In this issue: Call for Proposals, Research Profile: Kay Sandor, Researchers in Action and much more .

Connections in Holistic Nursing Research
August 2011 
Volume 3 Issue 4

In This Issue
Research Profile: Kay Sandor
Poster Sessions offer Cutting Edge Exchanges
Call for Proposals
Research Needs Assessment Survey
Research Mentorship at AHNA
AHNA Research News
Researchers in Action
Quick Links

Don't Forget...



By Rorry Zahourek, PhD, PMHCNS, BC
Coordinator for Research


The 2011 AHNA Conference was wonderful, exciting and a chance for AHNA's research efforts to shine. Many participants during the conference approached me saying, "I have this great idea for a project, can I talk with you about it?" The passion experienced from the presentations and posters was infectious. In fact, this year's grant recipient, Bonnie Berk, was so stimulated when she attended last year's workshop, "Birthing a Research Project," that she submitted the award winning research proposal for this year!


Five research papers were presented and nine research posters were displayed. The full day pre-conference conducted by Richard Cowling: The Holistic Nursing Avatar: Embodying Wholeness in Praxis" provided insights and strategies for practitioners, researchers and educators who wish to ground their works in wholeness and pattern appreciation. Bernadette Lange, Carla Mariano, and Ruth McCaffery, presented the pre-conference workshop, "The Sacred Glow of Understanding Research: The IMRAD method for Qualitative and Quantitative Approaches".  IMRAD is an acronym for the research process: introduction, methods, results, and discussion. The preliminary analysis of the "Stories of Healing From Holistic Nurses" study presentation by the AHNA members, Marlaine Smith, Diane Wardell, Joan Engebretson, Mary Hines and Rorry Zahourek.


Research is an important part of the conference each year. It provides an opportunity to hear papers on completed research, view posters and discuss new ideas for research with holistic nursing colleagues. The conference also allows time for networking and sharing with one another about research ideas, and challenges that face us in holistic nursing.


Each year conference evaluations ask that the next conference contain more advanced content and more research based findings.  Please consider submitting a presentation, paper or poster for 2012 to add to the quality and potency of the Conference and holistic nursing research and practice. As a reminder the deadline for submission of posters and research papers will be extended this year to December 1st. All other research presentations (workshops, panels, and more lengthy presentations) must be submitted by next month on September 7th. See the Request for Proposals on the AHNA website.


Also please make sure you fill out the survey of research needs in AHNA that was sent from Colleen Delaney and her students titled "We need your voice". Click here to take the online survey.

Research Profile:  Kay Sandor PhD, RN, LPC, AHN-BC

Kay Sandor

Interview by Jen Reich MA, MS, ANP-BC, ACHPN  


As a palliative care practitioner, hospice volunteer, advanced holistic nurse, and licensed professional counselor, Dr. Sandor specializes in spirituality and bringing a compassionate presence to end-of-life care. She is currently a Professor at the University of Texas Medical Branch School of Nursing at Galveston where she teaches the nationally recognized interprofessional course entitled "Spirituality in Clinical Care" for nursing, medical, and health professions students. Dr. Sandor was a keynote speaker at the 2011 AHNA Conference.


1. How would you describe your experience presenting [as the final] keynote [speaker] at conference?
I was honored and humbled when I was first invited to speak. I'm always looking for ways to share my work as an end-of-life practitioner and educator, and this gathering provided a powerful venue. As you know, the end-of-life is not a topic we speak about easily in our culture; however holistic nurses are generally more open, so I felt I was speaking to kindred spirits. Even though I was "preaching to the choir," I received feedback from my evaluations that many had learned new things to take back to their practice and to their personal lives. My hope is that the web of connection created at the annual conference will go on and on as we continue to share about this important final (?) phase.



2. Tell me about how you got started in end-of-life work.
As I explained in my Keynote "tickler" on the opening night of the conference, I have been on this path my whole life. It began in my early childhood and it's linked to the death of my brother, Joey. I was born after Joey's death and we share birthdays. I have come to realize that it was my "soul's code" to focus on this work. In retrospect, I have had experience after experience to prepare my mind, body, and spirit to share this practice with the actively dying, and with students, and the larger community. It's the most rewarding and the hardest work I've ever done. I've learned that the tension between the gift and the burden of this work is a creative space where I can continue grow and serve.


3. What is your current program of research?
I'm currently involved in educational research. I am a member of the University of Texas Medical Branch Academy of Master Teachers and I've recently completed an 18 month faculty development program called "Scholars in Education." My project for the "Scholars" program was to develop, implement, and evaluate an online clinical module teaching graduate nursing students Motivational Interviewing (MI) in Second Life ®. MI is an evidenced-based approach to create behavioral change for health promotion, and primary, secondary, and tertiary prevention. Motivational Interviewing is a client-centered guiding method of communication and counseling to elicit and strengthen motivation for change. It has been shown to support behavioral change and improve adherence with physical and emotional health conditions. The graduate nursing students used scenarios and scripts highlighting MI techniques and interviewed each other online in Second Life to develop these specific communication and interviewing skills for use in future practice settings.


The unique part of this project was that the clinical practicum took place in Second Life®. Second Life (SL™) is a virtual world that has been successfully used in educational settings. It's a free Internet program developed by Linden Lab, and students and faculty develop avatars that meet in a virtual setting for seminar and instruction. The use of Second Life provides the opportunity to apply new knowledge and techniques in a virtual setting where barriers and geographic boundaries are overcome and sensitivity about topics can be eased. The University of Texas Medical Branch (UTMB) and all the University of Texas system schools currently have a presence on SL in the form of a virtual campus or an "island." SL has been successfully used in several graduate courses at UTMB. However, none of these courses have systematically evaluated SL as a teaching strategy. I had successfully used SL in an online interprofessional graduate research elective for several years. In the research elective, students were invited to an optional online seminar with faculty. Although it was optional, students were interested, engaged, and regularly attended. My goal for the "Scholars" project was to introduce the use of Motivational Interviewing in Second Life to provide an innovative way to engage students as they increase communication skills for patient-centered care. I'm currently evaluating the use of Second Life as a teaching environment. I'm also in the process of evaluating the feasibility of teaching Motivational Interviewing in Second Life.


4. What are your biggest challenges in doing holistic nursing research?
I think all researchers, both in the academic and/or practice setting, are challenged by time and money. One of the ways to manage those challenges is to make everything count. My educational research project is a good example. If you're implementing a new procedure or policy in the practice setting, use that as an opportunity to conduct research about outcomes. I have also learned over the years, that I can conduct preliminary, pilot, and feasibility studies with small amount of funding. Actually, these small studies are necessary to seek larger funds with NIH/NINR or foundation funding. Because I'm a holistic nurse, my questions tend to include the domains of mind, body, and spirit. I model that with my students and I share it here now to encourage future researchers to ask holistic questions and seek holistic answers.


5. What advice can you share with holistic nurses who want to do research?
There are many paths to research and I can talk about three. 1.) If you're a novice, you can work on a research project in a practice or academic
setting. 2.) If you have a pressing question, find a mentor in your practice or academic setting to assist you or to link with her/his grant or consult with the research mentors at the annual AHNA conference. Finally, research is a part of most nursing programs at many levels. It is always a part of any doctoral education. Continue to ask questions-continue to ask holistic questions. Most research starts with these simple questions, "I wonder what . . . ?" or "I wonder if . . . .?" It is one way we move nursing forward.


6. What keeps you inspired to keep doing research?
I stay inspired by talking about research with my colleagues, by reading about research, and by coming the annual AHNA conference and others. I can't promote the AHNA Research Committee and this e-Newsletter enough. Finally, I stay inspired because I have so many questions and so little time (Remember the Nine Contemplations of Atisha!

Poster Sessions Offer Cutting Edge Exchanges

Research Posters are often times "cutting edge" as they can represent new findings and those that may not be mainstream. Cutting edge because findings were not ready when abstract submission is required (usually six months or so before conference). Mainstream is not usually an issue at AHNA as the focus is broad and holistic! However, the study may have been relegated to "non-significant" category if there was lack of statistically significant findings. Yet, due to the complex nature of human interaction there are often subtle areas of change or influence that are of interest and could benefit from discussion and exploration. A great opportunity for this is at the Poster Board Sessions.


At any conference, reviewing posters is often a delightful and insightful way to learn about research. You can see a visual representation of the study at your own pace and dialogue Posters at 2011 Conferencewith the author(s) about any questions or ideas that you have. It serves to facilitate learning for all who engage in participating, both the doers and observers.


This year's conference had nine research poster sessions on a variety of topics that included: an herbal product to reduce anxiety pre-procedurally; self-massage for osteoarthritis; Healing Touch for caregiver stress and also for the elderly with chronic pain; spiritual care in geriatrics; prayer and spiritual transformation; understanding the experience of seasonal affective disorder; dancing into wholeness; and a nurse manifest project. For more information please visit the AHNA website on research.

AHNA's 2012 Conference
Holistic Nurses: Catalysts for Conscious Change
June 13 - 16, 2012, in Snowbird,

Request for Proposals
AHNA invites you to submit Preconference & Workshop proposals for the 2012 Annual Conference by September 7, 2011.  This includes research based workshops, panels and pre-conference workshops.


Research Paper & Poster abstracts will be accepted until December 1, 2011


To learn more or submit a proposal click here.


Research Needs Assessment

The AHNA Research Conference Planning Subcommittee would like to invite you to participate in this online survey regarding holistic nurses research needs. We are interested in identifying the knowledge and educational needs of members of

the AHNA related to research resources, education, and conference offerings.


This should take approximately 10 minutes of your time. Your participation is anonymous. Your contribution is important to our study and your answers play a vital role in our planning for the 2012 conference.


Click here to take this survey


Thank you to those who have already taken this survey. We sincerely appreciate your time and input!

Research Mentorship at AHNA

Research mentorship at 2011 conferenceTheory, Research and Practice are the three pillars that support the discipline of nursing. Research in holistic nursing continues to expand the knowledge and assert the importance of a whole person approach to care.   AHNA has developed a mentoring process for members who are interested in research. Each year at the national conference, participants have the opportunity to sign up for one-on-one mentoring meetings with experienced holistic researchers to share ideas, ask questions, create research partners and in general become more acquainted with the research process. The mentoring sessions have been very popular and each year the number of one-on-one mentor and mentees dyads grows. At this year's conference mentees filled out a questionnaire that gave the mentor an idea of the areas of research interest and experience to enhance and maximize the time spent together at the conference. There were eight mentor/mentee pairs.

A wonderful benefit to this process is that mentors and mentees often continue to work together throughout the year furthering the work begun at the conference. This is not just a one time offering. Throughout the year, as well, AHNA members can ask for help with research questions and ideas by contacting Ruth McCaffrey ( who connects them with appropriate research mentors. As the mentor-mentee work continues it is hoped that research teams consisting of theorists, researchers and practice oriented holistic nurses will increase holistic knowledge and spread the value of a holistic perspective for nursing care.

In order for AHNA to continue to offer mentoring services we are compiling a database of holistic researchers who might be interested in offering their mentoring services to those who have questions or connecting with other researchers who are involved in similar types of research. In the near future, look for a call for researchers to submit information for this database. As members support each other in holistic research we not only assist others to grow but also create a better understanding among nurses, patients, and other healthcare professionals about the importance of holistic nursing research.

AHNA Research News

Research Committee News:

We will have a new AHNA staff person, Debra France, as of August 1, 2011. We want to thank Amber Cline for all her help over the last few years. She has been instrumental in making research enews a wonderful publication. She also started our now more developed section on the website. Sarah Auerbach became our assistant this past spring when web development demanded more of Amber's time. Thanks to both of you for your contributions to the research committee. Amber will continue to publish our research eNews, Connections in Holistic Nursing Research.


The policy for soliciting members to participate in research has been revised and the most current version is on the AHNA web site research section.


Leadership Council News:

In June the Leadership Council participated in a day-long board development workshop with a consultant. It was a terrific experience in learning where our strengths and weaknesses lie. In terms of the Research Council (RC), the coordinator has also been acting as the RC chair. The consultant suggested that this was not a good idea since it left the Coordinator with far too much responsibility for the activities of the committee. In meeting with the 4 co-chairs and the coordinator it was decided to have, instead of one committee chair, two co-chairs. Diane Wardell will chair the section on research dissemination and Ruth McCaffrey will chair the section on the development of Holistic Nursing researcher(s) and research teams.

AHNA Researchers in Action

News and Updates:

Dr. Marlaine Cappelli Smith RN, PhD, AHN-BC, FAAN has been appointed Dean of the Christine E. Lynn College of Nursing at Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton, Florida effective July 1, 2011.  Dr. Smith has served the College since 2006 as Associate Dean of Academic Programs and the Helen K. Persson Eminent Scholar.


Valerie Eschiti PhD, RN, AHN-BC, CHTP, CTN-A accepted a position as Associate Editor for the Journal of Transcultural Nursing.


Ruth McCaffrey DNP was appointed as the Susan B. Raddock Distinguished Professor in Holistic Nursing at Florida Atlantic University.


Recently Funded Studies:
Colleen Delaney PhD, RN, AHN-BC
received a $51,2000 grant from VNA HealthCare Inc. for the study: 'A Randomized Trial of Telemonitoring in Patients with Heart Failure Recently Discharged from Home Care or Skilled Nursing Facility". The primary aim of this experimental study is to determine the efficacy of a telemonitoring intervention in reducing hospital readmission, improving quality of life, and increasing knowledge of heart failure among patients recently discharged from home care or a skilled nursing facility due to heart failure.

Anne Vitale PhD, APN, AHN-BC and Christine E. Lynn received a two-year grant for $84,651.00 from the FDC Foundation a Philanthropic organization for a pilot study to determine the feasibility of an interventional Reiki research protocol in an acute care hospital setting with hospitalized surgical knee replacement patients.  This study uses an experimental design, is 3-armed (Reiki, sham, control, plus standard of care at pre-planned intervals), randomized, blinded and powered to detect trends with Reiki with pain and anxiety that would support entry into a larger multicenter study.


Ruth McCaffrey DNP, the Susan B. Raddock Distinguished Professor in Holistic Nursing, in conjunction with the Morikami Japanese Gardens, have received a $200,000 grant from the Astellas Corporation, a Japanese based Pharmaceutical Corporation, to continue research in the area of Reflective Garden Walking. The study supports 15 groups for a Reflective Garden Walking program at the Morikami. Each group will have a unique focus such as teachers, caregivers and persons with depression. In addition to funding these groups a final program will be provided to alert the public and health care providers concerning the findings and future plans.



Coleen Delaney, Fortinsky, R., Doonan, L., Grimes, R., Pearson, T., Rosenberg, S., & Bruce, M. (2011). Depression screening and interventions for older home health care patients: Program design and training outcomes for a train-the-trainer model. Home Health Care Management & Practice (E-pub ahead of print, DOI: 10.1177/1084822311405459).


Jen Reich. (2011).  Flow: Poems and Stories.  Lexington, KY.  CreateSpace


Jen Reich & Cathy Michaels. (2011).  Becoming whole: The role of story for healing. Journal of Holistic Nursing.  Online First DOI: 10.1177/0898010111412188 


Grassley, J. S., & Valerie Eschiti. (2011). The value of listening to Grandmothers' infant feeding stories. Journal of Perinatal Education, 20(3), 134-141.

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

The Voice of Holistic Nursing 

American Holistic Nurses Association
323 N. San Francisco St. #201
Flagstaff, AZ 86001
(800) 278-2462

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 Co-Editors:
Jackie Levin RN, MS, AHN-C, CHTP


AHNA Leadership Council Coordinator for Research:

Rorry Zahourek PhD, PMHCNS-BC, 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.

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