June 09, 2020

Timiya S. Nolan Headshot

COLUMBUS, OH— The National Institutes of Health/National Cancer Institute (NIH/NCI) has awarded a five-year career development grant to Principal Investigator Timiya S. Nolan, PhD, APRN-CNP, ANP-BC, assistant professor in the College of Nursing’s Martha S. Pitzer Center for Women, Children and Youth and her team to fund the study, “Piloting Y-AMBIENT: A Quality of Life Intervention for Young African American Breast Cancer Survivors in Treatment.”

Mentors on the study, all from Ohio State, include: Darryl D. Hood, PhD, College of Public Health; Electra D. Paskett, PhD, College of Medicine; Barbara Andersen, PhD, College of Psychology; Maryam Lustberg, MD, MPH, The James Comprehensive Cancer Center; and Alai Tan, PhD, College of Nursing. Mentors will guide Nolan in her pursuit of building an independent program of research that identifies contextual factors of quality of life (QOL) among young (18-44) breast cancer survivors from underrepresented minority groups.

In addition to training, this grant will support a study aimed at evaluating processes and preliminary outcomes of a targeted QOL intervention compared to enhanced usual care intervention in young African American (AA) cancer survivors who are receiving treatment for early (I-II) and late (III) stage breast cancer.

In this study, Nolan and her team will recruit and randomize 40 young AA breast cancer survivors who are in primary breast cancer treatment to an intervention group. This population is targeted given their general report of poorer QOL and more negative social determinants of health (e.g., low socioeconomic status, limited access to care, discrimination) than young White survivors.

The team will triangulate qualitative and quantitative responses from each participant to identify perceptions of the study’s feasibility and acceptability, chiefly measured by willingness to participate and the use of self-management strategies prescribed in the interventions. The team will also examine health-related outcomes (i.e., QOL, spiritual well-being, self-efficacy and social support) within and between intervention groups.

Upon completion of the study, the team will look to perform a larger, randomized controlled trial to determine efficacy and translate its findings to inform the development, implementation and dissemination/translation of multi-level QOL interventions and policy changes.

“This grant is building the foundation of my research career aimed at building healthy communities,” said Nolan. “My Y-AMBIENT intervention was adapted by applying the voices and stories of young AA breast cancer survivors. This pilot study will give us an indication of how my targeted intervention compares to enhanced usual care in these women, showing us the way forward to reduce disparities in cancer survivorship.”

“I’m ecstatic and honored to be trusted with this award,” said Nolan. “We at The Ohio State University believe that everyone deserves their best chance at living and living well, and ultimately this training and study will give me the tools to play my part as the change agent who helps cancer survivors attain wellness in their ‘new normal.’”   

May 26, 2020

The National Institutes of Health/National Institute of Nursing Research (NIH/NINR) has awarded a four-year, $1.6 million R01 grant to fund the study, “Reducing Cardiovascular Risk Factors in Black Young Adults.” The grant was awarded to Janna Stephens, PhD, RN, (PI) assistant professor at The Ohio State University College of Nursing’s Martha S. Pitzer Center for Women, Children and Youth. Co-investigators from Ohio State include Bernadette Melnyk, PhD, APRN-CNP, EBP-C, FAANP, FNAP, FAAN, and Alai Tan, PhD, of the College of Nursing and Carla Miller, PhD, of the College of Public Health. Other co-investigators include Lora Burke, PhD, of Pittsburgh University and Antoinette Perkins of Columbus State Community College.

The study focuses on developing strategies and interventions to assist young African American adults who attend community colleges in creating and sustaining improved health habits in order to reduce the risk of cardiovascular issues later in life.

Stephens and her team will recruit 256 African American community college students who are overweight or obese for the study. This understudied population is at very high risk for cardiovascular disease later in life.

Their goal is to provide these students with a personalized, culturally tailored health coaching program to promote heathy eating and increased exercise habits. During one year, Stephens and her team will track students via a smartphone application, conduct health coaching sessions and provide resources and information to help them eat healthily, increase physical activity and develop other health habits to achieve health, fitness and weight loss goals.

“I really enjoy working with the community college population and making connections with these at-risk students,” said Stephens. “I cannot wait to start working with my team and the students to teach them healthy lifestyle habits to prevent cardiovascular disease later in life!”

May 20, 2020

When researchers asked prospective study participants who they would like to see in videos promoting healthy lifestyle behaviors, the answer was unequivocal: They wanted to see themselves – that is, other mothers living in low-income households who were overweight or obese.

The researchers obliged. And the intervention they designed produced the desired results when it came to improving participants’ diet. As a group, the women in the study who watched the videos and talked to their peers over 16 weeks were more likely to have reduced their fat consumption than women in a comparison group who were given print materials about lifestyle change.

The participants were women who face stubborn health challenges – highly stressed overweight low-income mothers of young children who, for example, tend to retain 10 or more pounds of pregnancy weight after childbirth and are likely to eat high-fat foods. They are at risk for life-long obesity and potential problems for themselves and new babies if they become pregnant again.

“I asked them during focus groups who should be in the videos, and they said, ‘We want to see us. And our children. Do not lie to us and hire professionals, because we’ll be able to tell,’” said Mei-Wei Chang, lead author of the study and associate professor of nursing at The Ohio State University.

“They said, ‘We want to see them before the change and the struggles they had, and what happened after that.’”

Chang and colleagues identified two factors that led to the intervention’s success: The study was designed to appeal to the participants’ personal values and instill in these mothers enough confidence to take on the challenge of living a healthier life.

“My experience with this population is that they really want to make a change. Some might perceive that they don’t want to. But they do – they just don’t know how to,” Chang said.

The research is published online in the journal Appetite and will appear in the August print issue.

The two psychosocial factors Chang and colleagues examined in this study are known as autonomous motivation (what’s important in a person’s life) and self-efficacy (a person’s confidence in her ability to carry out a behavior or task). Previous research has shown that poverty can lead to low self-efficacy.

Autonomous motivation differs by population. In this study, the participants told researchers in focus groups before the intervention began that they wanted to be role models for their children. They hoped to be less stressed and happier, and to maintain good family relationships.

Chang recruited participants from the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC), which serves low-income pregnant, postpartum and breastfeeding women and children up to age 5. Those eligible for the program must have an annual household income no higher than 185 percent of the federal poverty line.

The mothers were between the ages of 18 and 39 and their body mass index ranged from 25.0 to 39.9 – from the lowest indicator of being overweight to just below the extreme obesity range. The intervention was aimed at preventing weight gain by promoting stress management, healthy eating and physical activity. This study analyzed only the diet-related results.

During the trial, the 212 participants randomized into the intervention group watched a total of 10 videos in which women like them gave testimonials about healthy eating and food preparation, managing their stress and being physically active.

In the videos, the women wore casual clothes and told their stories, unscripted. They demonstrated meal prep with familiar foods and showed that simple, practical steps – like reading food labels – could gradually lead to a healthier lifestyle.

“They talked about a lot of things I didn’t know,” said Chang, who has worked with women enrolled in WIC for about 20 years. “They spoke their mind about what was important – like how they mentally dealt with changing behavior but not losing weight. And about being afraid to fail.”

The participants also dialed in to 10 peer support group teleconferences over the course of the study.

In phone interviews, the researchers asked the mothers about what they were eating, their confidence in sticking to a low-fat diet and why they wanted to eat more healthfully.

Based on those surveys, the researchers determined that, compared to the group reading print materials, the mothers who watched videos and spoke with their peers reported larger increases in autonomous motivation and self-efficacy and a more significant decrease in fat intake after the 16-week intervention.

“Essentially, they said, ‘If she could do it, I could do it.’ That’s why we used peers to develop the intervention,” Chang said.

The researchers are still analyzing data related to physical activity results, and have found that the intervention’s emphasis on coping self-efficacy helped reduce participants’ stress. The videos are now part of WIC’s continuing education series for mothers.

This work was supported by the National Institutes of Health.

Co-authors included Alai Tan and Duane Wegener from Ohio State and Jiying Ling and Lorraine Robbins from Michigan State University.

May 14, 2020

New five-year, $2.8 million grant to study nurses’ workload in relation to NICU patient safety

COLUMBUS, Ohio – Heather Tubbs Cooley, PhD, RN, FAAN at The Ohio State University College of Nursing's Martha S. Pitzer Center for Women, Children and Youth is the Principal Investigator (PI) for a $2.8 million R01 grant funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH)/National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD).

This R01 will fund the study, “Enhancing Nursing Care Reliability in Neonatal Intensive Care Units.” Co-investigators include the College of Nursing’s Rita Pickler, PhD, RN, FAAN; Thomas Bartman, MD, PhD, from Nationwide Children’s Hospital and other co-investigators from Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, Johns Hopkins University, and University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Tubbs Cooley and her team discovered that NICU nurses regularly miss essential care linked to neonatal safety outcomes due to their everyday workloads. With this grant, the team will now replicate this work in a larger and more heterogeneous sample of units, nurses and patients to assess strategies for workload monitoring in this patient population.

“Beyond staffing ratios and infant acuity measures, subjective workload showed the strongest correlation to care reliability,” said Tubbs Cooley. “The goal of our study is to monitor nurse workload and broaden our current understanding of its effects on care reliability.”

The team will enroll up to 210 nurses in five NICUs to report on workload and care reliability for nearly 820 infants over 1,120 shifts.

They will evaluate differential effects of objective and subjective nurse workload on care reliability in NICUs and examine relationships between shift-level factors and nurses’ subjective workload ratings. The validity of aggregating nurses’ subjective workload ratings within a shift to inform real-time measurement strategies will also be evaluated.

Tubbs Cooley and her team hope their research will lead to a better understanding of NICU nurse workloads. If they are successful, they will leverage the knowledge to improve the safety and care of NICU patients by advancing workload measurement, monitoring and intervention.

April 17, 2018
Second largest gift in the college’s history will support faculty and PhD student research, as well as renovations for the center.

The Pitzer Family Foundation has pledged a transformational $3 million gift to The Ohio State University College of Nursing in memory of former faculty member and alumna Martha S. Pitzer, who earned her bachelor of science in nursing in 1974 and her master of science in nursing in 1976. In recognition of Pitzer’s passion for women and children’s health and pending The Ohio State University Board of Trustee approval, the family’s gift will establish the Martha S. Pitzer Center for Women, Children and Youth and fund cutting-edge research projects that target the improvement of health and well-being outcomes of vulnerable populations and its translation into real-world settings.  

“This generous gift will provide support to our world-class nurse scientists and PhD students for their innovative research that seeks to develop real-world solutions for some of the most prevalent health and well-being problems affecting women, children and adolescents,” said Bernadette Melnyk, PhD, RN, CPNP/PMHNP, FAANP, FNAP, FAAN, vice president for health promotion, university chief wellness officer and dean of the College of Nursing. “We are incredibly grateful to Martha’s husband, Russ, and the entire Pitzer family for their generosity and support of this important work. Naming the center in memory of Martha honors her legacy as a passionate advocate and specialist in women and children’s health.” 

The mission of the Martha S. Pitzer Center for Women, Children and Youth is to build outstanding research teams of expert faculty and doctoral students that generate new knowledge and develop evidence-based interventions that can be translated into lifesaving action. This gift will help the center emerge as the world’s leader in generating innovative research and scaling it swiftly to enhance population health and well-being for women, children and youth. 

The College of Nursing plans to celebrate the Pitzer family and their lifesaving investment with a special reception later this year.

October 02, 2017

A newly established endowed professorship at The Ohio State University College of Nursing will help improve the health outcomes of one of today’s most at-risk populations – children and adolescents.

Through a generous $1 million gift from FloAnn and John Easton, The FloAnn Sours Easton Professorship of Child and Adolescent Health will support the recruitment of a nationally recognized expert in pediatric nursing. This endowed professorship will provide resources to fund a distinguished faculty member's research and enable the professor to pursue rigorous intervention research to improve the health of children and adolescents. This position also will serve a leadership role within the college’s Center for Women, Children and Youth.

“Through this generous gift, our college can attract a nationally esteemed scholar whose cutting-edge work will serve to make a significant impact on the health and wellness of our nation’s greatest resource – our children,” said Dean Bernadette Melnyk, PhD, RN, CPNP/PMHNP, FAANP, FNAP, FAAN, associate vice president for health promotion and university chief wellness officer. “Furthermore, this individual will serve as a mentor to our faculty and students, and will further strengthen the strong community partnerships the college has with various healthcare networks. We are so thankful for FloAnn and John’s very generous support.”

Children and teens today face a multitude of health problems, making it the first time in history that children are predicted to lead a shorter lifespan than their parents. Approximately 500,000 babies are born prematurely every year, resulting in longterm, adverse health and behavioral outcomes. Overweight and obesity—commonly associated with diabetes, asthma and cardiovascular problems—are significant health problems that now affect approximately one-third of all children and teens. Additionally, mental health problems affect one in four children, yet less than 25 percent receive any treatment. The increasing prevalence of multiple chronic conditions in children and teens is also significant, especially among minorities and those living in poverty.

A strong base of intervention research is needed, yet funding for pediatric research has been limited compared to investments in adult and older adult conditions. The National Institute of Health’s (NIH) funding of pediatric studies recently declined to 11.3 percent of its total expenditures even though children represent 20 percent of the United States population. As a result, a recent report by the Institute of Medicine calls for more research with children and youth. The FloAnn Sours Easton Professorship of Child and Adolescent Health will support such research and help the college’s Center for Women, Children and Youth make a lasting difference in the care and health outcomes of today’s young people.

FloAnn Easton is a 1962 graduate of the College of Nursing, and both FloAnn and John serve as volunteers on the College of Nursing’s But For Ohio State capital campaign committee. As a campaign priority, this gift to support an endowed professorship will be the first of its kind for the But For Ohio State campaign within the College of Nursing.

September 13, 2016

A new speaker series in the College of Nursing will provide opportunities for discussion and collaboration among the nurse scientists and researchers in the college and other health sciences colleges. Hosted by the Martha S. Pitzer Center for Women, Children and Youth (MSPCWCY), the Lean-In speaker series inspires thinking, promotes discussion and stimulates research collaboration. The series will offer conversations that are “so good, you want to lean in and hear what is being said,” explained Karen Patricia Williams, PhD, distinguished professor of women’s health and director of the MSPCWCY.

The center is promoting several different programs throughout the year to encourage collaboration from mentoring junior faculty to help them understand the process of gaining tenure to providing regular opportunities for faculty to present recently published papers.

“We are trying to build more of a team approach to science,” Williams said. “Nurses in hospitals are accustomed to working in teams. Traditional academic nursing tended to be more independent, and that model is passé. With knowledge being generated so quickly, we have to engage in collaborative research. I think that understanding what others are doing helps build productive collaborations that will advance our research.”

The first Lean-In speaker of the year will be LeeAnne Roman, PhD, MSN, RN, associate professor in the department of obstetrics, gynecology and reproductive biology in the College of Human Medicine at Michigan State University. Roman will speak on “Improving the Health and Health Care of Medicaid-insured Pregnant Women and Their Infants” on Monday, Sept. 19, from noon to 1 p.m. in Room 198 in Newton Hall, located at 1585 Neil Ave. Roman specializes in health-services research primarily focused on maternal and child health and health disparities among Medicaid-insured families. Her research is conducted in collaboration with multiple partners, health systems, health departments and community agencies.

The second talk in the series "Can You Hear Me Now?"  will be presented by Karon F. Cook, PhD, research professor in the department of medical social sciences at the Feinberg School of Medicine at Northwestern University, on Monday, Oct. 3, from noon to 1 p.m. in Room 198 in Newton Hall. Cook has made substantial contributions to research of health outcomes, including the National Institutes of Health-supported Patient-Reported Outcomes Measurement Information System. Her work focuses on modern psychometric approaches and in recent years on the measurement of self-reported pain and its correlates.