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Sharron L. Docherty, PhD, PNP-BC, FAAN

Associate Professor in the School of Nursing
Director, ADAPT Center for Cognitive/Affective Symptom Science
(919) 668-3836
3135 Pearson Building

Sharron Docherty, Associate Professor, joined the faculty of the Duke University School of Nursing in 2002. She has practiced as a Pediatric Nurse Practitioner and served as the director of the pediatric acute/chronic care nurse practitioner specialties from 2002-2010. She received her BScN from the University of Windsor, her MScN from the University of Western Ontario, and earned her PhD in Nursing at UNC-Chapel Hill in 1999.

Dr. Docherty is the Co-Director of the ADAPT Center for Excellence in Cognitive/Affective Symptom Science and a Senior Scientist in the Oncology Nursing Center of Excellence at the Duke Cancer Institute. At UNC-CH, she is adjunct faculty in School of Nursing and mentor faculty for the Center for Developmental Science. Dr. Docherty is a Fellow of the American Academy of Nursing. She is also a member of NAPNAP (National Association of Pediatric Nurse Practitioners), Society for Research in Child Development, Southern Nursing Research Society, and Sigma Theta Tau.

Academic Program Affiliations

  • PhD in Nursing Program
  • Doctor of Nursing Practice Program
  • Master of Science in Nursing Program


  • PhD - University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill School of Nursing
  • MScN - University of Western Ontario
  • BScN - University of Windsor

Research Interests

Awards and Honors

  • 2014 || 2014 SNRS Mid-Career Researcher Award, Southern Nursing Research Society (SNRS)
  • 2013 || Fellow, American Academy of Nursing
  • 2008 || Donna Wong Pediatric Nursing Writers Award, Pediatric Nursing Journal
  • 2000 || Participant, Serrambi, Brazil Summer School, Center for Developmental Science
  • 1997 || Elizabeth Scott Carrington Scholarship, School of Nursing ($2500), University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
  • 1997 || Predoctoral Training Fellowship, Carolina Consortium on Human Development ($8000), University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill ($8000)
  • 1996 || Linda Waring Matthews Oncology Nursing Scholarship, UNC School of Nursing
  • 1995 || Cancer Education Program Assistantship, UNC-CH, Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center
  • 1994 || Dr. Alfreda Simons Kartha Excellence in Nursing Education Award, Sigma Theta Tau International Honour Society of Nursing - Iota Omicron Chapter
  • 1994 || Faculty of Nursing Doctoral Study Award ($1000), University of Western Ontario
  • 1994 || Hospital for Sick Children Foundation Fellowship, Canadian Nurses Foundation
  • 1989 || Inducted, Sigma Theta Tau, Iota Omicron Chapter
  • 1985 || Undergraduate Class Valedictorian, University of Windsor, University of Windsor

Areas of Expertise

  • Pediatric Nursing
  • Research Methods

Areas of Interest

Quality of Life of Children and Families with Life-Threatening Illness
a. Substantive:
• Parental Caregivers of Children Post Stem Cell Transplant
• Symptom Distress in Children with Cancer
• Symptom Distress in Chronically Ill Children
• Decision Making for Children with Life-Threatening Illnesses
• Palliative Care for Children with Life-Threatening Illnesses
b. Methodological
• Longitudinal Designs and Analysis
• Case Study Design and Analysis
• Qualitative and Mixed Method Design and Analysis
• Visualization Methods of Analysis
• Biological Markers of Stress in Ill Children
• Interviewing Children

Representative Publications

  • 2015 -- PubMed # : 26250061 Redeker, N. S. and Anderson, R. and Bakken, S. and Corwin, E. and Docherty, S. and Dorsey, S. G. and Heitkemper, M. and McCloskey, D. J. and Moore, S. and Pullen, C. and Rapkin, B. and Schiffman, R. and Waldrop-Valverde, D. and Grady, P. Advancing Symptom Science Through Use of Common Data Elements. J Nurs Scholarsh. September, 2015 47(5); 379-88 PMC4618317
  • 2015 -- PubMed # : 26210197 Docherty, S. L. and Kayle, M. and Maslow, G. R. and Santacroce, S. J. The Adolescent and Young Adult with Cancer: A Developmental Life Course Perspective. Semin Oncol Nurs. 31(3); 186-96
  • 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. April-June, 2015 38(2); 83-95 PMC4417005
  • 2015 -- PubMed # : 25721716 Brooks, J. L. and Holditch-Davis, D. and Docherty, S. L. and Theodorou, C. S. Birthing and Parenting a Premature Infant in a Cultural Context. Qual Health Res. February, 2015 Epub ahead of print
  • 2014 -- PubMed # : 25057001 McLaughlin, C. A. and Hockenberry, M. J. and Kurtzberg, J. and Hueckel, R. and Martin, P. L. and Docherty, S. L. Standardization of health care provider competencies for intrathecal access procedures. J Pediatr Oncol Nurs. Nov-Dec, 2014 31(6); 304-16
  • 2014 -- PubMed # : 25365282 Caiola, C. and Docherty, S. L. and Relf, M. and Barroso, J. Using an intersectional approach to study the impact of social determinants of health for African American mothers living with HIV. ANS Adv Nurs Sci. Oct-Dec, 2014 37(4); 287-98
  • 2014 -- Allen, K. A. and Brandon, D. H. and Holditch-Davis, D. and Cotton, C. M. and Docherty, S. L. Parent and provider decision-making for infants with hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy Journal of Pregnancy and Child Health. August, 2014 1 106
  • 2014 -- PubMed # : 25102209 Kelley, T. and Docherty, S. and Brandon, D. Letter to the editor. ANS Adv Nurs Sci. July, 2014 37(3); 192
  • 2014 -- PubMed # : 25054525 Waterhouse, J. and Bandisode, V. and Brandon, D. and Olson, M. and Docherty, S. L. Evaluation of the use of a stabilization device to improve the quality of care in patients with peripherally inserted central catheters. AACN Adv Crit Care. Jul-Sep, 2014 25(3); 213-20
  • 2014 -- PubMed # : 24222509 Shepperd, J. A. and Novell, C. A. and O'Neill, S. C. and Docherty, S. L. and Sanderson, S. C. and McBride, C. M. and Lipkus, I. M. Contemplating genetic feedback regarding lung cancer susceptibility. Ann Behav Med. June, 2014 47(3); 395-403 PMC4008648


Grant Funding (Selected)

  • Stigma Experiences, Affective Symptoms, and Engagement in Care among Women Aging with HIV

    National Institutes of Health
    09/2012 to 06/2017
    Role: PI
  • Phenotypic and Genotypic Associations with Symptom Clusters During Childhood Leukemia Treatment

    NIH / National Cancer Institute
    1R01 NR010548 01A1
    09/2012 to 06/2017
    Role: Co-investigator

    Project Goal: To search for genetic variants associated with the oxidative stress and inflammatory pathways as well as explore CNS oxidative stress and cytokine biomarkers, and their relationships with symptom clusters. A repeated measures research design is used to evaluate the number and severity of treatment symptoms, including fatigue, sleep disturbance, pain, depression, nausea, physical activity changes, memory and cognition deficits, CSF oxidative stress and cytokine biomarkers, experienced by 400 children and adolescents, 3-18 years of age, with a diagnosis of leukemia during the most intense phase of treatment.

  • Decision-Making for Infants with Complex Life-Threatening Conditions

    National Institutes of Health/National Institute of Nursing Research
    09/2008 to 07/2013
    Role: PI

    Project Goals: This longitudinal multiple case study will examine the trajectory of decision-making for infants undergoing life-sustaining treatment for a complex life-threatening conditions and factors influencing parent’s decision-making.

  • Decision tree modeling of return of whole genome sequencing results

    Duke Institute for Genome Sciences and Policy (Collaborative & Interdisciplinary Grant )
    04/2012 to 03/2013
    Role: Co-Investigator

    Decisions regarding whether, when, how, and what kinds of results from whole genome sequencing (WGS) should be disclosed to patients and families are fraught, involving a range of technical, clinical, ethical, and regulatory considerations. In particular, performing WGS under a research protocol but for a clinical purpose (e.g., to assist in the diagnosis or management of a serious health condition for which traditional approaches have been exhausted), places the interpretation of results and the decision about their return at the interface between research and clinical care. This case study will explore the decision making trajectory for the disclosure of whole genome sequencing (WGS) results to families of pediatric patients.

  • Decision-making for Infants with Complex Life-Threatening Conditions

    National Institutes of Health
    02/2010 to 07/2011

    Project Goals: This administrative supplement is to develop a flexible data exploratory visualization software program that will allow for the graphic display of multiple layers and varying configurations of different levels of data from a currently funded R01 study.

  • Administrative Supplement to Decision Making for Infants with Complex Life Threatening Conditions

    National Institutes of Health/National Institute of Nursing Research
    09/2009 to 01/2011
    Role: PI

    This administrative supplement is to develop a flexible data exploratory visualization software program that will allow for the graphic display of multiple layers and varying configurations of different levels of data from a currently funded R01 study.

  • Pediatric Acute/Chronic Care Nurse Practitioner Program

    07/2009 to 06/2012
    Role: Faculty

    Project Goals: To expand enrollment and to further develop serious gaming as a QI, critical thinking enhancement skill.

  • Mother Sibling Interactions

    National Institutes of Health/National Institute of Nursing Research
    09/2009 to 07/2011
    Role: Co-Investigator

    Project Goals: This longitudinal study explores the impact of a VLBW infant on mother-sibling interactions and sibling adjustment. A comparison group of fullterm infants will be used to determine which sibling adjustment problems are typical of having a new baby in the home and which are associated with the unique stress of having a VLBW infant.

  • Young Smokers’ Reactions to Genetic Risk for Lung Cancer

    National Institutes of Health - National Cancer Institute
    08/2007 to 06/2011
    Role: Co-Investigator

    Project Goals: This study examines whether providing genetic lung cancer susceptibility feedback to college smokers affect their perceptions of risk and worries and motivations to quit.

  • Stories and Music for Adolescent/Young Adult Resilience During Transplant: The SMART Study

    National Institute of Nursing Research Children’s Oncology Group
    1R01 NR008583-01A2: COG ANUR0631
    11/2007 to 04/2010
    Role: Site PI

    Project Goals: This study will test the efficacy of a therapeutic music video (TMV) intervention aimed at increasing resilience and quality of life of adolescents and young adults (AYA) undergoing bone marrow transplant.


Monday, April 16, 2018

Congratulations to Sharron Docherty, her Co-PI, Christopher Cox (Duke Department of Medicine-Pulmonary) and their entire team who has received an NINR R21 AWARD entitled "Needs and Triggers: Improving Intensive Care Unit-Based Palliative Care Delivery." The project has been awarded  $440,563 for a two-year period with a start date of April 12, 2018.

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Congratulations to Sharron Docherty on being appointed as Director for the PhD in Nursing Program, effective July 1, 2018. 

Thank you to Debra Brandon for her numerous contributions to the PhD Program as director from 2011-2017 and Janice Humphreys for her service as interim director over the last few months.

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Congratulations to PhD student Heeyeon Son and her sponsor Sharron Docherty who have received an American Cancer Society (ACS) Award, for her proposal entitled "Family Communication in Pediatric Palliative Care in Korea." The project has been awarded $30,000 for a two-year period with a start date of July 1, 2018.

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Congratulations to PhD student Eunji Cho and her mentor Sharron Docherty who have received an Oncology Nursing Society (ONS) Scholarship award for her proposal entitled “Human Flourishing in Young Adult Survivors of Adolescent Cancer: A Multiple Case Study.” The project has been awarded $5,000 for a one-year period with a start date of June 1, 2018.

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

PhD alumni Dennis Flores, Sharron Docherty and Michael Relf were recently featured in an article entitled "Improving family-based comm.

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Kudos to Sharron Docherty for her Duke Palliative Care Pilot award entitled "Development of a Pediatric Critical Care Needs-Targeted, Collaborative Palliative Care Delivery Model." This award is for a one-year period with a start date of Jan. 1, 2018. This RFA sought proposals focused on interventions in communication and decision-making and were to include clinical-researcher collaborations. There were a total of 19 applications and three were selected for funding.

Design Overview:

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

The NIH has recently announced funding for The Duke Center for Research to Advance Healthcare Equity, with Kimberly Johnson as PI. There are many DUSON faculty involved in this grant:

Friday, April 21, 2017

Sharron Docherty will serve a five-year appointment as a standing member of the National Institute of Nursing Research (NINR) Initial Review Group NRRC effective July 2017. The review committee is responsible for advising the director of NINR concerning the programs and activities in the areas of nursing research and research training.

The committee provides an initial review of grant applications, research training activities and career development awards and recommends those applications.

Friday, April 14, 2017

Congratulations to PhD student Kristin Wainwright and her mentors Sharron Docherty, Beth Merwin and Jennifer Dungan who have received an award for their NIH NRSA Fellowship proposal entitled “Specific and Pervasive Symptoms in Adults with Multiple Sclerosis Using the MURDOCK-MS Dataset: A Secondary Analysis." This award is for a two-year period with a start date of September 1.

Friday, April 14, 2017

PhD students Deanna Befus and Rachel Hirschey and PhD alumna Megan Winkler presented their work at the annual meeting of the Society of Behavioral Medicine in San Diego, Calif.

​Befus' presentation is entitled "A systems-thinking, problem-solving approach to study migraine self-management and empowerment in socially vulnerable women." Janice Humphreys was a contributor for this project.