CONTACT: DEREK MAURER
2130 Medical Laboratories
Iowa City IA 52242
(319) 335-8964; fax (319) 335-8034
Release: Aug. 31, 1999
UI College of Nursing wins support to expand gerontological
nursing research center
IOWA CITY, Iowa -- A $1.7 million, five-year federal
grant to the University of Iowa College of Nursing will allow the college
to head a six-state Gerontological Nursing Intervention Research Center (GNIRC).
This award expands the scope and function of the current GNIRC, one of six
nursing research centers funded nationwide since 1994.
Ultimately, this will mean better health for older
adults in Iowa, the Midwest and the nation, said Toni Tripp-Reimer, Ph.D.,
professor and associate dean for research and director of the GNIRC.
The GNIRC will use the grant, announced recently by
the National Institute for Nursing Research, a division of the National Institutes
of Health, to develop a regional training and resource facility for gerontological
nursing researchers. Initially, the training core will link investigators
at the UI, the University of Minnesota, the University of Missouri at Columbia
and the University of Wisconsin at Madison. In 2002, faculty at two historically
black colleges, Southern University in Baton Rouge, La., and Alcorn State
University in Lorman, Miss., will also join the regional center.
"We're particularly excited to have Southern University
and Alcorn State join the center," said Meridean Maas, Ph.D., professor of
nursing and co-director of the GNIRC. "This will allow us to address the scarcity
of research concerning the health care needs of minority elders."
The regional training core will strengthen gerontological
nursing research in several ways, Tripp-Reimer said. It will facilitate collaborative
and multi-site studies by investigators at the member institutions; give scientists
access to a larger and more diverse pool of older adults to participate in
studies; foster mentoring relationships between experienced faculty investigators
and their junior colleagues; and allow researchers to draw on resources and
expertise at institutions other than their own.
The GNIRC also will use the grant to promote the use
of scientific knowledge in clinical nursing practice. The center's research
dissemination core will coordinate programs to train doctoral students and
junior scientists how to translate scientific findings so they can be used
by health care practitioners; disseminate scientific information to the health
professions and consumers; and facilitate the adoption of new nursing practices
that will improve the care of older adults.
"Nursing science is rapidly developing effective practices
that improve patient outcomes," said Marita Titler, Ph.D., director of the
research dissemination core. "The challenge is to go beyond simply publishing
new findings to make sure nurses learn about them and can adopt them in their
daily practice. It's also important that consumers have reliable information
so they can make appropriate decisions regarding their own health care."
In addition to the regional training and research
dissemination cores, the GNIRC also comprises an administrative core and a
research support core (RSC) that provides statistical and other consultative
services to investigators. The RSC is headed by Frank Kohout, Ph.D., professor
of periodontics in the UI College of Dentistry.
The GNIRC was created in 1994 to facilitate gerontological
nursing research, to provide a forum for collaboration by UI investigators
and to move innovations into professional nursing practice. One of the center's
goals is to help junior investigators and graduate students establish programs
of research and gain standing with outside funding agencies, and another is
to support senior faculty in nursing and other disciplines engaged in research
leading to more effective nursing interventions for older adults.
The center currently supports 23 interdisciplinary
projects ranging from pilot studies to full scale investigations. It is closely
linked with the UI's Center for Nursing Classification, which works to develop
standardized terms to describe the work nurses do and the patient outcomes
that result from it.
Since its inception, the GNIRC has supported numerous
projects resulting in improved patient care, including prevention of dehydration
in residents of long-term care facilities; prevention and healing of pressure
ulcers; training of family caregivers of persons with Alzheimer's disease
and related disorders; improved end-of-life care; improved pain assessment
and management; reduced urinary incontinence; decreased risk of osteoporosis;
prevention and management of acute confusion; use of music therapy to decrease
agitation; use of exercise to improve balance and reduce falls; and facilitation
of relocation to long-term care.
"This five-year award to expand the center to a regional
area is a testament to the strength of gerontological research in nursing
and collaborating disciplines at the University of Iowa," Tripp-Reimer noted.
The College of Nursing is currently ranked 11th within the top 60 NIH-funded
schools of nursing. This is the only center grant awarded to a school of nursing
in the Midwest.
Other large, newly funded centers will be housed at
schools of nursing at UCLA, the University of Washington, the University of
North Carolina, and the University of Pittsburgh.
According to Kathleen Buckwalter, Ph.D., UI associate
provost for health sciences and co-director of the GNIRC, a number of social
and economic factors suggest the need for more gerontological nursing research:
Currently, about 12.7 percent of Americans are
65 or older. The Census Bureau predicts this percentage will rise to almost
18 percent in 2020 and almost 23 percent by 2050. In Iowa, 15.4 percent
of the population currently is 65 or older.
The proportion of Americans who are 85 or older--the
"oldest old"--is expected to reach 5 percent by 2050. Iowa currently leads
the nation in this age category, at 2 percent.
More than 80 percent of older adults report having
chronic health problems; the most common illnesses are arthritis, high
blood pressure, heart disease, hearing loss, cataracts, orthopedic impairments,
sinusitis and diabetes. Among people 85 and older, 47 percent of those living
at home and more than 60 percent of those living in long-term care facilities
experience some degree of cognitive impairment.
Fifty-two percent of individuals over 65 have at
least one disability that affects their ability to perform normal activities
of daily living, and almost three in four people 85 or older have difficulty
with routine activities. Women, especially those who live alone, report difficulty
with daily living activities at a significantly higher rate than men.
Though they represent 12.7 percent of the U.S.
population, individuals 65 and older account for 40 percent of the national
health bill. Medicare, the federal health insurance program for older Americans,
currently pays about 18 percent of all health expenditures; that figure is
expected to reach almost 26 percent by 2030.