Petrinec Explores Mobile App Therapy for Families of the Seriously Ill

From Touch Point Online Magazine, Fall 2019 – Vol. III, Issue 3

Photo of Amy Petrinec

According to the Society of Critical Care Medicine, nearly six million patients in the United States are admitted to the intensive care unit (ICU) each year, and family members of these critically ill patients are at risk for developing clinically significant psychological distress, referred to as post-intensive care syndrome. Drawing from her extensive background in ICU clinical nursing as a practitioner, educator, and researcher, Amy Petrinec, Ph.D., RN, Assistant Professor at the College of Nursing, investigates post-intensive care syndrome for patients in ICU and long-term acute-care settings and their families to improve their health-related quality of life.

During her years as an ICU nurse, Dr. Petrinec noticed that chronically, critically ill patients, as well as their family members, commonly experience negative psychological symptoms. As a doctoral student, she examined this phenomenon more closely and focused her dissertation research on posttraumatic stress symptoms and coping mechanisms of ICU patients’ family members both during and after hospitalization. As a post-doctoral fellow at Case Western Reserve University, Dr. Petrinec broadened her research interests to include post-intensive care syndrome symptoms experienced by family members of ICU and long-term acute care hospital patients, including anxiety, depression, and posttraumatic stress. 

Currently, Dr. Petrinec is testing interventions designed to reduce the negative impact of critical illness on health and quality of life for patients and their families. Both patients and family members may suffer from anxiety, depression, and posttraumatic stress following prolonged hospital stays, symptoms which may be compounded when family members find themselves in caregiving roles.

With funding awarded through Kent State University’s Healthy Communities Research Initiative, Dr. Petrinec is conducting a feasibility study to examine smartphone app delivery of cognitive behavioral therapy, a non-pharmacological treatment that emphasizes changing distorted thoughts and behaviors and promoting more positive coping strategies. Titled, Post-Intensive Care Syndrome-Family: Feasibility of a Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Delivery Utilizing a Mobile Health App, this study represents a novel approach to the treatment of post-intensive care syndrome symptoms by integrating smartphone delivery of a cognitive behavior therapy app with other support provided to patients and family members during and after ICU hospitalization. 

Dr. Petrinec received her Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree from Bowling Green State University, her Master of Science in Nursing degree from Ursuline College, and her Doctor of Philosophy in Nursing degree from Case Western Reserve University, where she also completed a postdoctoral fellowship in symptom management and palliative care. In addition to funding provided by Kent State University’s Healthy Communities Research Initiative, her research has been supported by grants from Sisters of Charity Foundation of Cleveland, Sigma Theta Tau, and Select Medical.

Findings from her research studies have been published in numerous scholarly journals, including Critical Care Medicine, American Journal of Critical Care, Journal of the American Geriatric Society, Western Journal of Nursing Research, Palliative & Supportive Care, Psycho-Oncology, Journal of Clinical Oncology, and an invited chapter for the fifth edition of the Oxford Textbook of Palliative Nursing. Dr. Petrinec holds membership in the American Association of Critical Care Nurses, Midwest Nursing Research Society, Society of Critical Care Medicine, and Palliative Care Research Cooperative.

POSTED: Wednesday, September 25, 2019 - 12:48pm
UPDATED: Thursday, March 26, 2020 - 11:50am
Denise Karshner