Success Story: Providence Health Care Nurses Empowered by Research

e-HLbc is always eager to learn of the successes of its members. We recently spoke with two nurses, Patricia Lauridsen-Hoegh and Julie Kille, at St. Paul’s Hospital. They have been participating in the Practice-based Research Challenge, an initiative launched in 2011 with the aim of improving patient care through the promotion of research and evidence-informed practice.

Patricia has worked for fourteen years as a nurse in ward 10C, the medical unit specializing in HIV/AIDS care. Nurses in this ward have noted the frequency of stories of childhood abuse from their female patients. Patricia’s interest in better understanding the women in this ward, and the impact of trauma in their lives, impelled her to submit a research proposal to participate in the Research Challenge. In 2013, Patricia and her colleagues Dr. Dave Unger and Jane McCall organized a team, and with the help of their team mentor, submitted a research proposal.

Julie was delighted to take on the role of team mentor for Patricia’s team. She had worked for seven years in ward 10C as a frontline nurse before transitioning to a leadership position four years ago. She is now the operations leader for HIV/AIDS & Addiction Services. Julie, who is working on her Master of Science in Nursing on top of her full time work, has lent her research and subject expertise to the team.

The team’s research topic is “A prevalence study of childhood trauma among HIV-positive women admitted to the HIV Service at St. Paul’s Hospital” and is funded by the Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research (MSFHR). The team hypothesizes that many of their patients experienced childhood trauma. They have so far recruited 37 patients in ward 10C to participate in the study. To test this hypothesis, the team selected the Binghamton Childhood Abuse Screen (BCAS), a 36-item questionnaire that indirectly scans for a history of childhood abuse. There are a number of medical studies of the use of the tool in the community, but there are no existing studies of its use in hospitals. Once their research is complete, Patricia and Julie plan to present their findings at the annual conference of the Canadian Association of Nurses in HIV/AIDS Care (CANAC).

Patricia and Julie hope that the results of their research will make nurses and other health care providers more aware of the impact of the traumatic experiences of patients in their care. As a program manager, Julie believes the results of the team’s research will help her make decisions for the unit that are based on evidence. Patricia feels that she and other frontline staff are empowered by taking an active role in researching real issues that they encounter in their everyday work.