Johnson receives Society of Pediatric Nurses grant for dissertation work

UAB SON PhD Student Ann Johnson, MSN, RN, CPNP was awarded the 2014 Society of Pediatric Nurses Corrine Barnes Research Grant for her dissertation work entitled "The Effects of Perceived Stress, Sleep, and Cortisol on Fatigue in 8-12 Year Old Central Nervous System Cancer Survivors". 

As a pediatric nurse practitioner in neuro-oncology, Ms. Johnson was very familiar with the impact that symptoms such as fatigue, caused by poor sleep and stress, have on the quality of life of survivors of childhood cancer, particularly central nervous system cancer (CNS) cancer. 

Poor sleep quality due to frequent awakenings, other indicators of sleep quality, and daily stress can  have negative effects on health outcomes.  Ms. Johnson hopes to determine the influence that perceived stress and sleep disturbances have on cancer related fatigue (CRF) in CNS cancer survivors ages 8-12 through both self-reporting and objective measures. 

Perceived stress will be measured through a questionnaire asking children to rate their feelings in a variety of situations such as school performance or following personal/home/family changes.  Ms. Johnson will be measuring sleep disturbances though the use of a sleep actigraph which will measure sleep patterns and circadian rhythms.  Additionally, Ms. Johnson will explore the mediating effect of stress response (as measured by salivary cortisol) on the relationship between perceived stress and CRF as well as the relationship between sleep/wake disturbance and CRF.  Specifically, she will be focusing on these symptoms in children during the first ten years following treatment.

Ms. Johnson hopes the findings of her investigation will lead to development of interventions that will help children with CNS cancer experience better health outcomes and improved quality of life.

Future directions of Ms. Johnson’s research may involve looking at correlations of cancer related fatigue with BMI; the inclusion of additional biomarkers for sleep/wake disturbance; additional age groups of survivors; and possibly perceived stress of survivors' parents.

Ms. Johnson’s dissertation committee chair is Marti Rice, PhD, RN, FAAN. In addition to Dr. Rice, Johnson is collaborating with, Kristin Avis, PhD from Children's Hospital of Alabama, and Alyssa Reddy, MD from the UAB School of Medicine. Other committee memebers on Ms. Johnson's dissertation are; Anne Turner Henson, PhD, RN, FAAN, Andres Azuero, PhD, MBA, and Joan Haase PhD, RN, FAAN.

Prior to the receiving the Society of Pediatric Nurses award, Ms. John completed a feasibility pilot study in the fall of 2013 and presented her findings during a poster session at the Southern Nursing Research Society annual meeting in February 2014.

Ms. Johnson plans on proposing her dissertation in the summer of 2014.  Since enrolling in the UAB SON PhD program in 2009, Ms. Johnson has been a Leadership in Child Health Education in Nursing fellow.  She is also an assistant clinical professor at Texas Woman's University College of Nursing in Dallas, TX.

Recently, Ms. Johnson also received an Ireland Research Travel Award from the UAB Graduate School. This award is funded by an endowment established at UAB by Caroline Ireland and the late Charles W. Ireland, and by new resources allocated to the Graduate School from the Provost’s office.