Current Funded Projects



Principal Investigator Title (click each link for more info) Sponsor / Type 
 Barroso, Julie V.  Understanding the Effects of Substance Use on Male Couples' Risk for HIV  Sub University of Hawaii/NIH/NIDA
Bryant, Debbie Chatman  Grace Impact Developmental Health Services Program of Berkeley County Coastal Community Foundation of SC/Volvo Grant Fund
Chandler, Jessica Patient Centered Health Technology Medication Adherence Program for African American Hypertensives NIH/NHLBI
Davidson, Tatiana M. Expanding the Reach of a Novel Mental Health Service for Traumatic Injury Patients
 Duke Endowment
Mobile web resources to improve firefighters' use and benefit from behavioral health services   Dept. of Homeland Security/Federal emergency Management Agency (FEMA)
Davidson, Tatiana M.  Web-based resource to assist behavioral health providers work within fire service organizations   Dept. of Homeland Security/Federal emergency Management Agency (FEMA)
Durham, Catherine (Cathy) O. Behavioral Health Workforce Education and Training (BHWET) Program
 Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA)
The Choose Well Initiative
 The New Morning Foundation
Fowler, Terri O.
Building the Healthcare Workforce to Serve the Underserved
 Duke Endowment
Kelechi, Teresa J. Monitoring and managing newly healed chronic leg and foot ulcer skin temperature: a cooling intervention (MUSTCOOL) to prevent ulcer recurrence
Technology Enhanced Self-Management Interventions for Fatigue and Pain: The Symptoms Self-Management Center
 Kelechi, Teresa J.
Qanungo, Suparna
Mealtime Partnership for People with Dementia in Respite Centers & at Home  NIH/NINR 
 Magwood, Gayenell  Community-based Intervention under Nurse Guidance after Stroke (CINGS)  American Heart Association (AHA)
Using Portable Telemedicine to Connect Home Bound Patients to Medical and Social Resources (Connected Home)  South Carolina Research Authority (SCRA)
 Mueller, Martina  A Randomized Controlled Trial of Electroconvulsive Therapy versus Usual Care for the Acute Management of Severe Agitation in Alzheimer's Dementia (ECT-AD)  Sub. McClean Hospital/NIH/NIA
 Muzzy, Wendy  Innovative Treatment for Female Victims of Military Sexual Trauma (MST) and PTSD  Dept. of Public Safety/Violence Against Women Act (VAWA)
Muzzy, Wendy  Peer Social Support During in Vivo Exposure for PTSD: A Program to Address Dropout from Prolonged Exposure   US Army/USAMRAA
 Muzzy, Wendy The Efficacy of 90-Minute vs. 60-Minute Sessions of Prolonged Exposure for PTSD: A Randomized Controlled Trial in Active Duty Military Personnel Sub Univeristy of Pennsylvania/Dep. of the Army 
 Newman, Susan D. A Qualitative Exploration of Peer Mentoring after Spinal Cord Injury in Delhi, India   Sigma Theta Tau
 PHOENIX: Development of a Spinal Cord Injury Peer-Supported Self-Management Intervention  Dept. of Health and Human Services (DHHS)/Administration for Community Living
Phillips, Shannon  A Self-Management Program for Youth Living with Sickle Cell Disease NIH/NINR - K23
 Ruggiero, Kenneth J.  Bounce Back Now: A Low-Cost Intervention to Facilitate Post-Disaster Recovery  NIH/NIMH - R01
 Improving Quality of Care in Child Mental Health Service Settings  NIH/NIMH
 Smith, Gigi  Addressing Mental Health Needs in SC by Primary Care Nurse Practitioners  BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina
 Advanced Nursing Education Workforce (ANEW) Program  Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA)
Enhanced Screening, Brief Intervention, & Referral (SBIRT) Training through Multi-Modal Medication Assisted Treatment Instruction Duke Endowment
 Nurse Faculty Loan Program  HRSA
Stecker, Tracy CBT by Phone to Promote Use of Alcohol Related Care and Reduce Drinking   Sub. University of Rochester/NIH/NIAAA
 Increasing Treatment Seeking Among At-Risk Service Members Returning from Warzones  US Army/MOMRP
 Treiber, Frank A.  Patient Centered Health Technology Medication Adherence Program for African American Hypertensives  NIH/NHLBI
 Smartphone Delivered Meditation for BP Control among Prehypertensives  NIH/NHLBI - R01
 Williams, Amy A.  Boosting Our Barrio: A Community Based Intervention to Improve School Preparedness for At-Risk Children  Duke Endowment



Understanding the Effects of Substance Use on Male Couples' Risk for HIV
Sponsor/Type: Sub University of Hawaii/NIH/NIDA
Project Period: 04/01/2017-03/31/2020
Julie V. Barroso, PhD

The aims of this mixed methods project are to: (1) examine the intrapersonal, interpersonal, and contextual factors associated with event-level substance use and condomless anal sex among male couples by using a 6- month longitudinal study to collect and synthesize three types of dyadic data: ecological momentary assessments, quantitative assessments and qualitative interviews; (2) identify which intrapersonal, interpersonal, and contextual factors are associated with event-level substance use that did not involve CAS among male couples, and how these factors and substance use events differed from usage that occurred with CAS. The proposal is innovative as it applies mixed methods, uses technology to capture event-level substance use and other risky behavioral data, and applies theory and methods that are couples-based. The public health significance of the proposed study is to further our understanding and elucidate how substance use affects male couples' risk for HIV. Findings obtained from this novel project will help inform future development of HIV and substance use preventive interventions for this population.

For more information contact Dr. Barroso at
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Grace Impact Developmental Health Services Program of Berkeley County
Sponsor/Type: Coastal Community Foundation of South Carolina/Volvo Grants Fund
Project Period: 09/01/2019 - 08/31/2020
Debbie Chatman Bryant, DNP, RN, FAAN, Associate Dean for Practice

Berkeley County is home to an estimated 219,000 residents and is designated as medically underserved, representing a shortage of primary care providers (2,900:1). Over 20% of Berkeley County residents are uninsured and 12.8% of residents live in poverty. Residents of Berkeley County, especially those that are poor and uninsured, are affected disproportionately by poor health as a result of uneven distribution of resources or social determinants of health (SDOH). SDOH factors such as low literacy, poor housing, low household incomes, the inability to exercise, lack of transportation, and proximity to medical services affect one’s ability to live, work, and access healthcare. These factors contribute to higher rates of chronic disease (diabetes, hypertension). The average commute to access healthcare for residents is 28 minutes. Increased access to primary care is key for management of chronic diseases and improved health outcomes. To increase access to quality primary care in Berkeley County, MUSC's College of Nursing (CON), Grace Impact Development Center (GIDC) and East Cooper Community Outreach (ECCO) in partnership with the South Carolina Telehealth Alliance (SCTA) and Volvo’s Operation Fund, propose establishing a community safety-net primary care clinic in Berkeley County. The clinic will expand on the partnership and success of a primary care clinic established in 2013 by CON and ECCO. The proposed clinic will utilize remote patient monitoring (telehealth) to create a primary care medical home thereby increasing access and reducing SDOH burdens. In the initial year, nurse practitioners (NPs) will staff the clinic quarterly, providing upwards of 192 patient encounters. The site will provide students with hands-on training for primary care delivery systems and experiences in SDOH. Funding will support infrastructure and resources including staff, equipment (remote monitoring glucometers, lancets, and blood pressure monitors), supplies, and high-speed Wi-Fi.

For more information contact Dr. Bryant at

Patient Centered Health Technology Medication Adherence Program for African American Hypertensives
Sponsor/Type: NIH/NHLBI
Project Period: 07/10/2017-04/30/2021
Jessica Chandler, PhD.

Efforts to improve medication non-adherence (MNA) and blood pressure (BP) control in patients with hypertension (HTN) have met with limited success. Innovative approaches are needed that are acceptable, sustainable, efficacious, and easily disseminated. There have been no randomized controlled trials (RCTs) evaluating the application of theory-driven, patient centered, mobile health (mHealth) technology programs among African Americans (AAs) with MNA and uncontrolled HTN. The proposed research will test and refine the Smart phone Medication Adherence Stops Hypertension (SMASH) program. SMASH includes multi-level components: 1) automated reminders from an electronic medication tray; 2) tailored text message/voice mail motivational feedback and reinforcement guided by self-ˇdetermination theory and based upon adherence to daily medication and BP monitoring and 3) automated summary reports and direct alerts to providers. A 6-month, 2-arm (SMASH vs. enhanced Standard Care [SC]) efficacy RCT will be conducted in 192 AAs (21-59 years old) with electronic monitor derived MNA and repeated clinic and 24hr BP verified uncontrolled HTN. Evaluations will occur at baseline, months 3 and 6, and post-trial follow-ups at months 12 and 18. Specific aims are to test the hypotheses that, compared to the enhanced SC cohort, the SMASH cohort will demonstrate significantly improved and sustained changes in: 1) Primary Outcome Variables: a) Medication adherence: % with electronic monitor-derived adherence scores >0.90; b) BP control: % meeting JNC8 guidelines for BP control (resting BP <140 0="" mmhg).="" 2)="" secondary="" outcome="" variables:="" a)="" %="" reaching="" and="" sustaining="" 24-hr.="" ambulatory=""><130 0="" mmhg;="" b)="" %="" of="" provider="" adherence="" to="" jnc8="" guidelines="" as="" measured="" by="" timing="" of="" medication="" changes="" and="" c)="" patient="" changes="" in="" self-determination="" theory="" constructs="" (e.g.,="" competence="" and="" autonomous="" motivation).="" 3)="" exploratory="" outcomes:="" a)="" moderators="" (e.g.,="" gender,="" age,="" income)="" and="" mediators="" (e.g.,="" perceived="" severity="" of="" disease,="" med="" side="" effects,="" depression="" symptoms,="" etc.)="" of="" medication="" adherence="" and="" bp="" control;="" b)="" cost="" effectiveness="" and="" c)="" physical="" risk="" factor="" changes="" (cholesterol,="" ldl,="" hga1c,="" blood="" glucose).="" after="" final="" follow-up="" evaluations,="" focus="" groups="" with="" random="" sample="" of="" smash="" subjects="" (total="" n="32)" and="" healthcare="" providers="" (total="" n="~12)" will="" assess="" key="" user="" reactions="" including="" acceptability,="" usability,="" salience="" and="" aids/barriers="" to="" sustainability.="" data="" from="" rct="" and="" focus="" groups="" will="" be="" triangulated="" to="" further="" refine="" and="" optimize="" smash="" and="" prepare="" for="" a="" multi-site="" effectiveness="" rct.="" our="" long-term="" objective="" is="" to="" reduce="" premature="" mortality="" among="" aas="" by="" developing="" effective="" and="" sustainable="" mhealth="" chronic="" disease="" medical="" regimen="" self-management="" programs="" including="" medication="" adherence,="" bio-function="" monitoring="" (e.g.,="" bp)="" and="" timely="" bidirectional="" contact="" with="" healthcare="">

For more information contact Dr. Chandler at

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Expanding the Reach of a Novel Mental Health Service for Traumatic Injury Patients

Sponsor/Type: Duke Endowment
Project Period: 06/01/2017 – 05/31/2020
Tatiana M. Davidson, Ph.D.

Our primary aim is to implement Trauma/Telehealth Resilience and Recovery Program (TRRP) in three partnering Level I-II trauma centers in South Carolina. TRRP activities include provision of in-hospital education after traumatic injury (Step 1), enrollment in our text-message service to monitor emotional recovery (Step 2), 30-day telephone mental health screen (Step 3), and provision of mental health treatment or referral (Step 4). We will initiate this process with each center by working closely with hospital leadership (i.e., trauma medical director, trauma program manager) and key personnel (e.g., social workers) to determine the optimal approach toward implementing TRRP and identify, record, and address barriers to integration. Most of this planning will focus on optimal procedures supporting the initial brief (i.e., 10 min) educational encounter because all other levels of our service will be provided via various forms of technology. We will document barriers and solutions to implementation at each site to inform future dissemination initiatives.


One full-time coordinator will be hired at each Center to provide TRRP services using funds from The Duke Endowment and MUSC Health Center for Telehealth. Coordinators will complete a 2-week intensive training in TRRP operations at MUSC. Training will include orientation to program goals and procedures, guided reading and discussion, and hands-on supervised experience in the first (in-hospital education) and third (telephone mental health screen) step of TRRP. MUSC staff will provide all support for the second (text messaging) and fourth (mental health treatment) steps of TRRP. Best practice treatment will be offered directly or by referral based, in part, on our capacity and patient preference. We will continue to provide oversight to coordinators throughout the award period and will travel to each site on a quarterly basis to work with hospital leadership and provide booster training. Site coordinators will maintain daily contact with the MUSC team to support program operations.

For more information contact Dr. Davidson at
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Mobile web resources to improve firefighters' use and benefit from behavioral health services

Sponsor/Type: Dept. of Homeland Security/Federal emergency Management Agency (FEMA)
Project Period: 08/22/2018 – 08/21/2020
Tatiana M. Davidson, Ph.D.


Behavioral health is a profound concern among firefighters but only a fraction receives appropriate care. Behavioral health providers often do not have firefighter-centric training or decision aids that they need to deliver the best possible services. Firefighters need ways to help them understand where to find the treatment they need and how to work with a therapist to get the best effect from their treatment. This project does both.  It first builds on our successful training platform for clinicians to expand their understanding of firefighters and how to help engage them in treatment; it also builds app resources modeled on our successful Pocket Peer platforms to help firefighters identify the help they need and find therapists prepared to help them.  Together, these products help ensure that clinicians have skills, information, tools, and support to provide effective help and firefighters have tools and support to fund and utilize the help they need.

For more information contact Dr. Davidson at

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Behavioral Health Workforce Education and Training (BHWET) Program
Sponsor/Type: Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA)
Project Period: 09/30/2017 – 08/31/2021
Catherine (Cathy) O. Durham, DNP, APRN, FNP-C


This application requests funds to support innovative interdisciplinary academic-practice partnerships to prepare psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner (PMHNP) students in the MSN and DNP at MUSC CON for the professional track. The purpose of this project is to expand lifespan behavioral health workforce through increased longitudinal placements and provide interprofessional training in collaborative practice for students, faculty, and preceptors (field placement supervisors). The BHWET project will provide stipends to PMHNP students who commit to completing their field placement and plan to pursue employment in rural, vulnerable, and/or medically underserved areas (MUA). MUSC CON opened a PMHNP BSN to MSN/DNP program in Fall 2016 and enrolled 11 PMHNP students and 10 new students will be matriculating for Fall 2017. The CON graduated 68 primary care nurse practitioner students during 07/01/16-06/30/17. 100% of graduates from the previous year (07/01/2015 – 06/30/2016) are employed in rural, underserved and public health practice settings with 51% being classified as a HPSAs and 91% as a MUAs. Thus, demonstrating our historical support of these populations. We are requesting special funding consideration based upon the CON’s significant contribution to meeting the needs of the rural and underserved in SC.

The Goals/Objectives for the BHWET grant include:

1. Provide stipend support to eligible PMHNP students completing final field placement.

2. Expand community partnerships to increase longitudinal field placements while developing recruitment strategies with AHEC to increase employment for PMHNP students post-graduation in rural, vulnerable, and /or medically underserved areas.

3. Implement and provide interprofessional collaborative practice training to CON students, faculty and preceptors using enhanced didactic and experiential activities integrating behavioral health and team-based care to increase competencies.

4. Communicate with other BHWET Program grant recipients to share successes and problem solve any challenges or barriers to ensure optimal program outcomes as part of ongoing quality improvement and evaluation.

Processes and evaluation for the BHWET program will occur as follows:

Objective 1: PMHNP students will be eligible to apply in the final year of full-time or final two years for part-time study. A rubric will be used to rank and fund the top students. Priority points will be awarded to disadvantaged and/or diverse students, and students who live or have clinical rotations in rural areas, MUAs or HPSAs. Students must remain in good standing each semester. All BHWET students will sign a commitment letter (Attachment 8) each funded year. Longitudinal data collected includes post-graduation position placement. 

Objective 2: Innovative community partnerships will be expanded. 

Objective 3: Didactic and experiential training using the Interprofessional Core Competencies will occur with students, faculty and preceptors. 

Objective 4: As part of ongoing project quality improvement, we commit to participating in email, blog and/or HRSA interactive phone conferences to ensure best program outcomes. An annual performance report and final report will be submitted as required.

For more information contact Dr. Durham at
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The Choose Well Initiative
Sponsor/Type:The New Morning Foundation
Project Period: 01/01/2017 – 12/31/2020
Catherine (Cathy) O. Durham, DNP, APRN, FNP-C

Choose Well is a statewide initiative of the New Morning Foundation, whose goal is to substantially and measurablyreduce unintended pregnancy among women and teens in South Carolina over a 4-year period (2017-2020).  This collective impact initiative will involve a wide range of partners, including state agencies and coalitions, health care services, schools and colleges of nursing and medicine, and community-based and community-serving organizations, whose individual and collaborative work will result in better access to highly effective contraceptive methods and a decrease in unintended pregnancy.

For more information contact Dr. Durham at
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Building the Healthcare Workforce to Serve the Underserved
Sponsor/Type: Duke Endowment
Project Period: 12/01/2016 – 11/20/2019
Terri O. Fowler, DNP, APRN, FNP-C

The goal of this proposal is to develop a model of integrated clinical experiences for interprofessional teams of students within the safety net delivery systems to establish a network of teaching community health centers. This proposal builds on the momentum established by the AHEC Institute for Primary Care, a collaboration between the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) and East Cooper Community Outreach (ECCO) to provide care to the uninsured, and an interest by Fetter Health Care Network (FHCN), a Federally Qualified Health Center, to build a pipeline of primary care providers to serve the underserved.

For more information contact Dr. Fowler at
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Mealtime Partnerships for People with Dementia in Respite Centers & at Home

Sponsor/Type: NIH/NINR
Project Period: 09/01/2017 – 06/30/2021
Teresa J. Kelechi, PhD, RN, GCNS-BC, CWCN and Suparna Qanungo, PhD

The goal of this study is to test the efficacy of a mealtime intervention (Partners at Meals) in respite care centers (RCCs) that provide a social model of care for people with dementia living in the community and support for their caregivers. Largely staffed by long-time volunteers, these centers support caregivers’ ability to maintain their loved one in the home. Outcomes include improvements in: a) quality of life (QOL) and nutritional outcomes for people with dementia (PWD) and QOL outcomes for family caregivers (CGs); b) self-efficacy training outcomes for assessing and managing meals for the CGs and the RCC volunteers; and c) sustainability outcomes as determined by directors of the RCCs. Two large RCCs with a total of 5 sites of care in suburban and rural areas of SC will be the sites of this project; and 60 PWDs and 60 CGs will be recruited for this cluster-randomized trial, as well as potentially 60 staff and volunteers. Caregiving for PWDs is increasingly occurring in the community by persons who are often not prepared to assume this responsibility. Fortunately, RCCs evolved as a vital community-based resource that provide socialization, meaningful activities, respite for caregivers and at least one meal daily. Mealtime is a particular problem for PWDs because as this life-limiting disease progresses, they lose the functional ability to manage meals and display a variety of challenging behaviors all of which will eventually affect their ability to consume adequate calories and continue the social aspects of meals that connect them to others. A HIPAA-compliant telehealth system using simple ‘tablets’ will allow CGs to capture behaviors and environmental aspects of meals in the home at the time behaviors occur so that plans of care can be tailored to PWD needs. Using a train-the-trainer model, volunteers will be taught to assess the environment (Place), the interactions between the PWD and others (People), and the actions of the PWD (Person). They will then train the CGs to make those observations so they can tailor and change mealtimes in the home – the telehealth component supports this. Thus this project could be used in the community as a model for behavior modification for other dysfunctional behaviors in the home. This study proposes to examine the following aims: (Primary) Compared to participants in ‘enhanced usual care’ sites, PWD participants in the intervention sites will demonstrate improvement in nutritional status and dysfunctional behaviors, and QOL; (Secondary) a) CGs will report improve QOL and self-efficacy for managing meals, and decreased depression and burden; c) RCC volunteers will report improved self-efficacy for training and management of feeding issues; and d) Directors will report satisfaction with the program and willingness to continue the program post-funding. Additionally, hospitalizations and discharges related to nutrition-related issues among PWDs will be collected for future work.

For more information contact Dr. Kelechi or Dr. Qanungo at

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Monitoring and managing newly healed chronic leg and foot ulcer skin temperature: a cooling intervention (MUSTCOOL) to prevent ulcer recurrence

Sponsor/Type: NIH/NINR - R01
Project Period: 06/15/2015 – 03/31/2020
Teresa J. Kelechi, PhD, RN, GCNS-BC, CWCN

The goal of this randomized control trial is to test a patient directed self-monitoring and self-management intervention aimed at preventing the recurrence of chronic venous leg and diabetic foot ulcers using skin temperature and cryotherapy (cooling). We propose MUSTCOOL, a novel ulcer prevention strategy for patients at highest risk for developing chronic ulcers; those with a previous history. We aim to compare a cooling treatment to a placebo to determine the outcomes on ulcer recurrence, pain, physical activity and quality of life.

Individuals with newly healed chronic ulcers will be invited to participate in MUSTCOOL’s two component intervention: 1) self monitoring skin temperature over targeted “hot spots” daily with an infrared thermometer; and 2) maintenance cooling with a cooling pack (or placebo pack) placed over the “hot spot” three times each week for 30 minutes. If the temperature of the “hot spot” becomes elevated 2°F above baseline (average of 30 days of daily temperature readings) for 2 days in a row, a bolus regimen of 5 consecutive daily, 30 minute applications of the cooling or placebo pack will be implemented.  We will monitor safety and side effects, however, there have been no reported adverse events reported in our previous cryotherapy studies.

We designed this chronic ulcer prevention intervention that targets the remodeling phase, the final repair process of healing after chronic ulcer closure. The skin environment is particularly vulnerable to ulcer recurrence due to a persistent aberrant inflammatory state.  Our previous research has demonstrated that cooling this skin reduces the abnormal metabolic activity, protecting it against ulcer recurrence. Recent advancements in infrared technology allow us to take images of the affect skin to identify the area that has the highest temperature or vulnerable “hot spot”.  These “hot spots” will be self monitored by patients with newly healed ulcers in the home with an infrared thermometer that date and time stamps each reading. The study’s outcomes on physical activity will be evaluated with an accelerometer. We hypothesize that by improving the skin environment and reducing pain, patients will more likely be physically active and have better quality of life, all measurable goals for this study.

We will evaluate this prevention strategy over six months in 180 patients, 90 of whom will be randomized to receive the cooling pack and 90 the placebo.  Our goal is to test this non-pharmacological, non-invasive clinical intervention as a tailored self-management strategy to prevent chronic ulcer recurrence. It will also determine alleviation of symptoms such as pain, and the debilitating effects on physical activity and quality of life.

For more information contact Dr. Kelechi at
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Technology Enhanced Self-Management Interventions for Fatigue and Pain: The Symptoms Self-Management Center

Sponsor/Type: NINR/P20
Project Period: 08/01/2016 – 04/30/2021
Teresa J. Kelechi, PhD, RN, GCNS-BC, CWCN

The overall goal of the Symptoms Self Management Center is to build a critical mass of research thematically focused on targeting symptoms of fatigue and pain through complementary, synergistic research activities. Toward this end, the National Institute on Nursing Research-funded (NINR-P20) Symptom Self Management Center (SSMC) at the College of Nursing, Medical University of South Carolina, provides the infrastructure and context for nurse scientists who will: 

IDENTIFY groups of patients, who are at risk for chronic disease symptom exacerbation in the areas of fatigue and pain through cutting edge biomedical informatics 

DEVELOP effective, scalable and sustainable technology enhanced self management interventions that are accessible to these patients through iterative, patient-centered design approaches; and 

EVALUATE these in real world community settings through established community partnerships interventions. 

In other words, the SSMC will deliver novel self management interventions where they are needed, to whom they are needed, when they are needed. 

Thus, the SSMC Specific Goals are:

  1. Strengthen the infrastructure within which emerging investigators in self management interventions can collaborate with biomedical informaticists to use predictive analytic strategies to identify patients suffering from symptoms of fatigue and pain, across a variety of disorders in the early stages of symptom development.


  3. Provide instrumental support for junior and experienced investigators to collaborate with ehealth, mhealth, and web health design experts from the MUSC Technology Applications for Health Lifestyles (TACHL) health-technology center to iteratively design patient centered, technology enhanced self and self/family management interventions.


  5. Build upon the existing community based infrastructure that facilitates enhanced access to and relationships with community partners to develop ecologically valid, natural community laboratories that would otherwise not be feasible to create in the short time frame of pilot projects.

For more information contact Dr. Kelechi at
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Community-based Intervention under Nurse Guidance after Stroke (CINGS)
Sponsor/Type: American Heart Association (AHA)
Project period 07/01/2015-06/30/2020
Gayenell S. Magwood, PhD, RN, Alumnus CCRN

Stroke is the leading cause of severe disability in Americans, and African Americans (AA) are at the highest risk for stroke with rates approximately twice those of Whites. Also concerning, stroke in AA occur at younger age, and with higher severity than whites. Despite being affected at younger ages, AAs are less likely than whites to return to equivalent functional status and are more likely to die following stroke. This disparity cannot be explained by access to acute care or rehabilitation, but may relate to other personal, familial, and community factors that remain understudied. Because diabetes and hypertension are more prevalent among AA relative to Whites, and because both are significant risk factors for stroke, complex factors underlying these chronic diseases very likely also contribute to increased rate and relatively poor outcome of stroke found in AA. To address these complex issues, an innovative, coordinated approach is required that considers patient, family, and community level factors, both to explain disparate stroke recovery rates and to design and implement efficacious interventions for post stroke recovery in community residing AA patients. We have designed and successfully implemented precisely such an approach with Diabetes Belt communities and propose to do so for Stroke Belt communities as well through the Community-based Intervention under Nurse Guidance after Stroke (CINGS), a 12 week, nurse-coordinated, community health worker-delivered home-based intervention. Therefore, we propose to (1) Identify primary barriers and facilitators of post-stroke recovery for AA in the US Stroke Belt Buckle of SC through formative qualitative research (i.e., interviews, focus groups) with AA patients with stroke, their families, community leaders, and public health practitioners. (2) Develop CINGS intervention components to improve AA stroke recovery and community participation in stroke recovery activities by integrating evidence-based guidelines and AA community generated evidence to address factors that perpetuate disparity in stroke recovery. And (3) Subject CINGS to a pilot RCT with approximately 60 patients obtain variability estimates, measure preliminary effects, and explore potential relationships with mediators/moderators. We hypothesize that the intervention group will significantly improve along impact and outcome measures of interest as compared with the usual care group.

For more information contact Dr. Magwood at
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Using Portable Telemedicine to Connect Home Bound Patients to Medical and Social Resources (Connected Home)
Sponsor/Type: South Carolina Research Authority (SCRA)
Project period 05/01/2018 – 12/20/2019
Gayenell S. Magwood, PhD, RN, Alumnus CCRN


This Academic-Industry Collaboration focuses on home care, not just medical but social. Home based care which is “Patient Centered” by its nature and the home is where most patients want to be treated and cared for as long as possible. It is, however, at the “low resource” end of the medical care ecosystem and currently “disconnected” for the most part except for the telephone and intermittent visits by home health aides. Using technology to enable more complex and sophisticated care delivery in the home setting by well-trained lower resourced home care paraprofessionals with the right combination of “high touch” and “high tech “is the objective of this collaboration. HRSA projects the demand for a “direct care” workforce (paraprofessionals) will expand by 34% by the year 2025 (1). In 2018 the paraprofessional workforce (nursing assistants and home health aides) is estimated at 4.3 million and represent the largest group of workers in home and long-term care services (2). There are no formal education requirements for home health aides but most have a high school diploma and a standard certification process is required for medical assistants working in long-term care (1)

The target patient/home of this project is one that most would consider “frail”, with a diagnosis of stroke, (although relevant to many others) with comorbid conditions, poor mobility both within and outside the home, limited resources and high risk for cyclical care transitions (hospital readmissions). Home Health (as configured today), Direct to Consumer (Teledoc-E Consults) and/or Remote Patient Monitoring (RPM) fail to eliminate gaps in care for these patients and that failure results in unnecessary illness and escalating expense (3). This collaboration will examine whether it is feasible for a portable Telemedicine Care platform (Zeriscope), which provides face to face clinician-patient and nurse-direct care worker interaction/examination, along with sensor data, to be introduced into existing home services to increase the complexity and sophistication of the care provided by adding audio-video interaction, both between patient and anyone from a range of individuals in some way on the care team/care network including nurses, pharmacists, advanced practice providers, primary care physicians, specialists, palliative care spiritual counselors, as well as off-site relatives and friends. Because Zeriscope is fully web based, any of these persons along this spectrum can readily achieve access to the patient/home using a web browser. In addition, integration of bio sensors to measure vital signs and activity will be streamed through the platform. The project will: 1) identify 10 potential subjects (enroll N= 5 willing to participate) in the tri county area using the MUSC RESTORE data base and College of Nursing collaborators 2) arrange special home visits during which real time telemedicine consultation will be conducted (PCP or PI serving as a proxy) ; 3) demonstrate auscultation, ear nose and throat examination, ECG; 4) using qualitative research methods determine both technical and human factors issues (feasibility) that arise during the deployment as well as acceptability 5) arrange for and carry out a tele-visitation with an off-site relative, friend or minister; 6) obtain pilot data on time and motion factors, skills supervision needed in anticipation of developing the direct care workforce as the newly trained “tele-medical home health assistant for low resource environments” who will in future provide the home-based connection at value while other team members are effectively leveraged without incurring travel. Collaborating partners are: 1) MUSC, College of Medicine (Neurology); MUSC College of Nursing; 4) Zeriscope, Inc; and 5) Trident Technical College. This project addresses a significant problem and need, engages experienced investigators and the appropriate business partner, and uses an approach which will lead to larger scale testing and evaluation.

For more information contact Dr. Magwood at
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A Randomized Controlled Trial of Electroconvulsive Therapy versus Usual Care for the Acute Management of Severe Agitation in Alzheimer's Dementia (ECT-AD)
Sponsor/Type: Sub. McClean Hospital/NIH/NIA
Project Period: 09/30/2018 – 05/31/2023
Martina Mueller, PhD

Alzheimer's dementia (AD), the most prevalent neurodegenerative disease of aging, affects cognition, emotion, and behavior. Agitation is a common behavioral syndrome that frequently emerges during middle to late stage AD and is characterized by psychomotor hyperactivity, aggression, irritability, yelling, resistance to care, and insomnia. The untoward consequences of agitation and related behavioral disturbances are considerable and include impaired quality of life, accelerated cognitive decline, heightened risk of institutionalization, and increased morbidity and mortality. Agitation also increases caregiver burden, including stress and deleterious health consequences. However, despite the damaging impact of agitation on the patient and caregiver, current treatments have only modest efficacy. Behavior management strategies are widely employed, but effective only in mild cases. Antipsychotics, the most commonly used class of medication for agitation and psychosis in dementia, have demonstrated mixed results in controlled studies and are associated with elevated morbidity and mortality. Thus, there is a clear need for improved interventions, particularly for severe agitation in AD. Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT) is a safe and effective intervention for severe mood disorders in later life, including depression complicated by psychosis, mania or catatonia. Concerns regarding adverse cognitive effects of ECT, however, have limited ECT's clinical use in treating dementia with agitation. Both retrospective and prospective studies conducted by our group support the safety and efficacy of ECT in patients with AD and severe agitation. ECT, therefore, may represent an effective treatment of severe agitation in AD. We propose a five-site, randomized, single-blind, controlled clinical trial to determine the safety and efficacy of ECT plus usual care compared with Simulated ECT (S-ECT) plus usual care in 200 hospitalized individuals with moderate to severe stage AD, probable Alzheimer's type (based on NIA-AA criteria), complicated by severe agitation. Subjects will be randomized to either (1) ECT for three weeks (up to 9 ECT treatments) plus usual care (UC), defined as standard behavioral therapy and pharmacotherapy or (2) Simulated ECT (S-ECT) plus UC. Primary efficacy will be measured with the Cohen-Mansfield Agitation Inventory (CMAI). Safety parameters include daily assessment of delirium (Confusion Assessment Method, CAM), cognition (Severe Impairment Battery, SIB-8) and serious adverse events. A 12-week follow-up includes monthly assessments to explore stability of agitation reduction.


For more information contact Mrs. Mueller at

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Innovative Treatment for Female Victims of Military Sexual Trauma (MST) and PTSD

Sponsor/Type: Dept. of Public Safety/Violence Against Women Act (VAWA)
Project Period: 10/01/2017 – 09/30/2019
Wendy Muzzy

Problem Summary

Female members of our Armed Forces experience sexual trauma (MST-Military Sexual Trauma) at a rate 400% that of female civilians. Social Withdrawal leading to depression and other psychological problems is a major problem following MST. Treatment programs for these women are housed in VA Medical Centers, where patients and counselors are predominantly male and services are thus predominantly male oriented. As such, greater than 95% of all identified female victims of Military Sexual Trauma Veterans DO NOT receive any services from the VA for the psychological effects of their MST experience.


1. The MUSC College of Nursing will collaborate with the non-profit 501c3, Veterans on Deck, to provide evidence based counseling services for Military Sexual Trauma and combine these with mastery and empowerment experiences specifically designed to the counter-act Social Withdrawal common in Military Sexual Trauma victims. These experiences will make use of the Veterans On Deck sailing vessels and Veterans on Deck volunteer psychologists and social work counselors, and will include team building, mastery, and empowerment training during sometimes challenging conditions found on sailing vessels.

2. The Project will include Spanish speaking and African American counselors and trainers during empowerment and mastery sailing sessions. 

3. The College of Nursing will collaborate with the Veterans on Deck non-profit and with the Charleston VA Medical Center, PTSD Clinical Team (PCT). The PCT will refer women identified as victims of Military Sexual Trauma to this program. Note, the Director of the current project is a collaborates with the VA PCT team on multiple projects, thereby assuring referral flow and inter-agency cooperation.

Project Objectives

1. Formal agreements for sail training and counseling of Military Sexual Trauma Victims will be made between the non-profit Veterans on Deck and MUSC.

2. Formal volunteer rosters of counselors trained to treat sexual trauma and Military Sexual Trauma will be finalized.

Female victims of Military Sexual Trauma will receive counseling services via on the water training.


For more information contact Mrs. Muzzy at

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Peer Social Support During In Vivo Exposure for PTSD: A Program to Address Dropout from Prolonged Exposure
Sponsor/Type: US Army/USAMRAA
Project Period: 03/15/2018 – 03/14/2022
Wendy Muzzy

Technical Abstract

    *Background: Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a significant problem for Veterans and Active Duty personnel. Although effective treatments for PTSD exist (e.g., Prolonged Exposure, PE; Cognitive Processing Therapy; CPT) and have, at great expense, been widely disseminated by VA and DoD, over of those 30% who start treatment subsequently drop out prior to completion.
     In our first preliminary study we addressed published survey data from Veterans indicating that dropout was related to logistical barriers such as travel time, cost, and stigma associated with care from mental health settings, and so overcame these barriers by delivering treatment via 
home based telehealth. However, dropout remained virtually unchanged. Veterans in our study who dropped out of treatment, including that delivered via home based telehealth, were interviewed and a majority responded that they would (a) consider returning to treatment and (b) would be more likely to complete treatment if a peer who had themselves successfully completed treatment were available to help them with exposure homework.
     In keeping with this feedback, our second preliminary study examined the feasibility of using peers to (a) encourage Veterans who had dropped out of PE to return to treatment and (b) offer support during in vivo (real world) exposure therapy homework assignments (e.g., as they would during ‘gym workouts’). Preliminary findings indicate that such an approach is feasible, and potentially effective, in that over 50% of dropouts from PE agreed to return to treatment and 30% of these actually did so immediately.
*Objective: We propose to evaluate whether the opportunity to receive social support duringin vivo exposure therapy homework from Veterans who themselves have successfully competed PE (i.e., the therapeutic equivalent of an exposure therapy ‘workout buddy’) is effective in reversing dropout and improving PTSD outcomes; and, secondarily, to determine whether this program is particularly helpful for those receiving PE via telemedicine.
*Study Design: We will use a between group, randomized controlled repeated measures design comparing PE+Exposure Workout Buddy vs. Supportive Counseling (the standard treatment referral option for PE dropouts) to evaluate the ‘PE+Exposure Workout buddy’ adjunctive therapy component in terms of its ability to increase likelihood that veterans will (a) return to and complete treatment & (b) evince reduced PTSD Symptomatology at post, 3&6 month followup.
*Specific Aims:  Aim 1: To determine relative differences in treatment dose obtained, measuredin terms of the number of sessions completed upon return to treatment, in response to ‘PE+ Exposure Therapy Workout Buddy’ vs. ‘Supportive Counseling’ in individuals who have previously dropped out of evidence based treatment for PTSD. Aim 2: To determine differential effectivenessmeasured in terms of therapeutic gains over time on measures of PTSD symptomatology, of ‘PE+ Exposure Workout Buddy’ with therapy dropouts in (i.e., ‘treatment outcome’). Exploratory Aim 3. To determine the presence of an initial signal of differential dose and effectiveness of ‘PE+ Exposure Therapy Workout Buddy’ when delivered in traditional in person (face to face) vs. telemedicine formats.
*HypothesesHypothesis 1: Treatment ‘dose’, measured in terms of number of sessions completed post randomization, will be greater for participants in the PE+ Exposure Workout Buddy condition compared to the Supportive Counseling condition. 
Hypothesis 2: Treatment ‘outcome’, measured in terms of PTSD symptom reduction scores, will be significantly more improved for participants in the PE+ Exposure Workout Buddy relative to Supportive Counseling condition at each assessment point (post treatment, 3 month and 6 month followup).
*RelevanceMilitary: If the present intervention, which builds upon the teamwork and leadership skills implicit in military training, is effective in retaining individuals in treatment who otherwise would drop out, then we may well be able to dramatically address the high dropout rate from our most effective class of interventions, and thus significantly enhance our ability to sustain force strength.Civilian: Findings from this study will potentially provide direction to reducing the high dropout rate from evidenced based treatment for PTSD among rape victims, accident victims, victims of natural disaster, and victims of terrorist acts. As such, the public impact of this project’s findings are potentially enormous.

For more information contact Mrs. Muzzy at
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A Qualitative Exploration of Peer Mentoring after Spinal Cord Injury in Delhi, India

Sponsor/Type: Sigma Theta Tau
Project Period: 11/01/2018 – 05/01/2020
Susan D. Newman, PhD, RN, CRRN

On any given day, the average person does not give spinal cord injury (SCI) a second thought. That is, until something out of the ordinary happens. A car crash. A fall from a tree. Suddenly paralysis is at the forefront of everything; affecting the individual’s home life, personal relationships, vocational and social activities, and health care. In developed countries, the majority of the population is fortunate to have access to health care, from well-trained first responders to specialized rehabilitation. However, in low to middle income countries (LMIC) such as India, people with SCI often do not obtain medical care until months or years after sustaining the injury, and they often have inadequate or no rehabilitation (Chhabra & Arora, 2013; World Health Organization [WHO], 2013). 


Individual with SCI require access to health, social, educational, and vocational resources to self-manage SCI effectively and lead a productive life. In these circumstances, peer support programs and advocacy organizations for people with disabilities play a crucial role in offering education, guidance, and support (WHO, 2013). The WHO’s International Perspectives on Spinal Cord Injury report recommends that one strategy to overcoming barriers to services and resources is “person driven approaches,” such as peer mentoring. Peer mentoring typically involves individuals who have gone through a similar experience to that of the mentee, and as a result of their distinct life experiences are well positioned to provide education, guidance, and advice to the mentee, as well as help build the mentee’s feelings of self-worth and self-efficacy, and a sense of community (Beauchamp et al., 2016; Gassaway, Houlihan, Skeels, & Jones, 2018). In developed countries, peer mentoring and support is a common component of rehabilitation for people with SCI, and there is evidence that it contributes to improved adjustment and functioning (Ljungberg, Kroll, Libin, & Gordon, 2011; Sherman, DeVinney, & Sperling, 2004). In India, the use of peer mentoring is emerging, primarily from grassroots, community-based organizations (Jain & Jain, 2018), and there is growing interest in the development of structured peer mentoring interventions for SCI (see letters of support). 


The purpose of this study is to gain an in-depth understanding of the community-based peer mentoring experience after SCI in India from the perspective of both peer mentors and individuals receiving peer mentorship. Using a community engaged research (CEnR) approach (Newman et al., 2014) and methods of qualitative description (Sandewloski, 2000, 2010), we propose an in-depth exploration of the experiences and perceptions of 1) individuals with SCI who have functioned as designated peer mentors and 2) individuals with SCI who have been the recipients of peer mentorship in India. Results of this study will guide future efforts with our Indian collaborators to develop and implement a structured community-based peer mentoring intervention, and to conduct future investigations evaluating the effect of peer mentoring on health, participation, and quality of life after SCI in India.


Dr. Newman, the PI of this study, is a certified rehabilitation registered nurse. Rehabilitation is an inherently interprofessional specialty including rehabilitation medicine and nursing, physical and occupational therapy, social work, and psychology. Yet, rehabilitation nursing is notably absent in India, with post-SCI rehabilitative care being provided primarily by medical and allied health professionals. The focus and goals of this study reflect the philosophy that guides rehabilitation nursing: “to help individuals across the lifespan who are affected by chronic illness or physical disability to achieve their greatest potential, adapt to their disabilities, and work toward productive, independent lives” (Association of Rehabilitation Nurses, 2016). Peer mentoring is one potential strategy to extend the goals of rehabilitation nursing into underserved communities.


There is currently no published research on the use of peer mentoring to support post-SCI rehabilitation in India. This exploratory, qualitative study will be the first known investigation on the experience of peer-mentoring to support health and community participation after SCI in India. Findings of this study can inform innovative approaches to community-based SCI rehabilitation, especially in the context of low to middle income countries (LMIC).

For more information contact Dr. Newman at

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PHOENIX: Development of a Spinal Cord Injury Peer-Supported Self-Management Intervention

Sponsor/Type: Dept. of Health and Human Services (DHHS)/Administration for Community Living
Project Period: 09/30/2017 – 09/29/2020
Susan D. Newman, PhD, RN, CRRN


The goal of this 2-phase, 3-year proposal is to develop and pilot test, in partnership with the South Carolina Spinal Cord Injury (SCI) Association, a SCI Peer Navigator intervention for implementation across South Carolina, integrating online and telehealth platforms. Our Peer-supported Health Outreach, Education, aNd Information eXchange (PHOENIX) intervention, which builds on our pilot Peer Navigator study, is specifically designed to promote self-management after SCI. The broad goals of PHOENIX are to improve participants’ community participation and quality of life (QOL) and decrease subjective impact and occurrence of secondary conditions and rehospitalization after SCI. During Phase 1, we will complete translation of our existing in-person SCI Peer Navigation program for online and telehealth delivery. Key objectives of Phase 1 include: 1) integration of mobile technology to improve access and reach of PHOENIX, and 2) development of additional multimedia online educational content. During Phase 2, we will conduct a randomized waitlisted pilot trial to identify potential logistical and methodological issues of both intervention implementation and study procedures in preparation for conducting a future full scale, randomized controlled trial. Key objectives of Phase 2 include: 1) evaluation of feasibility, acceptability, and fidelity of intervention implementation and study design and procedures, and 2) obtaining estimates of variability of relevant outcome measures. The expected outcomes are that PHOENIX will be feasible and acceptable to participants and stakeholders, and we will observe increased levels of community participation and QOL, and decreased subjective impact and incidence of medically serious secondary conditions and rehospitalizations. The expected products are Peer Navigator training and PHOENIX curriculum housed in the online iTunes U platform.


For more information contact Dr. Newman at

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SMYLS: A Self-Management Program for Youth Living with Sickle Cell Disease

Sponsor/Type: NIH/NINR - K23

Project Period: 04/18/2019 – 03/31/2022
Shannon Phillips, PhD, RN



The long-term objectives of this K23: Mentored Patient-Oriented Research Career Development Award are to develop the candidate, Dr. Shannon Phillips, into an independent investigator and prepare her to lead large, rigorously designed, randomized clinical trials with the goal of improving symptoms self-management in children, adolescents, and young adults with sickle cell disease (SCD) and their families. Individuals with SCD often live with burdensome symptoms, such as acute and chronic pain and fatigue. Further, as children with SCD transition into adolescence and adulthood, comorbidities and rates of healthcare utilization increase. Scalable self-management interventions that promote preventive care and reduce comorbidities are critical to improving symptom and self-management, quality of life, and healthcare utilization, consistent with the mission of the National Institutes for Nursing Research. The proposed career development plan was developed with Dr. Teresa Kelechi, primary mentor, and the candidate’s mentorship team of experts in communication, technology, statistics and chronic conditions in special populations. The plan builds on the candidate’s previous clinical nursing, educational, and research experience to accomplish the following training-specific aims: 1. Develop expertise in designing interventions to facilitate symptom and self-management; 2. Attain skills and knowledge to conduct rigorous, randomized clinical trials; 3. Enhance knowledge of applying mHealth strategies to reach special populations; 4. Further develop skills as a scholar, including developing and sustaining collaborative, interdisciplinary relationships; and 5. Develop a sustainable program of research with funding as an independent nurse scientist. Goals will be accomplished through the following training methods: one-on-one, hands-on experience with mentors; participation in local and national conferences, workshops, and institutes; and formal coursework. Outcomes of training will include published manuscripts relevant to the application topic, presentations at local and national conferences, and an NIH R01 submission. The candidate will apply skills obtained during training to the conduct of a pilot study to assess the feasibility of an mHealth intervention for facilitating self-management behaviors in adolescents with SCD. Estimates of variability for measures of transition readiness, physical and psychological symptoms, healthcare utilization, and quality of life will also be obtained. A key focus of the intervention will be on patient-provider communication effectiveness pertaining to self-management development. Training activities and research will take place at a research-intensive institution with extensive resources devoted to early career investigators, including those offered via the CTSA, such as the Technology Applications Center for Healthful Lifestyles and the Special Populations Program. At the conclusion of this award, the candidate will have strong pilot feasibility data and necessary training to be well-positioned to pursue career goals including NIH-funding and a research trajectory in symptoms self-management.


For more information contact Dr. Phillips at


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Bounce Back Now: A Low-Cost Intervention to Facilitate Post-Disaster Recovery

Sponsor/Type: NIH/NIMH - R01
Project Period: 08/01/2015 – 07/31/2020
Ken Ruggiero, PhD

Disasters confront individuals with a wide range of stressors, including threat of death or injury, loss of loved ones, limited access to basic needs, and financial strain due to property damage or disruptions in employment. Many survivors are resilient or recover rapidly, but a significant minority develops behavioral health problems such as posttraumatic stress disorder and depression. Some efficacious treatments exist for these mental health problems, but many disaster survivors encounter barriers to receipt of services (e.g., stigma, time commitment, cost, scheduling, transportation). The availability of brief, effective, free, and highly accessible interventions to facilitate personal and community resilience and rapid and sustained recovery is potentially of tremendous value to disaster-affected communities and disaster response agencies. We propose to evaluate Bounce Back Now (BBN),a novel, scalable, and highly sustainable technology-based intervention. BBN will be accessible via any device that is connected to the internet, such as a computer, smartphone, or tablet; it will be optimized for mobile devices to ensure that it is highly accessible and user friendly. The intervention consists of three major components: (1) a symptom/activity tracking component designed to facilitate self-monitoring in the acute post-disaster phase; (2) a brief self-help intervention component that aims to accelerate mental health recovery relative to PTSD and mood symptoms; and (3) a provider assistance component that will connect survivors to a national Disaster Distress Helpline. Our research has supported the feasibility of the first two components of BBN, and the initial efficacy of the brief intervention component of BBN. The Disaster Distress Helpline is a national service administered by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration that provides crisis counseling and local referrals to mental health providers. We will recruit 5,000 disaster survivors to test the intervention: 2,500 will be randomly assigned to the BBN condition, the other 2,500 to an enhanced usual care comparison condition. We will also examine the cost effectiveness of the BBN intervention relative to enhanced usual care. A secondary research aim centers on the exploration of triage-level risk factors that are associated with mental health recovery, use of BBN, and service utilization. The American Red Cross and the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response have partnered with us on this proposal and will assist us with participant recruitment and collection of data relating to triage-level risk factors. We will conduct this research using an innovative phased-funding approach that will ensure that we are prepared to initiate research in the immediate aftermath of a triggering disaster incident. This study will significantly improve the evidence base around technology-based disaster mental health intervention.

For more information contact Dr. Ruggiero at
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Improving Quality of Care in Child Mental Health Service Settings

Sponsor/Type: NIH/NIMH
Project Period: 08/01/2017 – 05/31/2021
Ken Ruggiero, PhD

Assuring children access to the highest quality mental health care is a top national priority. Yet, quality of care continues to be highly variable in traditional service settings. Novel, scalable solutions are needed to address modifiable quality-of-care indicators in sustainable ways. To this end, provider fidelity and children’s engagement are key correlates of clinical outcome and practical targets for intervention. There is tremendous opportunity to address both through technology. Studies in child education show that interactive games, touch-screen learning, and demonstration videos enhance engagement, knowledge, motivation, and learning. These benefits also may extend to the therapeutic context, where strategic integration of technology-based activities may enhance children’s learning, strengthen the therapeutic alliance, and keep providers on protocol. We are in the final stages of an NIMH R34 in which we piloted a patient- and provider-informed tablet-based toolkit designed to facilitate delivery of Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (TF-CBT) – a treatment that was selected because it addresses a wide range of symptoms using techniques shared by other treatments for emotional and behavioral disorders. The tablet-based toolkit consists of numerous components (e.g., videos, interactive games, drawing applications) that are designed to facilitate provider-patient interactions in a way that enhances children’s engagement and supports adherence to the treatment model. The tablet-based toolkit was very well received by children, caregivers, and providers in our pilot work. Moreover, all benchmarks for feasibility outlined in our NIMH R34 application were met or exceeded. We now propose to conduct a hybrid effectiveness-implementation trial to examine the extent to which the tablet intervention may improve fidelity, engagement, and children’s mental health outcomes. We will conduct a randomized controlled trial with 120 mental health providers and 360 families in partnership with dozens of clinics in the Carolinas and Florida. Providers will be assigned randomly to tablet-facilitated vs. standard TF-CBT. Youth aged 8-16 years with clinically elevated symptoms of PTSD will be recruited. Baseline and 3-, 6-, 9-, and 12-month post-baseline assessments will be conducted by independent, blind evaluators. Sessions will be video recorded for observational coding of engagement and fidelity by independent raters blind to study hypotheses. We will also examine costs and conduct semi-structured interviews with families, providers, supervisors, and agency leaders to inform future dissemination and implementation initiatives. Technology-based resources that are scalable, easy to use, and designed for efficient integration into everyday practice may have sustained national impact. The return on investment of these initiatives will ultimately rest on their potential to improve the spread of best-practice treatments and the quality with which they are delivered to the children who need them.


For more information contact Dr. Ruggiero at
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Advanced Nursing Education Workforce (ANEW) Program

Sponsor/Type: Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA)
Project Period: 07/01/2017 – 06/30/2023
Gigi Smith, PhD, APRN, CPNP-PC

This application requests $2.5 million to support innovative academic-practice partnerships to prepare primary care APRN students in the MUSC CON DNP program. The purpose is to increase the longitudinal clinical immersive training experiences with rural and/or underserved populations for selected primary care (PC) APRN students, implement a clinical preceptor orientation and support program, and facilitate post-graduate employment and follow-up in rural and HPSA and/or MUA in four nurse practitioner roles: AGNP, FNP, PMHNP, and PNP. The ANEW project will provide traineeships to 16-18 students who commit to at least two years of primary care work in a rural and HPSA and/or MUA. CON graduated 55 APRN students during 07/01/17-06/30/18; 100% are employed in rural, underserved and public health settings, and 84% are employed in HPSAs and 53% in MUAs (Table 1). Since 2010, CON has funded a total of 136 students who received AENT (n=81), ANEE (n=30) and ANEW (n=25) HRSA grants. Currently, 100% of their practice sites are in underserved and public health settings of which 76% are in HPSAs, 82% in MUAs and 24% in rural areas. We are requesting special funding consideration based upon the CON’s significant contribution to meeting the needs of the rural and underserved in SC.

The objectives for the ANEW grant include:

1) Establish or enhance at least 1 innovative academic/clinical partnership between 1 or more schools of nursing and 1 or more clinical practice partners; 2) Provide longitudinal immersive clinical training experiences for APRN students in community-based settings, including providing support through traineeships; 3) Recruit, train, develop, support, and evaluate preceptors as program partners to enhance community-based clinical and didactic nursing education; 4) Connect APRN graduates with resources to assist employment in rural and underserved areas; 5) Follow up on graduates’ careers to determine retention in nursing practice and in rural/underserved communities for at least 1-year after graduation.

Processes and evaluation for the ANEW program will occur as follows:

Objective 1. CON will continue to partner with SC AHEC for clinical placements for APRN students and support students’ participation in AHEC’s Institute for Primary Care, promoting interprofessional development and AHEC’s Scholars program. We are establishing a new partnership with MUSC Family Medicine Clinic and an innovative partnership with Francis Marion University Graduate Nursing Program to disseminate our online APRN telehealth curriculum.

Objective 2: Full-time APRN students at any program point and part-time students in the last year will be eligible to apply. A rubric will rank the top students. Priority points will be awarded to disadvantaged and/or diverse students, and students who live in or have clinical rotations in rural areas, MUAs or HPSAs. Students will be tracked and registered each semester. Support during training includes enhanced curriculum experiences in palliative care, substance abuse, and telehealth. Students will sign a commitment letter (see Workplan & Budget Justification) each funded semester. Longitudinal data to be collected includes post-graduation position placement. An annual performance report and final report will be submitted as required.

Objective 3: The online clinical preceptor orientation will be implemented in fall 2019 after pilot testing in spring 2019. The program will be housed on the AHEC website. Preceptors will earn a certificate upon completion; they are also invited to events for faculty at CON, the annual faculty telehealth conference, and CON’s online SBIRT/Opioid training modules at no cost.

Objective 4: We will disseminate a recruitment program we developed with AHEC for NP/PA/medical students to encourage post-graduation primary care employment in rural, MUA and HPSA areas. Students will also be oriented to the HRSA Healthcare Workforce Connector to assist with finding employment.

Objective 5: Student Services maintains communication with CON graduates and distributes the annual Alumni Survey to ascertain employment location and measures such as committee work, presentations/publications, and evaluation of skills used and/or needed in practice. CON will obtain graduates’ NPI numbers to track employment. 

For more information contact Dr. Smith at

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Enhanced Screening, Brief Intervention, & Referral (SBIRT) Training through Multi-Modal Medication Assisted Treatment Instruction
Sponsor/Type: Duke Endowment
Project Period: 01/01/2018 – 12/31/2019
Gigi Smith, PhD, APRN, CPNP-PC

Problem or opportunity addressed. Addiction problems are outpacing healthcare providers’ abilities to treat them. This is due, in large part, to deficits in healthcare provider education and training programs on primary care-based addiction intervention. 21.6 million Americans have a substance use problem and less than 20% receive treatment, but most present to primary care at some time during their addiction. Failure to offer screening and treatment during these visits represents a missed opportunity. SBIRT is ranked as the third highest prevention priority for adults based on preventable disease burden and cost-effectiveness. With Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration funding, the MUSC Training Team (TT) has fully integrated SBIRT training into the Colleges of Medicine and Nursing curricula, and trained MUSC faculty and community preceptors. Since October 2015, over 950 MUSC students, faculty and community preceptors have been trained in SBIRT. Student feedback via evaluations and focus groups has been excellent. The next step is to address the opioid epidemic which takes more than 30,000 lives/year in the US. Evidence based MAT is a combination of medication and behavioral therapies effective in substance use disorder (SUD) treatment requiring specialized training. With few providers currently prepared to provide MAT services (e.g., there are ONLY TWO in SC), the 2016 Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA) provided for waivers that would allow physicians, nurse practitioners (NPs) and physician assistants (PAs) to become certified MAT practitioners and increase MAT patient load. This content is lacking in the MUSC healthcare provider education. The MUSC TT is fully integrated and is perfectly poised to distribute this critical knowledge and skills to the current and future health care providers who will serve SC and the country.

Population served. Within the first year of the project, the curriculum will be enhanced to include opioid crisis content (prevention, MAT, overdose reversal medications, and other recovery support services/resources) and will target medical and nursing students who will be future providers, as well as their faculty and preceptors. The project will expand in Year 2 to other colleges to include PAs and Dental students, as well as state-wide training to MD providers registered nurses, advanced practice nurses, and PAs. Implementation of the evidence-based training program will decrease disparities in access to care, improve health outcomes for the active and at-risk SUD population, and encourage primary care providers to seek further education and certification as MAT certified providers.

Program design and goals/objectives. The purpose of this project is to produce and build the current healthcare workforce to provide culturally competent care to the active and at-risk SUD population, including opioid users. The trainers will attend a SAMHSA-supported MAT train-the-trainer program and utilize SAMHSA materials to assemble asynchronous (i.e., at trainee convenience) online and live trainings. Year 1: Staff training and curriculum development will occur; the training program will be piloted with a pilot cohort, of 50 medical students, 50 nursing students, 10 faculty, and 10 preceptors. Year 2: The program will be introduced to other colleges, with180 medical students, 250 nursing students, 40 PA students, 50 Dental students, 50 faculty and 50 preceptors will be trained. Year 3: 180 medical students, 250 nursing students, 40 PA students, 50 Dental students, 50 faculty, 50 preceptors and 100 health professionals throughout SC will be trained. It is imperative to include faculty and community preceptors in training to institute the “train the trainer model” to ensure faculty and preceptors practice this critical public health intervention, role model to students, and understand the role of MAT.

For more information contact Dr. Smith at
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Nurse Faculty Loan Program

Sponsor/Type: HRSA
Project Period: 07/01/2013 – 06/30/2020
Gigi Smith, PhD, APRN, CPNP-PC

This application is a funding priority request for financial loan support for students enrolled in a Doctor of Philosophy in Nursing (PhD) degree program and the post-Master’s Doctorate of Nursing Practice Program (DNP) at the College of Nursing (CON), Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) with a career goal to serve as nurse faculty upon graduation. The CON DNP program is fully accredited by the Commission of Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) through June 30, 2026, and all MUSC programs were reaccredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACs) through 2027 (Attachment 1).

The objectives for this program are as follows:


1     Increase the number of graduate doctoral students in the post MSN-DNP, BSN-PhD and MSN-PhD programs who are prepared to become qualified nurse faculty upon program completion by ensuring:

a.   All students who received NFLP funding complete the three educational courses needed 

     for national certification as a nurse educator.

b.   Students who previously completed the three educational courses and are not certified as  

     nurse educators with at least one year of teaching experience are offered the mentored

     teaching course to gain doctoral level teaching experience.

2.     Processes and evaluation for the program will occur as follows:

a.      Recruitment and student orientation. Following receipt of funds from HRSA, an e-mail and CON electronic newsletter outlining the purpose, criteria and eligibility of the NFLP program is sent out to all PhD and post-MSN DNP students (July). Students are informed how the loan works, and required completion of the service agreement as full-time nursing faculty at an accredited school of nursing. Students then apply by completing a three-page application that includes a statement of commitment to complete the three required nurse educator courses prior to graduation. Students understand a new plan of study will be developed to reflect the change. Previous students will be given priority for funding. New applicants meeting criteria for the loan and completing an entrance interview will be considered on a first come first serve basis, with priority given to those from diverse or disadvantaged backgrounds. Students will be notified (August) and receive information about cancellation provisions, loan default and complete paperwork.

b.     Program requirements and monitoring. Once awarded NFLP loan funding, students’ plans of study will be rewritten with specific educator courses required and signed (August). The Office of Academics will track and register the students each semester with loan funding provided at that time (Fall 2019; Spring and Summer 2020). Students in the program will be asked to re-sign their commitment letters each funded academic year.

c.  Program completion, reports and post-graduation follow-up. Students will be followed at the end of each semester to ensure successful completion of the courses. Five students are scheduled to graduate from the 2018-19 NFLP funding period, and 5 from the 2019-20 funding period. Longitudinal data will include collection of teaching program level for each NFLP graduate completed by the coordinators of the DNP and PhD programs at 4-months post-graduation followed by annually for four years. Bi-annual reports for HRSA will be completed and submitted, (January and July) as required, by the Executive Associate Dean of Academics.


For more information contact Dr. Smith at
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CBT by Phone to Promote Use of Alcohol Related Care and Reduce Drinking
Sponsor: Sub. University of Rochester/NIH/NIAAA
Project Period: 09/01/2018 – 08/31/2022
Tracy Stecker, PhD

Numerous evidence-based treatments for alcohol use disorder (AUD) have been developed, and research shows that individuals who obtain alcohol specialty care have improved drinking outcomes and are more likely to recover, yet a small percentage of individuals with AUD obtain treatment. Use of Screening, Brief Intervention, and Referral to Treatment (SBIRT) interventions is a potential strategy to increase treatment seeking, yet there is little evidence that these interventions increase participation in alcohol-related care and a lack of evidence that such care serves as a mechanism for improved drinking outcomes. The current randomized controlled trial (RCT) of a one session intervention delivered by telephone seeks to address these gaps in evidence. The specific aims are to show that research volunteers ages 18 and older with AUD who are assigned to the intervention compared to an information control condition are more likely to initiate alcohol specialty care (aim 1), have decreased frequency of alcohol use (as measured by percent days abstinent) and intensity of alcohol use (as measured by drinks per drinking day) (aim 2), and that treatment engagement serves as a mediator of the improved drinking outcomes (aim 3). Innovations include the use of an SBIRT intervention based on the theory of planned behavior and cognitive behavioral treatment principles and that the intervention was developed for phone administration from the onset and was explicitly designed to promote treatment engagement. The project is in response to PA-15-299, Alcohol Use Disorders: Behavioral Treatment, Services, and Recovery Research. It builds on a smaller efficacy trial that showed that the intervention leads to increased engagement in alcohol-related care (Stecker et al., 2012) and extends that study in several ways including through the use of a priori tests to determine efficacy of the intervention to improve drinking outcomes and that treatment engagement serves as a mediator of the improved outcomes.

For more information about this trial, please contact Sandra Wilson at
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Increasing Treatment Seeking Among At-Risk Service Members Returning from Warzones
Sponsor: US Army/MOMRP
Project Period: 02/28/2013 – 01/31/2020
Tracy Stecker, PhD

Dr. Stecker was awarded a five year trial (W81XWH-13-2-0032) entitled Increasing Treatment Seeking Among At-Risk Service Members Returning from Warzones by the Department of Defense.  The goal of this research is to evaluate the effectiveness of the cognitive-behavioral intervention to increase behavioral health treatment seeking among military personnel at-risk for suicide.  Reducing suicide is a national priority and an urgent concern within the Department of Defense and the Department of Veterans Affairs. Indeed, rates of suicide among active duty service members and Veterans have increased dramatically since 2005, with an average of 20 Veterans completing suicide per day.  The vast majority of service members and Veterans at-risk for suicide do not seek help.

This is a randomized controlled clinical trial of 1,200 military service members who are at increased risk for suicide but not currently in behavioral health treatment for the purpose of determining if a brief intervention improves the initiation of treatment.  Participants assigned to the treatment condition receive an individualized cognitive-behavioral intervention administered by phone.  The intervention has been shown to promote treatment-seeking in preliminary studies of OEF/OIF Veterans with elevated posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms.  Participants are assessed at baseline and at 1-month, 3-month, 6-month, and 12-month follow-up. 

For more information about this trial, please contact Sandra Wilson at
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Smartphone Delivered Meditation for BP Control among Prehypertensives
Sponsor/Type: NIH/NHLBI - R01
Project Period: 06/01/2013 – 11/30/2019
Frank A. Treiber, PhD

Stage 2 pre essential hypertension (preEH; 130-139/<90 mmhg)="" entails="" a="" 3-fold="" risk="" of="" developing="" eh="" and="" 2-fold="" risk="" of="" cardiovascular="" disease="" (cvd)="" events="" compared="" to="" those="" with="" optimal="" blood="" pressure=""><120 0="" mmhg).="" prevention="" programs="" are="" needed="" which="" can="" be="" sustained="" by="" preehs="" and="" readily="" disseminated="" by="" healthcare="" providers.="" psychological="" stress="" is="" a="" risk="" factor="" for="" future="" eh="" and="" cvd.="" stress="" reduction="" via="" meditation="" has="" shown="" promise="" in="" reducing="" blood="" pressure="" (bp)="" but="" adult="" studies="" have="" not="" determined="" optimal="" dosage="" level="" nor="" evaluated="" dosage="" adherence="" objectively.="" multiple="" underlying="" biobehavioral="" mechanisms="" linking="" meditation="" with="" bp="" reduction="" also="" require="" additional="" scrutiny.="" the="" proposed="" research="" will="" address="" these="" issues="" by="" further="" developing="" and="" optimizing="" a="" smart="" phone="" breathing="" awareness="" meditation="" program="" (tension="" tamer:="" tt).="" stage="" 2="" preeh="" 21-50="" year="" old="" african="" americans="" and="" whites="" balanced="" by="" geographical="" locale="" (urban="" vs.="" rural)="" and="" healthcare="" providers="" from="" 12="" practice="" sites="" (6="" urban/6="" rural="" with="" 12,843="" stage="" 2="" preehs)="" within="" the="" oquin="" practice="" based="" research="" network="" will="" be="">
The 3 stage process of intervention development specified in PA-11-063 will involve:
1) Optimization of TT content and delivery formats guided by behavioral and technological theories using 6 focus groups of OQUIN healthcare providers and 6 focus groups with preEHs (8 preEHs per group);
2) 6 month TT proof of concept study (n=60 stage 2 preEHs) to establish dosage tolerability and impact upon resting and 24 hour SBP and biobehavioral mechanisms: worry, rumination, anxiety, hostility, mindfulness, sleep, physical activity, sympathetic nervous system (SNS) and hypothalamic pituitary adrenal axis (HPA) activity;
3) 12 month 2-arm randomized control trial (RCT; TT vs enhanced standard of care smart phone health education program; total n=80) to generate estimates needed for design of a large scale RCT. This series of iterative studies, implemented and guided by healthcare providers and their preEH patients, will result in an intervention acceptable to multiple racial/ethnic groups in both urban and rural settings, feasible to conduct in clinical practice settings, effective in reducing SBP in a pilot RCT and ready for a large scale RCT.


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Boosting Our Barrio: A Community Based Intervention to Improve School Preparedness for At-Risk ChildrenSponsor/Type: Duke Endowment
Project Period: 06/01/2016 – 05/30/2019
Amy A. Williams, PhD

Boosting Our Barrio is a care model focused on early childhood development, early intervention when necessary and access to culturally appropriate care that can decrease health care and school costs in the long term. This project will narrow the gap of health disparities within the Latino community by increased community engagement via use of the extant promotores model with PASOs, thus increasing sustainability and maximizing use of current supports and trusted agencies.

For more information contact Dr. Williams at
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