Paula Tanabe, PhD, RN, MPH, FAEN, FAAN, is an Associate Professor in the Schools of Nursing and Medicine and health services and clinical researcher. Dr. Tanabe’s program of research focuses on improving systems of healthcare and patient outcomes for persons with sickle cell disease. Dr. Tanabe has a strong focus on improving emergency department care for this population and has conducted many investigations in this area. Dr. Tanabe currently has AHRQ funding to disseminate decision support tools to primary care and emergency department providers throughout North Carolina and portions of South Carolina. These tools were based upon the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute evidence-based recommendations for the treatment of sickle cell disease. Dr. Tanabe is also the co-PI for the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute “Sickle Cell Disease Implementation Consortium, U01”. The consortium includes eight centers from across the United States. Each center will conduct a comprehensive assessment of barriers to care and enroll 300 patients in a registry and randomized controlled trial. She was previously assistant director of a T32 post-doctoral fellowship in health services research at Northwestern University. Her methodological expertise includes prospective multi-site trials, survey methods, qualitative research, quality improvement and learning collaboratives, and retrospective structured medical record reviews. Dr. Tanabe is a member of the Emergency Severity Index (ESI) Triage Research Team that develops educational tools to treat ED providers on the use of ESI.
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Paula Tanabe, PhD, MSN, MPH, RN, FAEN, FAAN
Academic Program Affiliations
- PhD in Nursing Program
- MPH - Northwestern University
- PhD - University of Illinois at Chicago
- MSN - Loyola University, Chicago
- BS - Rush University
Dr. Tanabe has conducted investigations aimed at improving pain management in the emergency department, with a strong focus on patients with sickle cell disease. Dr. Tanabe developed the Emergency Department Sickle Cell Assessment of Needs and Strengths (ED-SCANS), a decision support tool aimed at improving the quality of care provided to adults with sickle cell disease in the ED setting.
Awards and Honors
- 2017 || Outstanding PhD Faculty Award, Duke University School of Nursing
- 2015 || 2015 Health Care Hero in Nursing, Triangle Business Journal
- 2013 || Selected participant, Chancellor’s Clinical Leadership in Academic Medicine Program (CCHAMP), 2014 cohort, Duke Medicine Chancellor's Cabinet
- 2012 || Fellow, American Academy of Nursing
- 2012 || Fellow, Academy of Emergency Nursing, National Emergency Nurses Association
- 2007 || Mayday Pain and Society Fellow – A Media and Policy Initiative, The Mayday Fund
- 2007 || Outstanding Oral Research Presentation, Spring Symposium, Illinois College of Emergency Physicians
- 2004 || Post-Doctoral Research Fellow, NRSA, nstitute for Health Services Research and Policy Studies, Dept Medicine, Feinberg School of Medicine, Northwestern University
- 2003 || Nursing Practice Award, National Emergency Nurses Association
- 2002 || Resident Research Award, 1st place, Illinois College of Emergency Physicians Resident Academic Forum, Oak Brook, IL
- 2002 || Nursing Researcher Award, National Emergency Nurses Association
- 1997 || Research Facilitation Award, National Emergency Nurses Association
- 1996 || Doctoral Scholarship, National Emergency Nurses Association
- 1992 || Nursing Educator Award, Sigma Theta Tau, Gamma Phi Chapter
- 1987 || Inducted, Sigma Theta Tau
Areas of Expertise
- Acute / Critical Care
- Chronic Illness
- Health Disparities
- Research Methods
Areas of Interest
• Health services research
• Emergency department pain management
• Sickle cell disease
• Triage systems
• Pain management
2017 -- PubMed # : 28334590 A Prospective Emergency Department Quality Improvement Project to Improve the Treatment of Vaso-Occlusive Crisis in Sickle Cell Disease: Lessons Learned. Jt Comm J Qual Patient Saf. 43(3); 116-126
2017 -- PubMed # : 27482992 Shift in Emergency Department Provider Attitudes Toward Patients With Sickle Cell Disease. Adv Emerg Nurs J. 38(3); 199-212
2015 -- Improving preoperative cardiac assessment efficiency by using the American College of Cardiology/American Heart Association Guidelines: A quality improvement project Clinical Scholars Review. October, 2015 8(2); 164-171
2015 -- PubMed # : 25639238 Evidence gaps in the management of sickle cell disease: A summary of needed research. Am J Hematol. April, 2015 90(4); 273-5
2014 -- PubMed # : 25356894 Attitudes toward patients with sickle cell disease in a multicenter sample of emergency department providers. Adv Emerg Nurs J. Oct-Dec, 2014 36(4); 335-47
2014 -- PubMed # : 25241635 Safety of an ED High-Dose Opioid Protocol for Sickle Cell Disease Pain. J Emerg Nurs. September, 2014 36(4); 335-47
2014 -- PubMed # : 25203083 Management of sickle cell disease: summary of the 2014 evidence-based report by expert panel members. JAMA. September, 2014 312(10); 1033-48
2014 -- PubMed # : 25035751 Application of a proactive risk analysis to emergency department sickle cell care. West J Emerg Med. July, 2014 15(4); 446-58
Grant Funding (Selected)
Disseminating NIH Evidence Based Sickle Cell Recommendations in North CarolinaAgency for Healthcare Research and QualityR18 RHS024501A09/2016 to 08/2020
In 2014, the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute published evidence based guidelines for the treatment of sickle cell disease. In this project the team will disseminate a toolbox of decision support tools based upon the
recommendations to primary care physicians and ED providers in North Carolina. A new model of care will be implemented that supports co-management between primary care and SCD specialists, with care coordination to include the ED.
Eliminating Suffering for Sickle Cell Disease PatientsCenters for Medicaid and Medicare Services, awarded to Georgia Medical Care Foundation, an Alliant CompanySpecial Innovation Project09/2016 to 08/2018Role: Consultant
The purpose of this project is to conduct a national learning collaborative with emergency departments across the United States. The goal is for participating centers to improve emergency department care for individuals with sickle cell disease.
Improving SCD Care using Web-based Guidelines, Nurse Care Managers and Peer Mentors in Primary Care and Emergency Departments in Central North CarolinaSNIH- NHLBIU01HL13396408/2016 to 06/2022Role: Co-PI
Sickle cell disease is a complex medial illness associated with many acute and chronic complications which would benefit from co-management between primary care physicians, sickle cell experts, and emergency
departments. We will provide web based decision aids to providers, nurse care managers and patient/peer coaches to improve outcomes for individuals with sickle cell disease. We aim to improve patient outcomes as well as shift healthcare use from emergency departments and specialty care only, to primary and specialty care. We will also conduct a community needs assessment and participate in the NHLBI registry associated with the project.
A Mindfulness-based Intervention For Pain Catastrophizing In Sickle Cell DiseaseNational Institutes of Health1F31-NR014954-0109/2014 to 08/2017
This project will be the first randomized controlled trial (RCT) of mindfulness-based stress reduction to reduce pain catastrophizing, and improve quality of life for sickle cell disease patients with chronic pain.
Comparing Acute Pain Management Protocols for Patients with Sickle Cell DiseaseNational Institutes of Health1R34-HL121224-01A109/2014 to 06/2016
Using Web-Based Technology to Improve Knowledge of Sickle Cell Disease for Emergency Department ProvidersDuke University SON CONCEPT Office CATALYST Award06/2014 to 05/2015Role: PI
Project Goal: We will to conduct a formal evaluation of the website, and develop four new learning modules. As we build new modules, we will significantly increase the interactivity and use of technology to engage the learner.
Improving Healthcare for Individuals and Families Living with Sickle Cell DiseaseNational Institutes of Health1R13-MD008817-0104/2014 to 03/2015Role: PI
Improving the management of persons with sickle cell disease in the emergency department settingNorth Carolina Community of Care Network, Inc.02/2014 to 02/2015
Improving Emergency Department Management of Adults with Sickle Cell DiseaseAgency for Healthcare Research and QualityR18-HS019646-01A109/2011 to 07/2014
This researching implementation and change while improving quality project will redesign the process of emergency department (ED) management for adults with sickle cell disease (SCD). The project will use the Failure Modes, Effects, and Criticality Analysis (FMECA) to identify the vulnerabilities, risks, and weak points (failures) in the systems and processes involved in using the Emergency Department Sickle Cell Assessment of Needs and Strengths (ED-SCANS), a decision support tool developed to improve the quality of care for adults with SCD. The root causes of each failure will be identified, then redesigned. The aims for the proposed project are to: (1) conduct a proactive risk assessment, FMECA of the workflow and operational systems and processes involved in four key decisions of the ED-SCANS regarding evaluation and management of SCD patients; (2) develop and implement standardized processes and interventions for each of the four decisions of the ED-SCANS; (3) conduct a formal program evaluation of the quality improvement implementation at each site; and (4) develop a toolbox for dissemination and implementation of effective systems and processes to support use of the ED-SCANS in EDs at additional low-resource US hospitals.
Region 4 Heritable Disorders - HemoglobinopathiesMichigan Public Health Institute2129-K-38821-115-50420007/2011 to 05/2012
Paula Tanabe recently conducted the following presentations:
"Bridging Population Health Science and Management Panel," Panel Member at the Population Health Symposium, Duke University.
"Sickle Cell in the Emergency Department: A Fresh Perspective and New Opportunities," at the New York State Setting the Pace Emergency Nurses Conference in New York.
"Vaso-occulusive Episodes in the Emergency Department: Pain Assessment, Treatment, Disposition and Referral," at the UNC-CH Emergency Medicine Residents Conference in Chapel Hill, NC.
Paula Tanabe was recently appointed a standing study section member for the "National Institutes of Health: NHLBI Mentored Clinical and Basic Science Study Section" grant.
PhD student Dominique Bulgin and Paula Tanabe recently published an article entitled "Stigma of Sickle Cell Disease: A Systematic Review" in Issues in Mental Health Nursing. Co-authors include experts from UNC-Chapel Hill.
“Bridging Population Health at Duke” was the title of the inaugural Population Health Symposium spearheaded by Health Affairs Chancellor Eugene Washington. Keynote speaker Clay Johnston, dean of the new Dell School of Medicine at the University of Texas at Austin, kicked off the event. Paula Tanabe, discussing her Sickle Cell Disease research, was among a panel of speakers sharing approaches to “Bridging (Population Health) Management and Science.” Donna Biederman served on the event planning group that began coordinating the event nearly a year prior.
PhD student Dominique Bulgin and Paula Tanabe recently published an article entitled "Twelve tips for teaching a comprehensive disease-focused course with a global perspective: A sickle cell disease example" in Medical Teacher. Co-authors include experts from Duke University and The University of the West Indies.
Paula Tanabe recently conducted a number of webinars. The first entitled "Comparing Acute Pain Management Protocols for Patients with Sickle Cell Disease" for the Sickle Cell Quality Improvement Project Alliant Quality, funded by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid. The second, a multi-part series entitled "Emergency Severity Index Learning Collaborative Sessions" for the Ministry of Health in Jamaica.
Paula Tanabe and Susan Silva recently published an article in The American Journal of Hematology entitled "A Randomized Controlled Trial Comparing Two Vaso-occlusive Episode (VOE) Protocols in Sickle Cell Disease (SCD)." Co authors include experts from Duke University School of Medicine, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, Feinberg School of Medicine, Duke University Center for Health Services Research, and Durham VAMC.
Paula Tanabe recently presented at the SCDIC Meeting with the National Institutes of Health, National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute in Bethesda, Maryland. Her presentation was entitled " Using the Emergency Department to Screen & Refer Individuals with SCD for Social Behavioral Health Needs."
In addition, she presented on "Comparing Acute Pain Management Protocols for the Treatment of Vaso-ococclusive Crisis in Sickle Cell Disease." at Mt. Sinai Hospital Nursing Grand Rounds in New York City.
Congratulations to PhD student Dominque Bulgin and her mentor Paula Tanabe who have received an award for their NIH Fellowship proposal “Understanding the Intersection of Stigma and Self-Management in Sickle Cell Disease." This award is for a three-year period and was awarded for $116,208.