ADAPT Center Develops Nursing Scientists of the Future

Since its beginning in 2012, the Duke University School of Nursing ADAPT Center has been promoting innovative research focused on managing and minimizing changes in cognition and emotional symptom responses to chronic illness. And with more than 70 investigators from a variety of disciplines and centers, the Center is taking its efforts to the next level with new leadership, a focus on measures and methods and new initiatives.

Sharron Docherty, PhD, PNP-BC, FAAN, will be joined by Donald “Chip” Bailey, Jr., PhD, RN, FAAN, to co-direct the Center. Docherty previously served as co-director with Ruth Anderson, PhD, MSN, MA, RN, FAAN, prior to Anderson transitioning to UNC-Chapel Hill this past summer. Bailey previously served as the Center’s Scholarship and Mentoring Core Director. The two have joined together to lead the Center into the next phase. Also a part of the leadership team is Bei Wu, PhD, FGSA, FAGHE, International Research Director and Methods Core Director.

This National Institute of Nursing Research (NINR) funded Center of Excellence supports investigators studying symptoms of chronic illness with studies focused on understanding how to empower patients and their caregivers to optimize symptom management and enhance quality of life.

“For the past three years we have focused on supporting project directors and pilot investigators in conducting studies that were a part of the initial funding for the Center,” said Docherty. “Now we will spend the next two years moving those investigators onto the logical step in their program of research, as well as focusing our services and products on advancing the methodological skills needed for a center of excellence in symptom science research.”

The new focus will open up opportunities for faculty who previously haven’t had a chance to collaborate with the Center. “By focusing on methods and measures that scientists need, we will open up our services to a broader array of faculty,” Bailey said. “Faculty can learn how to use various methods, measures and tools to assist them in their research projects.”

Wu adds: “Our new focus also includes advancing and applying trajectory methods and mixed methods to examine cognitive and affective symptoms in chronic diseases. We will also try to evaluate an array of instruments to measure cognitive and affective symptoms.”

One tool that will be used towards this new focus will be to host national and international experts in the fields of cognitive/affective symptom measures, study models, design and analysis, and biomarker exploration.

The first expert the Center will host effective Sept. 1, is Susan Henly, PhD, RN, FAAN, professor emeriti at the School of Nursing at the University of Minnesota (UMN). Henly, a renowned leader in quantitative research methodology with a special interest in advancing quantitative methods in nursing PhD programs was the methods core director for the NINR-funded Center for Health Trajectory Research at UMN. With a 30-year career and program of research focused on psychometric methods for nursing research with special interest in the robustness of estimators in the analysis of covariance structures, model selection and longitudinal models for health trajectories, she will serve as a mentor for ADAPT Center investigators in research scholarship and R-level grant applications.

Another expert the Center will host in the future is Cynthia Dougherty, PhD, ARNP, FAHA, FAAN, professor with the School of Nursing at the University of Washington. Dougherty’s research focus is in advanced cardiac disease management. She is an expert on big data sets and cardiovascular biomarkers.

Beginning in the spring of 2016, the Center will also sponsor various research presentations through journal clubs, roundtable discussions and symposiums focused on bio-measures of symptom science, design and analytical models. Speakers for these events will be both substantive and methodological experts.

“All of this work we’re embarking on in the next two years supports our goals. And it will equip our investigators for the work of the future and potentially position them for additional funding,” said Bailey.

Docherty adds: “The overall aim of a Center such as ours is to enhance the productivity of investigators in this particular field. And one of the most important ways to do that is to focus on the methodological tool set needed by investigators to move the science of symptoms and self-management forward and positions the Center to apply for additional or new funding if the opportunity arises.”

As the Center shifts its focus, it will also shift how it does business. Previously, the group worked with investigators through large group mentoring on items such as manuscript and proposal writing. The group will be less involved in doing large group mentoring and instead target individual investigators who are ready to move their projects to the next level of study.

The new focus allows both previously funded and new participants with ideas regarding symptom science to take full advantage of all of the services and resources the ADAPT Center provides.

“Our methods and measures don’t require scientists to use the Adaptive Leadership Framework for Chronic Illness. Our goal is to support the development of nursing scientists,” Bailey said.

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