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Faculty Research

SLU’s nursing faculty has played a pivotal role in advancing the growing field of nursing research. We investigate measures to test feeding tube placement, sustaining exercise in middle age, and elderly falls and fear of falling. We study adolescent mothers, asthma and pain in children, and dance therapy. And we explore autism, sleep, pediatric palliative care, natural disasters, taste post-cancer and other topics.

Tube Feedings

During the past two decades, Norma A. Metheny, Ph.D., has focused on methods to reduce risk for complications associated with tube feedings. Her earliest work, funded by the National Institute of Nursing Research, evaluated a series of methods to determine when feedings were properly positioned.

Teen Mothers

Lee Smith, Ph.D., professor of nursing, has interviewed and chronicled observations of a sample of teen mothers, their parents and children every four to five years for more than 25 years. Her findings have challenged stereotyped assumptions of teen mothers and revealed that being a mother can motivate a teen to continue her education and shy away from engaging in risky behavior.

Palliative Care for Children

Verna Hendricks-Ferguson, Ph.D., professor of nursing, studies caring for children at the end of their battles with life-threatening illnesses. She has published extensively about palliative care for children. Her research is funded by agencies including the National Institute of Nursing Research (part of the National Institutes of Health), which puts a special focus on end-of-life and palliative care.

Funded Faculty Research and Projects

Bultas, Margaret 
  • PI: Health Care Encounters for Children with Autism and Spectrum Disorders: Assessment of Barriers and Resources for Children, Families and Providers. Delta Lambda Chapter of Sigma Theta Tau International (STTI), 2014-2016
Hendricks-Ferguson, Verna
Palliative and End of Life Care for Children
Verna Hendricks-Ferguson, Ph.D, FPCN, FAAN is a Professor of nursing. Her program of research has focused on making significant contributions to the pioneering study of palliative and end-of-life (PC/EOL) communication practices by pediatric oncology providers with parents of children with poor prognosis cancer. She has several published research articles focused on PC/EOL pediatric provider communication practices and parental preferences to receive early PC/EOL information about the care of children with cancer. Additionally, she has been honored with receiving several PC/EOL designated awards, including: (a) the first issued 'Distinguished Nurse Scientist Award' in 2018 by the Midwest Nursing Research Society's PC/EOL Research Interest Group; (b) two research writing awards by the Journal of Pediatric Hematology-Oncology Nurses; and (c) inducted as a Fellow of Palliative Care Nursing. Her research has been funded by external foundations (i.e., Oncology Nursing Foundation, Alex Lemonade Children's Cancer Research Foundation) and the National Institute Health (NIH) and the National Institute of Nursing Research (NINR) (i.e., 3-year NIH-NINR T32 post-doc fellowship; grants by the NIH-NINR). 
Koetting, Cathy
  • PI: Integrating Adolescent Substance Abuse Screening, Brief Intervention and Treatment (SBIRT) throughout Social Work and Nursing School of Education; Track B: Full Training and Implementation Program, NORC at the University of Chicago, 2016-2017
Lach, Helen
  • PI: Development and Testing of an Online Evidence-Based Program to Reduce the Fear of Falling in Older Adults, West Virginia University Research Corporation, 2015-2016
Langan, Joanne
  • PI: Inter-Generational Measure of Resilience Among Joplin Tornado Survivor. Delta Lambda Chapter of Sigma Theta Tau International (STTI), 2014-2016
Lorenz, Rebecca
  • Co-PI: Measuring Sleep and Body Temperature among Adults with Multiple Sclerosis, 2016-2017
Metheny, Norma
  • PI: Testing Feeding Tube Placement in Infants. American Association of Critical Care Nurses (AACN), 2014-2016
Moran, Vicki
  • PI: A Pilot Study to Determine the Contamination Rates of Unused Non-Sterile Gloves Using Two Different Glove Dispensers in the Emergency Department (Collaborative with Rita Heuertz, Biomedical Laboratory Science), Saint Louis University, Beaumont Faculty Development Fund, 2015-2016
Murray, Teri
  • PD: The Jonas Scholars Program-2014. The Jonas Center for Nursing Excellence, 2014-2016
  •  PD: The Jonas Scholars Program-2016. The Jonas Center for Nursing Excellence, 2016-2018
Smith, Lee
  • PI: Moms Growing Together: Piloting a Support Group for Teen Moms. American Group Psychotherapy Association (AGPA), 2014-2016
  • PI: A Multigenerational Odyssey: A Three Decade Follow-up of Teen Mothers and Their Families, Fahs-Beck Fund for Research and Experimentation, 2016-2017
Thanavaro, Joanne
  • PD: Advanced Education Nursing Traineeship. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), 2014-2016 


Funded Dissertation Projects

McClung, Emily
  • Dissertation Grant, A Mixed Methods Approach to Baccalaureate Nursing Students, Ohio Nurses Foundation, 2016-2017
Waznonis, Annette
  • Dissertation Grant, A Multi-Site, Mixed Methods Examination of Simulation Debriefing Practices in Traditional Baccalaureate Nursing Programs, National League for Nursing 2014-2016