You are here

Ruth A. Anderson, PhD, MSN, MA, RN, FAAN

Professor Emerita

Dr. Anderson is Virginia Stone Professor of Nursing and a Senior Fellow in the Duke University Center for Aging and Human Development. She is also a Research Development Coordinator in the Office of Research Affairs in the School of Nursing. She earned a BSN from Stockton State College in New Jersey, a Master of Science in Gerontological Nursing and Master of Arts in Social Gerontology from the University of Pennsylvania, and the PhD in nursing with a business minor from The University of Texas at Austin. She has extensive experience teaching graduate courses in managing complex healthcare systems, chronic illness, and outcomes in health care.

Dr. Anderson's scholarship is dedicated to improving management of nursing homes, an area of rapidly growing need. Her research has been interdisciplinary from its inception, and she has collaborated with scholars at Duke and across the country in schools of nursing, business, economics, engineering and medicine. She pioneered the application of complexity theory and management science in nursing in analysis of the institutional environment of the nursing home. Her studies that show the relationships between patient outcomes and organizational structure, interpersonal relationships of staff and families, patterns of staff communication, and employee turnover have given researchers new tools for implementing evidence-based changes in the care delivery practices in long term care facilities.

Academic Program Affiliations

  • PhD in Nursing Program
  • Doctor of Nursing Practice Program


  • PhD - The University of Texas at Austin School of Nursing
  • MA - University of Pennsylvania, Faculty of Arts and Sciences
  • MSN - University of Pennsylvania, School of Nursing
  • BSN - Stockton State College (NJ)

Research Interests

My research program is concerned with understanding and improving nursing management practices and their impact on outcomes, with a particular interest in resident outcomes in nursing homes. I use complexity science, organizational and nursing theory to bring together the constructs of communication and decision processes, relationship and interaction, organizational structures, context, resource allocation and health care outcomes. In my previously NIH/NINR funded study, Outcomes of Nursing Management Practice in Nursing Homes, I worked with a multidisciplinary team to explore relationship patterns and management practices that enable nursing homes to attain high quality resident outcomes in a series of eight comparative case studies, identifying management practices that are distributed through all levels of workers and appear to build capacity for high quality outcomes. From these findings, we developed a new intervention for improving staff interactions and information exchange in long term care settings. In a competing continuation NINR-funded R01, my team and I are now testing this intervention in 16 community nursing homes for its impact on reducing patient falls; our team is also funded by the VA (Colón-Emeric, PI) to test the intervention in four Community Living Centers. I have expertise in both quantitative and qualitative research methods.

Awards and Honors

  • 2015 || Inductee, Nurse Researcher Hall of Fame, Sigma Theta Tau International
  • 2014 || Outstanding Author Contribution in the 2014 Emerald Literati Network Awards for Excellence, Emerald Group Publishing, Ltd
  • 2012 || Outstanding PhD Faculty Award, Duke University School of Nursing
  • 2011 || Distinguished Contributions to Nursing Science Award, Duke University School of Nursing
  • 2010 || Virginia Stone Professor of Nursing, Duke University School of Nursing
  • 2004 || Science Advisory Board, The Plexus Institute
  • 2003 || Fellow, American Academy of Nursing
  • 2002 || Annual Meeting Best Paper Award (top ten percent of submissions), Academy of Management
  • 2000 || Member, Council for the Advancement of Nursing Science
  • 1997 || Ed and Molly Smith Fellow in Nursing, The University of Texas at Austin, School of Nursing
  • 1997 || Virginia Henderson Fellow, Sigma Theta Tau, International Honor Society of Nursing
  • 1991 || Luci Baines Johnson Fellow in Nursing, The University of Texas at Austin, School of Nursing
  • 1990 || Faculty Research Award, The University of Texas at Austin, School of Nursing
  • 1989 || American Organization of Nurse Executives’ Scholar, The American Nurses’ Foundation
  • 1989 || Luci Baines Johnson Fellow in Nursing, The University of Texas at Austin, School of Nursing
  • 1987 || Member, Academy of Management
  • 1985 || Inducted, Beta Gamma Sigma, National Scholastic Honor Society (Business & Administration)
  • 1985 || Inducted, The Honor Society of Phi Kappa Phi
  • 1981 || Inducted, Sigma Theta Tau, International Honor Society of Nursing

Areas of Expertise

  • Gerontology
  • Nursing and Health Care Leadership
  • Translational Research

Areas of Interest

Care Systems for Chronic Illness

Representative Publications

  • 2015 -- PubMed # : 25647829 Anderson, R. A. and Bailey Jr, D. E. and Wu, B. and Corazzini, K. and McConnell, E. S. and Thygeson, N. M. and Docherty, S. L. Adaptive Leadership Framework for Chronic Illness: Framing a Research Agenda for Transforming Care Delivery. ANS Adv Nurs Sci.
  • 2015 -- PubMed # : 25616732 Hall, R. K. and Landerman, L. R. and O'Hare, A. M. and Anderson, R. A. and Colón-Emeric, C. S. Chronic kidney disease and recurrent falls in nursing home residents: A retrospective cohort study. Geriatr Nurs.
  • 2015 -- PubMed # : 25596000 Cary, M. and Baernholdt, M. and Anderson, R. and Merwin, E. Performance-based Outcomes of Inpatient Rehabilitation Facilities Treating Hip Fracture Patients in the United States. Arch Phys Med Rehabil. January 13, 2015 Epub ahead of print
  • 2014 -- Song, Y. and Anderson, R. A. and Corazzini, K. N. and Wu, B. Staff characteristics and care in Chinese nursing homes: A systematic literature review International Journal of Nursing Sciences. December, 2014 1(4); 423-436
  • 2014 -- PubMed # : 25407138 Leykum, L. K. and Lanham, H. J. and Pugh, J. A. and Parchman, M. and Anderson, R. A. and Crabtree, B. F. and Nutting, P. A. and Miller, W. L. and Stange, K. C. and McDaniel, R. R. Manifestations and implications of uncertainty for improving healthcare systems: an analysis of observational and interventional studies grounded in complexity science. Implement Sci. December, 2014 9(1); 165
  • 2014 -- Colón-Emeric, C. and Anderson, R. A. The leadership we need in PA/LTC Caring for the Ages. December, 2014 15(12);
  • 2014 -- Corazzini, K. N. and Anderson, R. A. Adaptive leadership and person-centered care: A new approach to solving problems. North Carolina Medical Journal. September/October, 2014 75(5); 352-354
  • 2014 -- Day, L. and Turner, K. and Anderson, R. A. and Mueller, C. and McConnell, E. S. and Corazzini, K. N. Teaching delegation to RN students. Journal of Nursing Regulation. July, 2014 5(2); 10-15
  • 2014 -- Yap, T. L. and Kennerly, S. and Corazzini, K. and Porter, K. and Toles, M. and Anderson, R. A. Evaluation of cueing innovation for pressure ulcer prevention using staff focus groups. Healthcare. July 25, 2014 2(3); 299-314
  • 2014 -- PubMed # : 24903706 Anderson, R. A. and Toles, M. P. and Corazzini, K. and McDaniel, R. R. and Colón-Emeric, C. Local interaction strategies and capacity for better care in nursing homes: a multiple case study. BMC Health Serv Res. June, 2014 14 244 PMC4059721


Grant Funding (Selected)

  • Center for Adaptive Leadership in Cognitive/Affective Symptom Science

    National Institutes of Health
    09/2012 to 06/2017

    The proposed Center of Excellence (P30), “Adaptive Leadership for Cognitive/Affective Symptom Science (ADAPT) at Duke University School of Nursing (DUSON), will promote biobehavioral research to advance symptom science using a new lens — the Adaptive Leadership (AL) framework — to conceptualize and study cognitive/affective symptoms, and/or intervene in ways that promote patients’ and their family caregivers’ adaptive abilities.

  • Administrative Core

    National Institutes of Health
    09/2012 to 06/2017
  • Outcomes of Nursing Management Practice in Nursing Homes

    National Institutes of Health
    09/2011 to 06/2016
    Role: co-PI

    This research will test the benefit of a new staff interaction intervention (CONNECT) over and above a falls quality improvement intervention in reducing patient fall rates in nursing homes.

  • Family Perceptions of Strategies to Facilitate End-of-Life Decisions

    NIH, National Institute of Nursing Research
    08/2012 to 07/2014
    Role: Co-Mentor

    Project Goal: Pre-doctoral study to explore how family members respond to nursing strategies to support EOL decision-making.

  • Evaluation of the Nursing Culture Assessment Tool as a basis for improving prevention of pressure ulcers in long-term care

    John A. Hartford Foundation Building Academic Geriatric Nursing Capacity: Claire M. Fagin Fellowship award
    07/2012 to 06/2014
    Role: Co-Mentor

    The purpose of the research is to refine the previously developed Nursing Culture Assessment Tool (NCAT) by administering it to nursing staff in contextually different long-term care settings, to determine the clinical relevance of the NCAT in the context of PU prevention care practices by re-examining its content validity in this context and exploring focus group perspectives on its accuracy. Use these findings to guide item refinement and/or development of a protocol manual to standardize NCAT use in future clinical trials.

  • Comparison of Careful Hand Feeding Techniques for Older Persons with Dementia

    John A. Hartford Foundation Building Academic Geriatric Nursing Capacity: Claire M. Fagin Fellowship award
    07/2012 to 06/2014
    Role: Co-Mentor
  • CONNECT for Better Falls Prevention in VA Community Living Center

    Veterans Affairs Health Services Research and Development
    EDU 08-417
    08/2009 to 07/2012
    Role: Co-investigator

    In this longitudinal, randomized, controlled trial using multiple levels of analysis, we will compare the uptake of fall risk factor reduction practices and related patient fall-related outcomes in nursing homes, under two approaches to education: (1) FALLS, which is delivered using content-focused approaches to education including self-instructional modules, an in-house falls program coordinator, academic detailing sessions and audit and feedback and (2) FALLS as described above, plus CONNECT, which is delivered using learner-centered approaches and is intended to increase information exchange among staff of all levels and disciplines, increase direct care nursing providers’ participation in decision-making, and increase cognitive diversity when implementing evidence-based care practices.

  • Compassion Fatigue in Adult Daughter Caregivers

    National Institutes of Health
    09/2011 to 08/2013
    Role: co-PI

    Support for doctoral research for Jennifer R. Day

  • Transitional Care for Post-Acute Residents in Nursing Homes

    John A. Hartford Foundation
    07/2011 to 06/2013
    Role: Co-PI
  • Regulating Licensed Nursing Practice in Nursing Homes: How RN and LPN Scopes of Practice Are Enacted

    National Council for State Boards of Nursing
    NCSBN R30010
    10/2010 to 09/2012
    Role: Co-Investigator

    To describe practice patterns of RNs and LPNs used to implement their scope of practice, to compare these practice patterns between two states, and to develop a facility-level tool to measure these patterns.


Friday, July 22, 2016

Michael Cary, Melissa Batchelor-Murphy, Tracey Yap, Yuting Song, Amber Anderson and Andrew Burd co-authored an article entitled "Sustaining complex interventions in long-term care: a qualitative study of direct care staff and managers" in the July issue of Implementation Science. Other co-authors included Cathleen Colon-Emeric and Rasheeda Hall with Duke School of Medicine, and professor Emerita Ruth Anderson.

Friday, February 12, 2016

Michael Cary along with colleagues Wei Pan, Rick Sloane, Janet Bettger, Beth Merwin, Ruth Anderson, and Duke Medicine's Helen Hoenig recently published an article entitled "Self-care and Mobility following Post-Acute Rehabilitation for Older Adults with Hip Fracture: A Multilevel Analysis" in the January issue of Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Ruth Anderson, PhD, MSN, MA, RN, FAAN, Virginia Stone Professor of Nursing and co-director of the ADAPT Center, and Diane Holditch-Davis, PhD, RN, FAAN, Marcus E. Hobbs Distinguished Professor of Nursing and associate dean for Research Affairs, are two of 19 honorees who will be inducted into the Sigma Theta Tau International (STTI) 2015 Nurse Researcher Hall of Fame.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Ruth Anderson, Chip Bailey, Bei Wu, Kirsten Corazzini, Ellie McConnell and Sharron Docherty have a paper entitled "Adaptive Leadership framework for chronic illness: Framing a research agenda" that has been published in Advances in Nursing Science. This paper will appear in the Focused issue on "Models of Care for the Future."

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Ruth Anderson, Michael Cary and Beth Merwin co-authored an article entitled "Performance-based outcomes of inpatient rehabilitation facilities treating hip fracture patients in the United States" that has been published in the Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation.

Friday, November 21, 2014

PhD student Yuting Song published a paper in collaboration with her mentors Ruth Anderson, Kirsten Corazzini and Bei Wu entitled "Staff characteristics and care in Chinese nursing homes: A systematic Literature review" in the International Journal of Nursing Sciences.

Friday, October 10, 2014

The National League for Nursing recently published "A Vision for Recognition of the Role of Licensed Practical/Vocational Nurses in Advancing the Nation's Health," which extensively draws upon the work of a research team led by Faculty PI Kirsten Corazzini on a study funded by the National Council of State Boards of Nursing. The works cited are:

Friday, September 26, 2014

Ruth Anderson presented two workshops on grant writing to P30 collaborators, PhD students and post-doctoral fellows at Emory University School of Nursing's P30 Center for Neurocognitive Studies (CNS). The P30 CNS and Duke’s Adapt Center P30 have had sustained collaborations since their inceptions in 2012.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Ruth Anderson and Kirsten Corazzini have published an article entitled "Adaptive leadership and person-centered care: A new approach to solving problems" in the September/October 2014 issue of the North Carolina Medical Journal.