Areas of Expertise:

Serious Illness & End of Life

Our research addresses difficult challenges faced by very ill individuals and their families.

When a person develops a serious or life-limiting illness, it is a life-changing experience for the patient and their family. New dynamics form as the patient's illness progresses and family members occupy new roles and take on new responsibilities. All must confront questions about existence, death, and the future.

Kent State nurse researchers seek to understand and help those affected by a serious illness that leads to the end-of-life or survival.

Affiliated Faculty

  • Dana M. Hansen, Ph.D., APRN, ACHPN
    Focus: Dynamics of family interaction during advanced serious illness to enhance the quality of life for patients, caregivers, and their families through improved communication; how social media illness stories mitigate caregiver burden and create opportunities for difficult conversations.
  • Amy Petrinec, Ph.D., RN
    Focus: Post-intensive care syndrome (PICS) in patients and family members who have experienced an intensive care stay; family member post-traumatic stress symptoms and coping strategies when making decisions for chronically, critically ill patients.
  • Denice Sheehan, Ph.D., RN
    Focus: End-of-life, hospice, and coping skills of adolescents experiencing the life-limiting illness of a parent; what hospice patients know about their prognosis and how they think about their prognosis.
  • Pamela Stephenson, Ph.D., RN
    Focus: Spirituality and spiritual uncertainty at the end of life; development of two instruments for spiritual uncertainty: the State of Spirituality scale (SOS) and the Spirituality Uncertainty-Providers (SU-P).

Recent Publications & Presentations

Hansen, D., Petrinec, A., Hebeshy, M., Sheehan, D., & Drew, B. L. (2019). Advancing the science of recruitment for family caregivers: Focus group and Delphi methods. Journal of Medical Internet Research Nursing. 2(1), e13862. doi.10.2196/13862

Petrinec, A., & Chen, K. (2019, March). Post-intensive care syndrome-family: Feasibility of cognitive behavioral therapy app. Poster presented at the 43rd Annual Research Conference of the Midwest Nursing Research Society, Kansas City, MO.

Hansen, D., Petrinec, A., & Harb, N. (2019). Use of social media as a communication tool for people with serious illness and their families. In B. Ferrell, N. Coyle, & J. Paice (Eds.), Oxford textbook of palliative nursing (5th ed., chapter 66). New York: Oxford University Press.

Sheehan, D., Hansen, D., Stephenson, P. S., Mayo, M. M., Albataineh, R., & Anaba, E. (2019). Telling adolescents that a parent has died. Journal of Hospice and Palliative Nursing, 21(2):152-159.

Sheehan, D., Hansen, D., Mayo, M., Snyder Cowen, D., & Stephenson, P. (2019). Supporting adolescents with a parent in hospice. In B. R. Ferrell & J. Paice (Eds.), Textbook of palliative nursing (5th ed). New York: Oxford University Press.

Stephenson, P. S., Sheehan, D., Hansen, D., & Mayo, M. (2019). Spiritual uncertainty among hospice providers: “There were tensions.” Journal of Hospice and Palliative Nursing, 21(1):90–95.

Stacey, C., Taber, J., & Sheehan, D. (2018, September). Embracing uncertainty: Prognostic awareness among hospice patients. Paper presented for the Kent State University Department of Sociology, Kent, Ohio.

Stephenson, P. S., & Hebeshy, M. (2018). The delivery of end-of-life spiritual care to Muslim patients by non Muslim providers. MEDSURG Nursing, 27(5).

Hansen, D. (2018, April). Recruiting family caregivers through social media. Paper presented at the 42nd Annual Research Conference of the Midwest Nursing Research Society, Cleveland, OH.

Petrinec, A. (2018, April). Post-intensive care syndrome symptoms and HRQOL in family decision makers of critically ill patients. Paper presented at the 42nd Annual Research Conference of the Midwest Nursing Research Society, Cleveland, OH.

Petrinec, A. (2017). Post-intensive care syndrome in family decision makers of long-term acute care hospital patients. American Journal of Critical Care, 26(5), 416-422. doi:10.4037/ajcc2017414

Recent Grants

Investigator(s) Grant Title Funding Agency
Dana Hansen Health Care Provider Experiences with Patient Social Media Illness Stories Kent State University Research Council
Amy Petrinec, Yea-Jyh Chen, Joel Hughes (Psychology), and Melissa Zullo (College of Public Health) Post-intensive Care Syndrome Family: Feasibility of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Delivery Utilizing a Mobile Health App Kent State University Healthy Communities Research Initiative Launch Pad 
Denice Sheehan, Pam Stephenson, and Murray Mayo (Ursuline College)  Family Members’ Communication with Hospice Physicians and Other Hospice Team Members During the Final Days of the Patient’s Life in Hospice House Kent State University Research Council
Jennifer Taber (Psychology), Clare Stacey (Sociology), and Denice Sheehan Translating Knowledge of Risk Perceptions to Improve Prognostic Awareness Measurement among Terminally Ill Patients Kent State University Healthy Communities Research Initiative