Kent State nursing research team receives grant for Web-based study

Kira Meixner

The National Institute of Nursing Research recently awarded a $361,350 grant to a Kent State research team to fund a study that uses online tools to help alleviate depression in stroke survivors and their caregivers.

“This study was designed to benefit the caregiver and also provide positive outcomes for the care receiver,” said Gregory Smith, principle investigator of the study. “A lot of studies have addressed the needs of caregivers, but to our knowledge, not many have addressed both. This is a new approach, and very important.”

Smith, a professor of human development and family studies and director of the Human Development Center, is responsible for all activities related to the grant. Harriet Coeling, professor of nursing, Nichole Egbert-Scheibelhoffer, associate professor of communication studies and Mary Dellmann-Jenkins, director of the School of Family and Consumer Studies, form a team with expertise and research experience from different disciplines. Smith said that lends itself well to intervention.

Thirty-two pairs of people will participate in the Web-based study, Smith said. One person in each pair will have suffered a stroke, and the other person will be the caregiver.

Participants will interact in formal and informal online chat rooms. In informal chat rooms, participants can meet at any time to talk about issues and ask advice. Formal chat rooms are held at a specific date and time, and discussions are led by the nurse monitor, a professional with expertise in stroke care. The nurse monitor can also post educational video clips on the Web for participants to view before discussions.

Eugenia Missik, interim director of the Center for Nursing Research, said direct student involvement in the study is limited, but nursing students will benefit from the results.

“Students will be the recipients of the findings,” Missik said. “Faculty will transfer the information to other faculty, students and other colleagues regionally and around the country.”

Missik said receiving the grant encourages the College of Nursing to submit more applications.

Smith said to do so, an individual or team can come up with a scientific idea for a study and prepare a grant application. The researcher or group should then contact program officers at various institutes with the idea, and submit the application to the National Institutes of Health for peer review. The National Institutes of Health can sign and approve the application and decide whether to send it to the contacted institutes.

Kent State researchers have been funded $3 to $4 million from institutes like the Health Resources and Services Administration and the National Institutes of Health, Missik said. To date, Kent State research teams have submitted 25 to 27 grants and are waiting to hear if institutes will approve their applications.

“We took it to heart when President Lefton said he wants to increase and expand research activities within the university and the College of Nursing,” Missik said. “You’ll be hearing from us.”

Contact health and medical reporter Kira Meixner at [email protected].