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Three Nursing Faculty Receive Grant to Study Effect of Intervention to Counter Workplace Incivility

Janet Willhaus, assistant professor in the School of Nursing, Cindy Clark, professor in the School of Nursing, and Suzan Kardong-Edgren, Joanna “Jody” DeMeyer Endowed Chair in Nursing, received a $5,000 grant from Sigma Theta Tau International, honor society of nursing, to conduct a study titled “A Brief Intervention to Counter Workplace Incivility: Capturing Biomarker Data, Psychological Stress and Effects on Safe Patient Care.” This innovative and first of its kind study brings three nursing scholars together whose expertise include use of stress biomarkers, simulation, and civility in the workplace to develop sound and sharable evidence for the potential damage incivility can have on patient care.

This intervention study uses a lab-simulated experience to explore how emotional stress caused by an uncivil encounter in the healthcare workplace impacts a nurse’s work performance and patient safety. Prior to the simulation, the research participants will learn about workplace incivility and practice using a prepared verbal response to defuse the effects of stress caused by uncivil encounters. At strategic points throughout the simulated experience, the researchers will measure the effects of stress on the participant (nurse) using biomarkers found in saliva, heart rate, and self-assessment scales to determine whether the prepared verbal response was effective in countering the stress effects of the uncivil encounter. The researchers will also be looking for any mistakes in patient care that might have been made as a result of the stress caused by uncivil behavior.

“We are thrilled to have been selected for funding since these grants are highly competitive and the number of proposals selected for support are quite small,” said Willhaus. Sigma Theta Tau reports that for every grant awarded, three go unfunded.