The Center for Health Trajectory Research, an exploratory research center, was funded by a 6-year grant (2005-2011; P20-NR008992) of $1.5 million from the National Institute of Nursing Research to support the development of nursing intervention science focused on interventions that promote, maintain, and restore health over time across the life-span. The goal was to test the feasibility of interventions and understand the mechanisms by which they influence the health trajectories experienced by individuals, families, groups, or communities with developmental, acute, or chronic health challenges. The health trajectory perspective advances nursing science by using a person-centered point of view to translate findings to improve individual patient care. The broad focus of the Center, which has applicability across all areas of nursing science, is unique among all Center grants funded by the National Institute of Nursing Research.
The overall goal of the Center was to advance knowledge related to promoting trajectories of optimal health and quality of life across the life-span of individuals and families. Specific aims were as follows:
- Build capacity of scientists in nursing and other health disciplines who can conduct research related to interventions that promote positive health outcomes of individuals and families experiencing developmental, acute, or chronic health challenges
- Support the development and pilot testing of research protocols that will lead to applications for extramural support of larger intervention studies designed to improve health trajectories of individuals, families, or both across the life-span
- Strengthen collaboration among scientists in nursing and other healthcare disciplines for conducting intervention and other health trajectory research
- Disseminate research findings to the scientific community, undergraduate and graduate students, nurses and other healthcare providers, policy makers, consumers, and other relevant lay audiences
A major focus of the Center's activities was to sponsor research seminars led by nursing and interdisciplinary researchers including visiting scholars who could educate faculty investigators on longitudinal research methods that focus on intraindividual analyses and research design and methods issues associated with conducting pilot studies and intervention research. Several of the digitally recorded seminars are available through the University of Minnesota's iTunes U page at http://nursing.umn.edu/itunesu. The scientific theme of health trajectories was prominently featured throughout all school research events and is a continuing focus in PhD courses, and expertise in health trajectory research is a key factor in faculty recruitment decisions.
Over the course of the 6-year grant period, 16 one-year pilot grants were funded involving nursing and interdisciplinary investigators. The study populations ranged from infants and school-aged children to older adults. Developmental health trajectories and health trajectories during acute and chronic illness were studied. The pilot projects assessed a variety of interventions including music intervention for anxiety during the course of mechanical ventilation in patients in intensive care units, acupuncture for prevention and treatment of atrial fibrillation after coronary artery bypass surgery, a Web-based program on pain management for school-aged children with cancer, a school-based program for improving mental health outcomes in Latina adolescents, exercise interventions for gestational diabetes and wound healing in diabetic end-stage renal disease, and skin-to-skin contact intervention for infants with congenital heart defects. Other projects examined the feasibility of recruitment strategies for implementing intervention studies with persons with dementia and their caregivers or testing a tea tree oil for treatment of wounds with bacterial infections. Some projects examined the determinants of health trajectories to prepare for larger grant applications. These included projects such as the development of correlates of quality of life for children with a genetic deficit known as velo-cardio-facial syndrome, modeling psychological functioning in refugee populations who were victims of trauma or torture, and examination of public health nursing intervention patterns for high risk mothers and infants.
The projects funded by the Center for Health Trajectory Research by their funding period and principal and coprincipal investigators are listed in Table 1. Members of the Center's Executive Committee are identified in Table 2.
Jean F. Wyman, PhD, RN, FAAN
Professor and Cora Meidl Siehl Chair
in Nursing Research
School of Nursing
University of Minnesota
Funded in part by the National Institute of Nursing Research (Grant No. P20 NR008992; Center for Health Trajectory Research).
The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institute of Nursing Research or the National Institutes of Health.© 2011 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.