations from 1:15 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. Associate Professor Ed Halloran, who spent two years at Hong Kong Polytechnic University, will host.

Esther Mok, professor and associate head (postgraduate studies and management) will lead the Hong Kong delegation. She is also a researcher and lecturer in end-of-life care.  She serves on the review panel of the Hong Kong Nursing Journal and the Asian Journal of Nursing Studies and is on the International Advisory Board for the Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice.

Enid Kwong, associate professor and chair of the School Research Committee, has research interests in geriatric care and pressure ulcer management.

Shirley Ching is an assistant professor and the program leader of the full-time government-funded Bachelor of Science (Honors) in Nursing that has more than 800 students. With a focus on cancer nursing, she received the Young Investigator Award 2001 from the Hong Kong International Cancer Congress.

Justina Liu currently teaches undergraduate gerontological nursing and serves as the deputy program leader of the full-time government-funded BSN program. She also oversees student exchange with institutions in Australia, Europe and North and South Americas. Liu’s interests include peri-operative nursing, surgical nursing and management of behavioral problems in people with cognitive impairment.

Frederick Yeung is the program leader of the newly operated full-time government-funded Bachelor of Science (Honors) in Mental Health Nursing. He teaches undergraduate subjects in healthcare leadership roles and management functions, ethical and legal aspects and mental health nursing. Yeung has served The Hong Kong College of Mental Health Nursing as the president and council member since 1999. His research focus is in mental health nursing and nursing management.

Faculty Member Publishes Study on Advance Directives

Faculty member Donna Helen Crisp, JD, MSN, RN, CS, recently published an article in the March issue of the Journal of Nursing Law, entitled “Healthy Older Adults’ Execution of Advance Directives: A Qualitative Study of Decision Making.”

This study looks at why people who choose to create a Living Will or Health Care Power of Attorney arrive at the decision to do so. The research also makes recommendations for nursing practice as related to patients’ Advance Directives (ADs).

To gather data, Crisp interviewed eight healthy older adults, ranging in age from 60 to 77, over a four-month period. All participants were white. Three were men, and five were women. All participants were interviewed for 30 minutes to 50 minutes.

Through her research, Crisp discovered that there were three major influences that prompted people to draw up ADs – family influences (such as watching a loved one die); quality-of-life concerns (such as loss of autonomy and dignity); and pragmatic concerns (such as drain of financial resources). Participant interviews revealed, however, that there was no one overriding reason why people decide to obtain an AD.

Crisp’s study also offered comments on attorney-client end-of-life planning. In her interviews, she found that the participants were more influenced by discussions with their attorneys over matters, such as estate planning, than by talking with a doctor. Her review of a Veterans’ Affairs study saw more people completing ADs after talking with a lawyer.

The study showed that nurses can play a specific and unique role in their patients’ understanding of ADs as they shepherd patients and families through an informed and sensitive conversation about end-of-life care and the decision-making required to ensure patients’ wishes are honored. Because of the intimate care nurses give to patients, they are often the most effective facilitators of such discussions, especially when it is clear that medical intervention will no longer be effective.


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