Faculty Feature: Dr. Dana Hansen and Amy Veney

From Touch Point Online Magazine, Vol. II, Issue 3 – 9/10/18

Forging new and innovative pathways in nursing research, Dr. Dana Hansen and Ms. Amy Veney of the Kent State University College of Nursing are contributing new knowledge to the fields of palliative care and family interaction during advanced serious illness (Hansen) and healthcare disparities faced by sexual and gender minorities (Veney). Working within their respective fields, both are active researchers and educators conducting funded research studies and disseminating their findings through publications, presentations, and classroom interactions.

Dana M. Hansen, Ph.D., APRN, ACHPN, Assistant Professor

Photo of Dana HansenBuilding on her research and clinical experience in palliative care, Dr. Dana Hansen seeks to understand the dynamics of family interaction during advanced serious illness and enhance the quality of life for patients, caregivers, and their families through improved communication. Dr. Hansen studies contemporary approaches to communication, particularly social media illness stories or illness blogs, which may provide comfort, ease distress, and enrich family communication at the end of life. Recognizing that social media has shifted societal communication patterns and engagement, she theorizes that patient social media illness stories serve to mitigate caregiver burden while providing helpful information and facilitating hope and social support. Findings from her research studies have revealed that social media illness narratives create opportunities for difficult conversations between patients and family caregivers, encouraging interactions that improve feelings of well-being for patients and family caregivers and bringing a sense of meaning to difficult situations.

Working as part of a family-centered hospice and palliative care research team at Kent State University College of Nursing, Dr. Hansen and her colleagues, Drs. Denice Sheehan and Pamela Stephenson, share a commitment to understanding family relationships at the end-of-life. Collectively, the team has a number of funded research studies that explore optimal end-of-life care for patients with advanced serious illness and their families; Dr. Hansen has served as a co-investigator for studies funded by the American Nurses Foundation, Palliative Collaborative Research Consortium, and Kent State University Research Council. She received the College’s Zeller Scholarship Fund for her study, “The Caregiver’s Experience with an Illness Blog: A Pilot Study,” to examine the effects on the surviving caregiver of using a social media tool to communicate thoughts at the end of life. She was also awarded funding through the Midwest Nursing Research Society New Investigator Seed Grant program for her study, “Family Caregiver Recruitment through Social Media.” To better understand the needs of family caregivers and improve family caregiver well-being, Dr. Hansen investigated strategies to recruit family caregivers through social media who interact with their loved ones online via social media illness stories. As an outcome of this study, Dr. Hansen developed a video directing viewers to an online caregiver registry that allows family caregivers to provide contact information and receive notification of upcoming studies of interest. Click here to view the video

Along with her research activities, Dr. Hansen shares her knowledge with current College of Nursing students, teaching courses such as Introduction to Evidence-Based Practice, Theoretical Basis for Nursing Practice, and Theory Construction and Development in Nursing. She has disseminated her research findings through peer-reviewed research presentations, including the National Symposium for Academic Palliative Care Education and Research, Midwest Nursing Research Society, Annual Assembly of the American Academy of Hospice and Palliative Medicine, and the Hospice and Qualitative Health Research Conference. Dr. Hansen’s publications may be found in numerous academic journals such as Palliative and Supportive Care, International Journal of Palliative Nursing, and Journal of Hospice and Palliative Nursing, as well as invited chapters for the Oxford Textbook of Palliative Nursing and Nursing Theorists and Their Work. Her memberships and leadership roles with the Palliative Care Research Cooperative Group, Hospice and Palliative Nurses Association, Midwest Nursing Research Society, and Association of Internet Researchers attest to her ongoing efforts to examine social media as a communication tool among seriously ill patients and their families and caregivers.

Amy Veney, MSN, RN, CNE, Ph.D. Student

Photo of Amy VeneyAmy Veney’s research centers on disparities faced by gender and sexual minorities in health care and the most effective ways to decrease these disparities. Her professional bedside experiences as a registered nurse and nurse clinician serve as the foundation for her ongoing research as a faculty member in the College of Nursing. Ms. Veney theorizes that mistreatment in the form of discrimination, bias, and even physical violence may result from ignorance, fear, and lack of knowledge regarding sexual and gender minorities by health care providers and that better education is key to improved outcomes. As part of this line of inquiry, she also examines intersectionality, or the multiple identities an individual may share such as race/ethnicity, socioeconomic status, age, gender identity, and sexual orientation, and the challenges these identities may present to those seeking equitable health care. A current Ph.D. student who took her candidacy exam at the end of August, Ms. Veney’s dissertation research more specifically examines the health care experiences of transgender and gender-diverse individuals with a serious, life-limiting illness.

During Ms. Veney’s master’s program at the College of Nursing, she was mentored by Dr. Carol Sedlak, who introduced her to Dr. Cynthia Roller, who passed in 2016. She became a member of Drs. Roller and Sedlak’s research team studying health care for transgender individuals with two funded studies by the American Nurses Foundation and Sigma Theta Tau International: “Engaging in Health Care: How Transgender Individuals Access Health Care Services” and “Osteoporosis Prevention in Transgendered Individuals.” She has continued secondary analysis and dissemination of data originally collected by Dr. Roller and co-presented these study findings at the 40th Annual Research Conference of the Midwest Nursing Research Society (MNRS) in Milwaukee. At the 2018 MNRS Annual Research Conference in Cleveland last spring, Ms. Veney presented information on a closely research area of interest, “Ambivalence: A Concept Analysis As It Relates to Accessing Health Care,” to better understand contributing factors to and explore the consequences of ambivalence in relation to accessing comprehensive, quality health care. Defined as the simultaneous existence of conflicting views, attitudes, or desires toward a goal, object, individual, or group, ambivalence may result when gender and sexual minorities or other individuals require medical care yet are hesitant to seek it due to fears of exposure or mistreatment. 

In addition to her program of research, Amy Veney serves the Kent State University College of Nursing as a lecturer for classroom and clinical instruction, teaching courses such as Professional Nursing Development (coordinator), Nursing of Adults Across the Lifespan (clinical), and Pharmacology and Alternations in Physiologic Functioning. She has co-authored multiple publications for peer-reviewed journals, including three articles for Orthopaedic Nursing and one for The Journal for Nurse Practitioners. Along with her presentations at MNRS, Amy Veney has presented her scholarly work at numerous conference presentations, including the 2017 Aultman College Simulation Symposium in Canton, Ohio and the National Association of Orthopaedic Nurses 33rd Annual Congress in San Antonio, Texas. Her commitment to study and promote equitable health care for all individuals, regardless of racial, gender, or sexual identity, is reflected in her affiliations with the Midwest Nursing Research Society, Hospice and Palliative Nurses Association, World Professional Association for Transgender Health, and Sigma Theta Tau International Honor Society, Delta Xi Chapter. In her spare time, she also volunteers as a registered nurse for the Medical Reserve Corps in Medina County.

POSTED: Tuesday, September 4, 2018 - 12:55pm
UPDATED: Thursday, March 26, 2020 - 11:51am
Denise Karshner