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Faculty Feature: Dr. Andrea Warner Stidham
Following a major life challenge or traumatic event, many people find their belief system upended and experience lingering psychological distress. However, the period following a life-altering crisis may also be a time of personal growth in which new possibilities, improved relationships, and renewed appreciation for life may lead to positive change, a process referred to as posttraumatic growth. Dr. Andrea Warner Stidham, Assistant Professor at the College of Nursing, seeks to understand posttraumatic growth by investigating this phenomenon in vulnerable populations. She is particularly interested in exploring manifestations of posttraumatic growth following traumatic life events, including sexual violence, spousal deployment, and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). For example, as Principal Investigator on grant project supported by the American Psychiatric Nurses Association, Dr. Warner Stidham helped to identify the relationship of posttraumatic growth to depressive symptoms and physical health in spouses of U.S. Service members deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan. As Co-Investigator on the College’s $1.1 million Health Resources and Services Administration Behavioral Health Workforce Education and Training Program grant, she has worked to establish a Project ECHO® hub at Kent State University to improve access to behavioral and physical healthcare, or integrated care, by sharing knowledge among academic and healthcare professionals.
Most recently, Dr. Warner Stidham has partnered with Dr. Catherine Schoenewald, a researcher at Cleveland State University, to examine posttraumatic growth among adults who have aged out of foster care, some of whom are current students at Cleveland State and/or members of the University’s foster care alumni group. For this qualitative study, Drs. Warner Stidham and Schoenewald plan to interview approximately 30 study participants about their experiences growing up in the foster care system, both positive and negative, and how they manage their lives post foster care. Study participants will also complete a posttraumatic growth inventory so researchers may examine the impact of difficult life changes and events on this population. To determine how these students develop a sense of identity and belonging in their new communities, participants will also use cameras, or photo elicitation, to document their daily lives as foster care alumni. College is often especially stressful for students exiting the foster care system since many of their peers enjoyed more stable childhoods and cannot relate to problems encountered by this population. Dr. Stidham would like to continue this program of research by eventually developing a longer-term intervention for children currently in foster care to ease transitions into adulthood.
Foundational to her research on posttraumatic growth, Dr. Warner Stidham has served as a psychiatric mental health nurse with clinical areas of expertise that include children, adolescents, and adults with psychiatric and/or mental health issues in both inpatient and outpatient settings. She has over ten years of clinical and teaching experience in mental health and counseled children and adolescents affected by grief due to loss of parents, siblings, and/or grandparents. Dr. Warner Stidham received her Master of Science in Nursing and Doctor of Philosophy in Nursing from Kent State University. In addition to published articles in scholarly journals such as the Journal of Nursing Measurement, Journal of Clinical Research in HIV AIDS and Prevention, and the Journal of the American Psychiatric Nurses Association, she has authored a nursing textbook chapter related to child and adolescent mental health disorders and treatments. Dr. Warner Stidham has presented her research at the American Psychiatric Nurses Association, Military Health System Research Symposium, and Annual Research Conference of the Midwest Nursing Research Society. In addition to her research pursuits, she teaches graduate courses for the Kent State University College of Nursing, including Introduction to Evidence-Based Practice, Advanced Mental Health Assessment and Psychopathology Across the Lifespan, and Individual, Family and Group Therapy.