January 9, 2004

Dissertation enhancement awards presented

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Dr. Elizabeth Heitman

Tom Christenbery, Ph.D. candidate and lecturer in Nursing, and Cynthia O’Neal, Ph.D. candidate, have both been awarded dissertation enhancement awards from the Vanderbilt University Graduate School.

Christenbery’s award will help facilitate his travel to Madison, Wis. to consult with Sandra Ward, Ph.D., an expert in using the “Common Sense Model.” The model is a tool that has previously been used with oncology patients to assess how cognitive representations of pain influence the selection of coping procedures and subsequent evaluation of those procedures.

Christenbery is the first researcher to use this model to guide cutting-edge research related to dyspnea, the sensation of labored and difficult breathing frequently seen in patients with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD).

O’Neal’s award will help her travel to New Haven, Conn. to consult with Kathleen Knafl, Ph.D., an expert in the area of family coping and normalization, which is the way some people cope with chronic illness.

O’Neal is developing and validating a quantitative normalization measure to be used in patients with rheumatoid conditions. There is currently no such measure for patients suffering from chronic problems.