Verna Hendricks-Ferguson, PhD, RN, Professor
, received an R21 grant of $291,106 from the
National Institutes of Health – National Institute of Nursing Research
(NIH-NINR) to determine the best strategy and time period for health
care providers to discuss palliative care and end-of-life information
with parents of children with brain tumors who have a poor prognosis.
R21 grants are intended to encourage exploratory/developmental research
by providing support for early and conceptual stages of project
development. The study has been funded over a two-year period
Dr. Hendricks-Ferguson is the first faculty member at Barnes-Jewish
College to successfully receive NIH-NINR funding. This R21 study builds
upon her previous work during a three-year, T32 NIH-NINR funded
post-doctoral fellowship at the Indiana University School of Nursing.
Early communication about palliative care and end-of-life is considered a
high priority by the National Institutes of Health and the American
Academy of Pediatrics. Yet health care providers are reluctant to
initiate the discussion because parents may show resistance to receiving
such information and the information may diminish parents’ hope for
their child’s survival while still in treatment.
Dr. Hendricks-Ferguson’s research involves designing a communication
intervention in which the health care team initiates the discussion
within two weeks after prognosis of the disease. She says the study may
help health care providers learn ways to provide timely information in
sensitive ways in order for parents to make decisions regarding starting
and/or ending treatments, and advanced care planning.