In this issue: Funding Opportunities, Research eNews Co-Editors Needed, Effects of Brief Mindfulness Meditation on Anxiety Symptoms in Nursing Students, Integrating Theater and Medicine for Interprofessional Team Building, Research Glossary: Companion Animals, Research Profile: Dorthy Larkin and much more...

Connections in Holistic Nursing Research
January 2012 
Volume 5 Issue 1

In This Issue
Holistic Nursing IS the Answer and Research IS the Key
Funding Opportunities
Wanted: Co-Editors for Research E-News
Research Profile: 
Dorothy Larkin PhD, RN
Research in the News
AHNA Researchers in Action
Research Glossary: Companion Animals
Quick Links

Holistic Nursing IS the Answer and 

Research IS the Key

Guest Editorial by Colleen Delaney PhD, RN, AHN-BC


"Holistic nursing is the answer to transforming health care," is a phrase I often hear from our beloved members as well as a deeply rooted belief shared among all of us at AHNA. It is also frequently discussed in our Board of Directors meetings as we plan our future and envision our association as a national leader in the transformation of nursing education and practice; and ultimately how health care is delivered. 


We all know that this great work we do together holds the key to change. But how do we go from knowing this to implementing holistic nursing across academics and practice environments? I believe it all comes down to evidence. Evidence is the key. Evidence is what shifts attitudes and changes practice. Evidence that the work we do as holistic nurses through our focus on the whole person makes an important difference in the patient's lives we touch as well as our own. 


A shared vision of the Research Committee (RC) is to facilitate our members' use of existing evidence related to holistic nursing practice and modalities and supporting the creation of new evidence. As the RC coordinator, it is my passion and privilege to contribute to making this vision a reality. The RC already has a strong foundation and we are ready to bring our work to the next level on the national stage. I feel so fortunate to be surrounded by a group of nurses with a deep commitment to advancing our work and meeting the needs of our members.


Last year, we conducted a research needs assessment with about 600 members responding. The results were exciting and confirmed our members' interest in evidence-based holistic nursing practice and research. Here are some highlights from our assessment.


Participants interested in learning more about:


Beginnings Article Featured in AHRQ SRC Methods Library
The US Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) Effective Healthcare Program's Scientific Resource Center (SRC) maintains a database of articles related to Comparative Effectiveness Research Methodology and sends out a weekly email alert of new additions. An August 2012 Beginnings article by AHNA members Valerie Eschiti and Rorry Zahourek, "Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute: A Response to Public Outcry for Better Use of Healthcare Dollars," was recently included on this list. Kudos to Rorry and Valerie for helping to bring holistic nursing to a wider audience. Read the article. (Scroll to page 14)


CE Available in the Journal of Holistic Nursing

Every issue of the Journal of Holistic Nursing(JHN) includes a CE activity. Read a research article, take the posttest and complete an evaluation and retrieve an instant CNE contact hour certificate. Visit the AHNA website to learn more and find other CNE opportunities. The December JHN included this activity: 


Lisa Ann Marcille, Shirley Cudney, Clarann Weinert. (December 2012). Loneliness as experienced by women living with chronic illness in rural areas. Journal of Holistic Nursing,30(4), 244-252. doi:10.1177/0898010112453326  (CE activity.) 

Full text available to AHNA members. Learn how.
Funding Opportunities

AHNA Research Grant Opportunity

The AHNA is offering a competitive research grant for $500 to $1,500. Completed research proposals are due no later than Friday, February 15, 2013. Please refer to the AHNA website at for the following information: the grant application form, guidelines about the application process, and information describing how to write a research proposal. For more information, please contact Jeanette Plodek,, or Cindy Barrere,


Mental Health Research Dissertation Grant to Increase Diversity (R36)

The purpose of this Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA), issued by the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), is to increase the diversity of the mental health research workforce by providing dissertation awards in all areas of research within the strategic priorities of the NIMH to individuals from diverse backgrounds underrepresented in mental health research to support the completion of the doctoral research project.

2013 APNF Research Grant

The American Psychiatric Nursing Foundation (APNF) is pleased to continue the research grants program to enhance scientific contributions advancing the knowledge and practice of psychiatric-mental health nursing. APNF established these awards to seed new investigators who are beginning their research careers and will award up to five (5) individual grants of up to $5,000 per award. As such, priority will be given to investigators who are early in their research trajectories and who have not previously had major intra- or extramural funding. See more. 

Co-Editors for Research E-News

Wanted Co-editorsThe AHNA Research E-News is looking for you! Would you like to be one of two Co-Editors, working with a senior Research Editor-in-Chief? The current Co-Editors, Jackie Levin and Jen Reich will be stepping down in 2013 and our hope is to have them share their experience and mentor the two incoming Co-Editors.


The purpose of AHNA Research E-News is to share and grow the sphere of influence of holistic nursing research. In addition, researcher members, both seasoned and novice, demonstrate through Cameo Interviews, Editorials and Guest papers, how research guides holistic nursing practice as well as how holistic nursing practice generates research. The newsletter goes out quarterly and reaches over 5000 subscribers.


The role of the Co-Editors is to coordinate and compile the elements of the Quarterly Research E-News with guidance from the Editor-in-Chief. This coordination includes determining who will be interviewed for the Researcher Cameo, engaging members at large to submit current published holistic research and write a summary abstract of the publication. Each issue defines a research term and highlights activities, publications and achievements of our research members.


Both Jackie and Jen say that they gained valuable experience over the last 2 years learning the ins and outs of publishing a newsletter and enjoyed the collaborative and supportive relationships with each other and with Diane Wardell, the current Editor-in-Chief, and Rorry Zahourek, the preceding Editor-in-Chief. Our goal is to engage two new members to take over their roles through a mentoring process. If you are an AHNA member with a passion for research, please consider contributing in this exciting role!


Please contact Sue Robertson ( if you are interested.

Research Profile: Dorothy Larkin PhD, RN 

Interview by Jackie Levin RN, MS, AHN-BC, CHTP & Jen Reich PhD, RN, ANP-BC, Connections Co-Editors


Dorothy M. Larkin, Ph.D, RN
Dorothy M. Larkin PhD, RN

Why do you think it is important for Holistic Nurses to define and refine concepts we use in practice and research?


I think Holistic Nursing theories, practice and research can and should guide health care reform and inter-professional practice.  We need to explicate our knowledge more blatantly, and as the IOM report emphasizes, we need to be at the inter-professional table in guiding health care reform.  I am amazed when I present my research and holistic nursing theory informed practice to other health care professionals and see how eager they are to embrace unitary science/holistic nursing theories and concepts, which then can support, guide and inform their practice. Holistic Nursing is growing exponentially, and as we embrace our power as "knowing" participation in facilitating change, we can actualize our intentions and facilitate healing for all.


Tell me a little bit about your research.


My doctoral research at NYU was entitled "Ericksonian Hypnotherapeutic Approaches in Chronic Care Support Groups: A Rogerian Exploration of Power and Self-Defined Health-Promoting Goals".  It was published in Nursing Science Quarterly in October, 2007 and received the first "Best Paper Award" from Nursing Science Quarterly and Sage Publications.  This honor will hopefully give more people the opportunity to integrate the recommendations into their practice!


The study focused on those experiencing a chronic illness as more than 50% of North Americans are projected to have a chronic illness during their lifetime.  Rogers' Science of Unitary Human Beings identifies the purpose of nursing as promoting the health and well-being of all people. Health in Rogerian science is viewed as eudaimonistic, which is ever- evolving well-being.  Promoting eudaimonistic health involves actualizing desired health promoting potentials which is done by empowering the individual to a participant in the change process with power as knowing participation in change. This study examined how traditional and Ericksonian hypnotherapeutic support groups facilitated self-defined health promoting goals and power as knowing participation in change for a convenience sample of 49 participants with chronic physical illness who were randomly assigned to either a traditional support group or an Ericksonian hypnotherapeutic support group for five weeks duration. All participants were encouraged to share their stories and give and receive support in the group. Participants in the Ericksonian hypnotherapeutic support groups received additional education in self-hypnosis. Measurements of power and self-defined health promoting goals were obtained seven times over a ten week period. Instruments utilized were Barrett's "Power as Knowing Participation in Change Test" semantic differential and Matas's, "Self Defined Health Promoting Goals" visual analogue scale.


The results indicated that both the traditional support groups and the Ericksonian hypnotherapeutic support groups experienced significantly enhanced power, p < .001, and significantly facilitated progression toward self-defined health promoting goals, p < .001. .. There was no significant difference detected between the two types of groups in terms of participants' power, p = .55 nor in progression toward their chosen health goals, p = .227. Although correlations for the self-defined health promoting goals and power were not significant at pre-test (r=.09), the correlations progressively increased through the time to a strong correlation of r = .62 at one month following the group (p < .01). This finding supports Barrett's claim that power relates to evolving health.


Further research is needed on the health and power promoting benefits of traditional and Ericksonian hypnotherapeutic support groups for persons with chronic illness.


What are some of the benefits and challenges to conducting research in a small college setting?


Some of the benefits I have experienced relate to the interpersonal support I have received with administration, faculty and in the IRB process.  An ongoing challenge is the lack of resources in terms of faculty time and financial support. 


Any advice you would like to share with Holistic Nurses just getting started in research?


Consider questions that you are passionate about...Read More

Research in the News

There are so many ways that holistic nurses can influence the health and wellbeing of patients, their families, colleagues and our work environments.  We have many of the tools within in easy reach and with minimal cost.  There is increasing research over the last decade to justify the benefits of holistic strategies that can cross disciplines and illnesses.


A Randomized Controlled Trial of the Effects of Brief Mindfulness Meditation on Anxiety Symptoms and Systolic Blood Pressure in Chinese Nursing Students

In China, researchers Chen, Yang, Wang, Zhang designed a RCT offering a brief mindfulness meditation practice to nursing students. Sixty nursing students were recruited and randomized to an intervention group who performed 30 minutes of mindfulness meditation for 7 days and a control group that received no intervention except pre-post treatment measurements.  Results on the Self-Rating Anxiety Scale were significantly higher in the mindfulness meditation group than the control group. Systolic blood pressure was reduced by an average of 2.2 mmHg. There was no effect observed for the Self-Rating Depression Scale between groups. (Nurse Education Today, December 19, 2012)


Effects of Music Therapy and Guided Visual Imagery on Chemotherapy-induced Anxiety and Nausea-Vomiting 

Many patients are requesting non-pharmacological methods to reduce the amount of medications they take to manage symptoms related to disease or treatments. Reported in the Journal of Clinical Nursing this study examined the effect of music and guided imagery on chemotherapy-induced anxiety, nausea and vomiting using both an experimental and a cross-sectional design with only one sample group of 40 participants. The participants served as the control group using a pre-test/post-test design and also served as the case group for the cross-sectional aspect of the study.  The results of the study the state showed a significant response (p. <0.05) for all dimensions. (Journal of Clinical Nursing, January 2013)


All the World's a Stage: Integrating Theater and Medicine for Interprofessional Team Building in Physician and Nurse Residency Programs.

This study, done at the Christiana Care Health System in Northern Delaware, evaluated a simulation intervention designed to measure the ability to recognize a medical condition (alcohol withdrawal) and improvements in communication and collaboration with other health care team members. The study included a simulation lab and the use of theater students as patients for the Resident Doctors and Nurse Residents to practice collaboration skills.  After this simulation experience the participants improved their recognition of alcohol withdrawal (44% of participants pre-intervention to 94% of participants post-intervention) and their ability to communicate and collaborate with team members (55% of participants pre-intervention to 81% of participants post-intervention). The participants also highly evaluated the program for its authenticity.  (Ochsner Journal, Winter 2012)

AHNA Researchers in Action

Sue Robertson, Evelyn Clingerman, Rothlyn Zahourek, Carla Mariano, & Bernadette Lange. (December 2012). Creation of an American Holistic Nurses Association Research Consultation ProgramJournal of Holistic Nursing, 30(4), 219-223.


A goal of the American Holistic Nurses Association (AHNA) Research Committee is to prepare holistic nurses to conduct holistic nursing research. This article describes the creation of a Research Consultation Program and how the knowledge gained from the program will contribute to the development of a formal research mentor program. Full text available to AHNA members. Learn how.


Melodee Harris, Kathy Culpepper Richards, & Victoria T. Grando. (December 2012). The effects of slow-stroke back massage on minutes of nighttime sleep in persons with dementia and sleep disturbances in the nursing home: A pilot study. Journal of Holistic Nursing,30(4), 255-263. doi:10.1177/0898010112455948
Full text available to AHNA members. Learn how.
Desiree Hensel, Taylor Caitlin Bradburn, Amy Kelly, Isabel Manahan, Hannah Merriman, Faith Metzinger, & Heather Moore. (December 2012). Student impressions of an art therapy class. Journal of Holistic Nursing, 30(4), 264-269. doi:10.1177/0898010112455947 
Full text available to AHNA members. Learn how.
Lynn Rew. (December 2012). From course assignment paper to publishable manuscript.Journal of Holistic Nursing, 30(4), 270-276. doi:10.1177/0898010112453328
Full text available to AHNA members. Learn how.
Carey S. Clark. (January/February 2013). An integral nursing education experience: Outcomes from a BSN Reiki course. Holistic Nursing Practice. 27(1):13-22. doi:10.1097/HNP.0b013e318276fdc4
Francie Halderman. (January/February 2013). Ben's story: A case study in holistic nursing and veteran trauma. Holistic Nursing Practice. 27(1):34-36. doi:10.1097/HNP.0b013e318276fbb1 
Mary Elaine Koren & Christina Papamiditriou. (January/February 2013). Spirituality of staff nurses: Application of modeling and role modeling theory. Holistic Nursing Practice. 27(1):37-44. doi:10.1097/HNP.0b013e318276fc38 


AHNA members names in bold. We would love to hear about your research. Have you started your dissertation, had a paper published, presented, etc. Send your "Researcher in Action" to

Research Glossary: Companion Animals

Definition by Mara M. Baun PhD, FAAN


Companion AnimalAnimals are playing many therapeutic roles in the lives of humans.  Many people have had animals as pets, especially when they were children, and fondly remember their relationships.  Today, animals not only are highly valued in many homes, but they have also assumed therapeutic roles with humans.


At present, animals frequently are visitors in health care institutions.  Many hospitals and nursing homes allow animals, particularly dogs, to visit patients/residents.  These visitors can be "therapy dogs" who are unknown to the patients or in some hospitals the patients' own dogs.  Certified therapy dogs generally visit a number of patients who request them.  The patients' own dogs usually just visit their owners and are known as "companion animals".  Various studies have shown that humans respond more positively both physiologically and psychologically to dogs to which they are attached than to unknown dogs (Baun, Bergstrom, Langston, & Thoma et al., 1984; Schuelke, Trask, Wallace, Baun, Bergstrom, & McCabe, 1991/92).


It is not uncommon for nursing homes to have "resident" dogs and sometimes other animals who wander freely among the residents. Besides dogs, the most common are cats, rabbits, small rodents, birds, and fish.  Problem behaviors of persons with Alzheimer's were measured for one week prior to and 4 weeks after the placement of a dog.  Participants on the day shift exhibited significantly fewer problem behaviors across the entire four weeks after the dog was living on the unit (McCabe, Baun, Speich, & Agrawal, 2002).


In another study conducted in an Alzheimer's unit, it was found that particularly during the sundown period when persons with Alzheimer's can become very agitated, residents were much calmer when a therapy dog was present (Churchill, Safaoui, McCabe, & Baun, 1999)...Read more.  


View AHNA's growing research glossary. To contribute a definition or suggest a term, please




Feel free to share the content in this eNewsletter with your e-mail contacts, list-serves, or favorite discussion boards/ blogs. Please just be sure to mention that Connections is a benefit of AHNA membership.


Connections in Holistic Nursing Research 
Diane Wind Wardell PhD, RN, WHNP-BC, AHN-BC, CHTP/I  

Jackie Levin RN, MS, AHN-BC, CHTP
Jen Reich PhD, RN, ANP-BC
AHNA Leadership Council Coordinator for Research: 
Colleen Delaney PhD, RN, AHN-BC


Although the AHNA supports the concepts of holism, it refrains from endorsing specific practitioners, organizations, products, services or modalities. Opinions expressed in this eNewsletter may not reflect the position of the AHNA.