Faculty Receive Awards for Sickle Cell Disease and Infant Feeding Research


Dr. Coretta Jenerette

Congratulations are in order for Dr. Coretta Jenerette and Dr. Eric Hodges, who both received Junior Faculty Development Awards from UNC’s Faculty Study and Research Leave Committee.

Dr. Jenerette will use the funds for the transcription of a set of 42 life-review interviews conducted as part of a pilot study on the efficacy of an intervention for improving satisfaction with the pain management experience and reducing perceived health-related stigma for young adults with sickle cell disease. This award will help Dr. Jenerette further develop her program of research, which is aimed at designing theory-based, self-care management strategies for individuals with sickle cell disease.

Eric Hodges

Dr. Eric Hodges

Dr. Hodges will be using the funds to conduct a secondary analysis of data from the Infant Care, Feeding, and Risk of Obesity Study. His secondary analysis of data will characterize patterns of maternal feeding responsiveness over time while taking into account the role of salient maternal and infant characteristics  as well as distinguish patterns of maternal feeding responsiveness among groups based on three infant weight-for-length growth trajectories: 1) those starting below the 85th percentile and eventually going and staying above, 2) those starting above the 85th percentile and eventually going and staying below, and 3) those staying between the 30th and 70th percentiles at all observations.

Students and Faculty Volunteer at Project Homeless Connect

Eric Hodges (left) was one of the School of Nursing faculty members that volunteered at Project Homeless Connect. Photo by Laura Shmania, http://www.butterflites.com

The UNC School of Nursing served the community through Project Homeless Connect on Nov. 4. This one-stop event at the Hargraves Community Center in Chapel Hill provided services such as job-readiness resources, health and dental care, mental health assistance, social services, legal services and  housing to people experiencing or at risk of experiencing homelessness. Project Homeless Connect  is a key initiative of the Orange County Partnership to End Homelessness and has served nearly 600 guests since 2007.

SON Associate Dean for Community Partnerships & Practice, Sonda Oppewal, acted as a Co-Chair for Project Homeless Connect’s Health Committee. She solicited ideas from SON faculty about how the School might be involved, bringing some new ideas and services to the event.  For example, guests were guided to relevant health services using new health intake forms developed by SON. The forms facilitated the use of clinical judgment based on interviews with the guests about past and current health problems.

Oppewal also helped assure there were sufficient health care providers, a need that SON helped meet with three nurse practitioners — Clinical Instructor Carrie Palmer, Clinical Assistant Professor and MSN Coordinator Jean Davison and Clinical Assistant Professor Victoria Cryer. Guests with high blood pressures, high cholesterol or glucose were directed to the nurse practitioners for counseling and referral (if needed).

Clinical Instructor Louise Fleming served as an active member of the Health Committee and recruited students to participate. Other faculty who participated included Clinical Associate Professor Eric Hodges, Clinical Assistant Professor Liska Lackey, Clinical Assistant Professor Diane Yorke, Dean Kristen Swanson, and Clinical Instructor Angela Clark. Clinical Assistant Professor Megan Williams also supported the project as the advisor to ANS.

Before the event SON Association of Nursing Students helped collect toiletry kits that were distributed before Nov. 4 as part of outreach efforts to tell homeless people about Project Homeless Connect.  During the event 27 students assisted with intake forms, providing health information, helping with eye exams, and assisted in escorting guests to various stations. Students also gave manicures this year, which provided a new opportunity for therapeutic communication and health education reinforcement. A health bingo game was another new feature that  reinforced  health education.

Sara Smith, a senior BSN student helped give manicures. She said that the event was a great opportunity to help and volunteer. She had not participated before and was surprised by the number of children and women that made up the the homeless population of Chapel Hill.

UNC faculty and students helped with many of the stations at the Project Homeless Connect event. They assisted with health histories and intake, provided health information, gave manicures, took blood pressure, and assisted in escorting guests to various stations.

Sara Smith, a senior BSN student helped give manicures. She said that the event was a great opportunity to help and volunteer. She had not participated before and was surprised by the number of children and women that made up the the homeless population of Chapel Hill.  She said it was an eye-opening experience.

Sara Smith, a senior BSN student helped give manicures. She said that the event was a great opportunity to help and volunteer. She had not participated before and was surprised by the number of children and women that made up the the homeless population of Chapel Hill. She said it was an eye-opening experience.


Are You Hungry?: Studying How African-American Mothers Respond to Children’s Hunger Signals

Children who are overweight or obese during early childhood are at an increased risk for maintaining an unhealthy weight as they age. Today, more than 10 percent of American infants and toddlers are obese. Yet, little is known about what contributes to obesity risk during the first two years of life.

Assistant Professor Eric Hodges is conducting a longitudinal study of

Assistant Professor Eric Hodges is investigating whether the way a mother responds to an infant or toddler's hunger or fullness signals affects the child's risk for childhood obesity.

45 African-American children and their mothers to determine if a mother’s response to her child’s hunger or fullness cues directly impacts the child’s ability to self-regulate food intake. He has funding from the University of North Carolina’s Clinical Nutrition Research Center and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

Hodges is conducting a secondary analysis of videotapes from a recent study that followed African-American mothers and their infants from ages three months to 18 months, analyzing their feeding relationships. This previous study’s principal investigator, Margaret Bentley, a nutritionist from the School of Public Health, is collaborating with Hodges on his research. Hodges is analyzing data on feeding interactions at infant ages three months, six months, nine months, 12 months and 18 months.

Data collection will reveal how a mother reacts to signs that her child is hungry, such as increased sucking or mouthing, reaching for food or crying due to hunger. In addition, Hodges is observing how mothers respond to fullness signals, such as a slower eating pace, opening the mouth only when the spoon reaches the lips or turning away from food.

“We’re looking at the mother’s response to the signs that the child is either receptive to or disinterested in food,” Hodges said. “Ultimately, we want to begin to establish whether these feeding interactions have a direct impact on children’s ability to control how much food they eat and whether this sets children up for a risk of obesity.”

Hodges intends to target unproductive feeding patterns for prevention and early intervention to reduce the occurrence of childhood obesity. Data gathered could also identify characteristics of an infant-mother pair that may put infants at risk for obesity, such as a pairing of an infant with a difficult temperament and a depressed mother who struggles to respond appropriately to her child’s feeding cues.

Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Selects Faculty Member As One of 15 Nurse Faculty Scholars

Eric Hodges, PhD, APRN, FNP-BC, an assistant professor at the School of Nursing at University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, has won a competitive grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) to conduct research on childhood obesity risks and how parental feeding patterns influence infant and child eating patterns later in life. Hodges is one of just 15 nurse educators from around the country to receive the three-year $350,000 “Nurse Faculty Scholar” award this year. It is given to junior faculty who

Assistant professor Eric Hodges was selected as one of 15 Nurse Faculty Scholars nationally by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

Assistant professor Eric Hodges was selected as one of 15 Nurse Faculty Scholars nationally by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

show outstanding promise as future leaders in academic nursing. The grant period begins this month.

“The generous support from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation will enable me to help provide a window into childhood obesity, and whether there are preventative measures we can take early on to keep children healthy,” Hodges said.

For his research, Hodges will expand upon a previous study of first time mothers examining maternal feeding patterns. He will reconnect with participants in the initial study and through a combination of home visits and data collection, examine what, if any, patterns emerge between childhood obesity and early feeding habits. Hodges will focus on environmental and social factors that may contribute to obesity. Study participants are primarily located in the Durham and Orange County region.

“Nursing is ideally situated for childhood obesity prevention. Primary care and public health nurses are at the front lines, and combined with well child visits, we could really make an impact on reducing obesity risk,” said Hodges. “Finding out what part of obesity could be modifiable, and what particular patterns in infancy and toddlerhood might set children up for obesity, would allow us to prevent illness and apply early interventions.”

Margaret S. Miles, RN, PhD, Professor at UNC Chapel Hill School of Nursing, and Margaret E. Bentley, PhD, Associate Dean and Professor at the Department of Nutrition at UNC Chapel Hill, will serve as his mentors.

“Hodges’ research on early feeding patterns and childhood obesity presents an opportunity to apply preventative measures in an epidemic that is quickly spiraling out of control in this country,” Dr. Miles said. “His work will contribute a great deal to this area of concern for so many parents and families.”

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s “Nurse Faculty Scholar” award aims to strengthen the academic productivity and overall excellence of nursing schools by developing the next generation of national leaders in academic nursing.

Supporting junior nurse faculty will help curb a severe shortage of nurse educators that threatens to undermine the health and health care of all Americans. Many nursing schools lack the resources needed to hire and support enough faculty to train the next generation of nurses. As a result, nursing schools are turning away thousands of qualified applicants—rejecting the very people who can help reverse a serious looming nurse shortage. As the supply of nurses shrinks and the demand for their services grows, patient care will suffer.

The Foundation’s “Nurse Faculty Scholars” program aims to curb the effects of the nursing shortage by helping more junior faculty succeed in, and commit to, academic careers. The program provides talented junior faculty with salary and research support, as well as the chance to participate in institutional and national mentoring activities, leadership training, and networking events with colleagues in nursing and other fields, while continuing to teach and provide institutional, professional and community service in their universities.

The program will also enhance the stature of the scholars’ academic institutions, which will benefit fellow nurse educators seeking professional development opportunities.

To receive the award, scholars must be registered nurses who have completed a research doctorate in nursing or a related discipline and who have held a tenure-eligible faculty position at an accredited nursing school for at least two and no more than five years.

The program is funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and administered through the Johns Hopkins University School of Nursing. It is directed by Jacquelyn Campbell, PhD, RN, FAAN, who is the Anna D. Wolf chair and professor at the Johns Hopkins University School of Nursing.

To learn more about the program, visit www.rwjfnursefacultyscholars.org.

Ready To Eat…Now, All Done

Assistant professor Eric Hodges is currently conducting research into the ways mothers respond to the hunger and fullness cues their infants and toddlers present. The goal of his study is to determine whether a mother’s response plays a role in childhood obesity as the child ages and to identify ways to change those behaviors, if needed.

Hodges conducts his research in the recently-completed behavioral observation laboratory in the School of Nursing’s Biobehavioral Laboratory. Housed inside Carrington Hall, this space gives study participants a relaxed environment in which to interact and allows Hodges to observe their behaviors in a non-invasive way.

The School of Nursing has produced a documentary, highlighting the benefits and unique nature of this lab. With Hodges’ research as a backdrop, you will be taken into this new facility to see how nurse researchers develop knowledge that translates evidence into practice.  Enjoy!


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