Nursing Research

Our world-class faculty research interests span health and illness across the life span in a wide array of healthcare delivery settings-including the home and community.


The School of Nursing at the Bouvé College of Health Sciences has received a five-​​year, $1.5 mil­lion grant from the National Insti­tutes of Health to estab­lish a new center designed to advance nursing sci­en­tists’ research and effec­tive tech­nology inter­ven­tions for improving self-​​care and self-​​management for America’s older adults.

The grant, from the NIH’s National Insti­tute of Nursing Research, pro­vides the sup­port to launch the North­eastern Center for Tech­nology in Sup­port of Self Man­age­ment and Health, also known as NUCare, at the School of Nursing. The center is also closely aligned with the Col­lege of Com­puter and Infor­ma­tion Sci­ence.


Faculty Cameos

Select cameos highlighting faculty scholarly achievements in both research and practice

Deborah D’Avolio

Deborah D’Avolio, PhD, BC-ACNP, ANP

Deborah D’Avolio’s research and career have been dedicated to improving the health of older adults through research, education, practice, and policy. She is an Associate Professor in the School of Nursing and teaches in the doctoral and master’s programs. Dr. D’Avolio has a strong background in Gerontological Research and has received post-doctoral research training through a two year, John A. Hartford Foundation postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Pennsylvania. Her program of research is focused on the unmet healthcare needs of diverse, inner city older adults and includes access to care, geriatric syndromes, and translational research. Additionally, she holds an appointment as a Nurse Scientist at the Yvonne L. Munn Center for Nursing Research, Massachusetts General Hospital.

Dr. D’Avolio’s leadership in geriatric nursing has provided her with international recognition. She has received several awards, including 2014 Distinguished Scholar & Fellow in the National Academies of Practice and the Sigma Theta Tau International Award for Geriatric Nursing Leadership in 2011. She is the Project Director/Principal Investigator of the first HRSA Interprofessional Geriatric Grant at Northeastern University, Interprofessional Geriatric Education for Team Based Care. Dr. D’Avolio is leading the development and implementation of Northeastern University’s Interprofessional Graduate Certificate in Healthy Aging. Dr. D’Avolio has been involved in policy development to improve the care of older adults at the local and national level. Dr. D’Avolio is a Peer Reviewer for the Journal of Clinical Nursing Research and the Journal of Transcultural Nursing. She has recently been appointed as Chair- Elect of the Gerontological Society of America’s (GSA) Health Sciences Education Committee. The GSA is the nation’s largest interdisciplinary organization devoted to aging research. She holds a BSN from Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Allied Health Sciences, MSN in Acute and Adult Care (ACNP, ANP) from Northeastern University, and a PhD from Boston College.

Select recent publications are: D’Avolio, D., Strumpf, N., Feldman, J., Mitchell, P., Rebholz, C. (2013). Barriers to Primary Care: Perceptions of Older Adults Utilizing the ED for Non-urgent Visits. Clinical Nursing Research, 22, (4), 416-431; Enderlin, C. A., McLeskey, N., Rooker, J. L., Steinhauser, C., D’Avolio, D., Gusewelle, R., & Ennen, K. A. (2013). Review of current conceptual models and frameworks to guide transitions of care in older adults. Geriatric Nursing, 34(1), 47-52;D’Avolio, D., Heike, M.E., Burke, D., Gallivan, T., (November, 2011). The Plus of 65plus; Nursing Management, 32- 37; D’Avolio, D., Feldman, J., Mitchell, P. & Strumpf, N., (2008). Access to Care and Health Related Quality of Life Among Older Adults with Non-urgent Emergency Department Visits. Geriatric Nursing, 29 (4), 240-246.

Maria C. Dolce

Maria C. Dolce, Ph.D., R.N., CNE, FACHE

Dr. Maria Dolce is Associate Professor at the School of Nursing, Bouvé College of Health Sciences at Northeastern University. She is also Co- Director of Interprofessional Education for Bouvé College of Health Sciences. Prior to her appointment at Northeastern University, she was Clinical Assistant Professor and Coordinator for nursing education graduate programs at New York University College of Nursing, where she also served as Program Director of a national initiative, Oral Health Nursing Education and Practice. From 1989-2009, she was a nurse administrator at several healthcare systems including New York-Presbyterian Hospital Weill Cornell Medical Center, Lifespan Health System, New York City Health and Hospitals Corporation-Bellevue Hospital Center, and North Shore-Long Island Jewish Health System. She holds an appointment as Faculty Nurse Scientist at The Yvonne L. Munn Center for Nursing Research, The Massachusetts General Hospital.

Dr. Dolce is a Certified Nurse Educator and expert in interprofessional education. In addition to her faculty role at Northeastern University, she is the Principal Investigator and Executive Director of Innovations in Interprofessional Oral Health: Technology, Instruction, Practice, Service, a three-year project funded by the DentaQuest Foundation. The goal of this research is to develop a replicable, scalable, and sustainable model for integration of oral health into interdisciplinary health sciences curricula and team-based, collaborative practice approaches in primary care settings. Dr. Dolce is evaluating the effectiveness of interprofessional education methods on team-based competencies to improve oral and systemic health. Her recent publications include: Dolce, M. C., Aghazadeh-Sanai, N., Mohammed, S., & Fulmer, T. (in press). Integrating oral health in the interdisciplinary health sciences curriculum. Dental Clinics of North America; Dolce, M. C. (2014). Integrating oral health into professional nursing practice: An interprofessional faculty tool kit. Journal of Professional Nursing, 30, 63–71. Dolce, M. C., Haber, J., & Shelley, D. (2012). Oral health nursing education and practice program. Nursing Research and Practice, 2012, 1-5; Dolce, M. C. (2012). Nurse faculty enrichment and competency development in oral-systemic health. Nursing Research and Practice, 2012, 1-5.

Dr. Dolce is the first nurse to serve on the interdisciplinary Steering Committee of Smiles for Life: A National Oral Health Curriculum. She also serves as member of the Scientific Advisory Board of the National Children’s Oral Health Foundation, and DentaQuest Foundation’s Northeast Regional Oral Health Connection Team. Maria is a manuscript reviewer for the journal, Nursing Research and Practice, and Journal of Dental Education. She is a Fellow in the American College of Healthcare Executives, and a member in several professional organizations including Sigma Theta Tau International Honor Society of Nursing, American Nurses Association, American Public Health Association, Eastern Nursing Research Society, and American Organization of Nurse Executives. She earned her B.S., M.A., and Ph.D. degrees in nursing from New York University.

Elizabeth Howard

Elizabeth P. Howard, PhD, MSN, BSN

Currently, Dr. Howard holds a joint appointment with Northeastern University, Bouve College of Health Sciences, School of Nursing and the Institute for Aging Research, Hebrew Senior-Life. In previous years, she conducted several small pilot projects testing interventions to improve the cardiovascular health status of older adult women, living in the community building on her in-patient nursing experience with cardiac patients. Since her joint appointment at IFAR, her area of research has expanded to examine health care interventions for maintaining the health, well-being, and quality of life among older adults living in the community. Through the IFAR affiliation, she has worked with senior scientists to examine interRAI and COLLAGE assessment data and plan health care interventions addressing unmet needs among older adult populations.

Select recent publications are:

Strout, K., & Howard, E. P. (2014). Application of the Rasch Model to Measure Five Dimensions of Wellness in Community Dwelling Older Adults. Journal of Nursing Measurement. 22 (2): 268-290. http://

Strout, K. & Howard, E.P. (2014). Five dimensions of wellness and predictors of cognitive health protection in community-dwelling older adults. A historical COLLAGE cohort study. Journal of Holistic Nursing, 27 June 2014, doi:10.1177/0898010114540322.

Morris, J.N., Howard, E.P., Fries, B.E., Berkowitz, R., Goldman, B., David, D. (2014) Using the community health assessment to screen for continued driving. Accident Analysis and Prevention, Feb: 63:104-119. doi: 10.1016/j.aap.2013.10.030. Epub 2013 Nov 2.

Morris, J., Berg, K., Fries, B., Steel, K., Howard, E. (2013). Scaling Functional Status Within the internal Suite of Assessment instruments. BMC: Geriatrics, Volume 13, November 2013, doi:10.1186/1471-2318-13-128.

Morris, J.N, Howard, E.P., Steel, K., Schreiber, R., Fries, B.E., Lipsitz, L.A., Goldman, B.(2014). Predicting risk of hospital and emergency department use for community based elderly persons through a secondary analysis of cross-national data. BMC Health Services Research. Accepted for publication with revisions.

Strout, K. & Howard, E.P., (2012). The six dimensions of wellness and cognition in aging adults. Journal of Holistic Nursing, 30(3), 195-204. doi:10.1177/0898010112440883.

Howard, E., Rickles, N., Nannini, A., Harvey, R., O’Neil-Pirozzi, T., Kirwin, J., Lowe, S. (2009). Establishing an Interdisciplinary Geriatric Education Center.

Howard, E., (2009). Nurses: Vital in Preventing and Managing Delirium in Critically Ill Patients. Advance for Nurses

Devlin, J., Fong, J., Howard, E., Skrobik, Y., McCoy, N., Yasuda, C., Marshall, J. (2008). Nursing Practices and Perceptions Towards Delirium Assessment in the Intensive Care Unit. American Journal of Critical Care, 17(6), 555-565.

Rachel Jones

Rachel Jones, PhD, MS, BSN, FAAN

Dr. Rachel Jones was the principal investigator on two National Institute on Nursing Research funded grants that focused on HIV prevention in urban women and use of smartphones to deliver soap opera videos to reduce HIV risk; and one from the National Library of Medicine to tailor HIV prevention video feedback. She is an Associate Professor at Northeastern University, School of Nursing and a Faculty Scholar at the Institute on Urban Health Research and Practice. Her primary scientific interests are reducing women’s HIV risk through innovative methods and theories. Dr Jones is a fellow in the American Academy of Nursing.

Dr. Jones’ formative research had indicated that unprotected sex serves relationship promoting needs in young adult urban women. In the genre of Entertainment-Education, she and her team scripted and filmed a 12-episode soap opera video series, Love, Sex, and Choices, as an intervention to reduce HIV risk behavior. This intervention was tested in a randomized controlled trial. Interviews were conducted using audio computer assisted self-interview (ACASI). The soap opera episodes were streamed weekly to smartphones opening-up a new channel to address health disparities. This work is published in several peer reviewed journals. Dr. Jones is an ad hoc reviewer for an NIH Special Emphasis Panel (Behavioral and Social Consequences of HIV/AIDS) Study Section. She has received several awards, including 2013 recipient of the Association of Nurses in AIDS Care Excellence in HIV Prevention Award, 2012 Presenter of Distinction by the Congress for the Advancement of Nursing Science, membership as a Fellow in the American Academy of Nursing (2010), Lester Z. Lieberman Humanism in Healthcare Award from the Healthcare Foundation of NJ (2010); Esteemed Woman in the Field of Women and HIV/AIDS from Women and AIDS (NJWAN) (2009), and the New York Times Nurse Educator of the Year (2007). She holds a BSN from Case Western Reserve University, MS in family primary care (FNP) from Pace University, and PhD from New York University.

Select recent publications are: Jones,R. Hoover, D.R., Lacroix, L.J. (2013). A Randomized Controlled Trial of Soap Opera Videos Streamed to Smartphones to Reduce HIV Sex Risk in Young Urban African American Women, Nursing Outlook; Jones, R.& Lacroix, L.J. (2012). Using Smartphones to View Weekly Soap Opera Videos in a Randomized Controlled Trial to Reduce HIV Risk in Young Adult, Urban African American/Black Women, AIDS & Behavior, 16, 1341–1358.;Jones, R. (2012). Handheld computers to run ACASI to assess HIV risk and deliver tailored soap opera video feedback: Acceptability among young adult urban women. Journal of the Association of Nurses in AIDS Care, 23 (3).260-267; Jones, R. & Gulick, E. (2009).The Sexual Pressure Scale for Women-Revised. Research in Nursing and Health. 32, 71–85.

Ann Polcari

Ann Polcari, Ph.D., PMHCNS-BS

Dr. Polcari’s research and career focuses on developmental risks and protective factors that contribute to anxiety, depression and behavioral health problems in children, adolescents and young adults, particularly related to parenting influences that prevent or promote recovery from childhood stress and adversity. She is an Advance Practice Board Certified Clinical Nurse Specialist for adult and child/adolescent psychiatric mental health specialties. Dr. Polcari directs the Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner Program, and leads the Advanced Nursing Education HRSA grant with the goal of educating APRNs to provide and promote culturally competent care to vulnerable children, adults and older adults, and their families with acute and chronic mental illness.

Dr. Polcari has maintained a long-term affiliation with a multidisciplinary team of allied professionals at McLean Hospital and has contributed to the growing body of knowledge that early abuse exerts persistent deleterious effects on brain development. Recently, she has proposed an intervention to modify cognitive consequences of early emotional stress that lead to later mental health risks.

Selected recent publications: include Polcari, A., Rabi, K, Bolger, E, and Teicher, M. H. (2014) Parental Verbal Affection and Verbal Aggression in Childhood Differentially Influence Psychiatric Symptoms and Wellbeing in Young Adulthood. Child Abuse & Neglect 38 (2014) 91–102; Teicher, M. H., Anderson, C. M., Ohashi, K. & Polcari, A. (2014). Childhood Maltreatment: Altered Network Centrality of Cingulate, Precuneus, Temporal Pole and Insula. Biological Psychiatry (In press); Tomoda, A., Polcari, A., Anderson, C. M., & Teicher, M. H. (2012). Reduced visual cortex gray matter volume and thickness in young adults who witnessed domestic violence during childhood. PLoS One, 7(12), e52528; Sheu YS, Polcari A, Anderson CM, Teicher MH. Harsh corporal punishment is associated with increased T2 relaxation time in dopamine-rich regions. Neuroimage. 2010 Nov 1;53(2):412-9; and Teicher MH, Samson JA, Sheu YS, Polcari A, McGreenery CE. Hurtful words: association of exposure to peer verbal abuse with elevated psychiatric symptom scores and corpus callosum abnormalities. Am J Psychiatry. 2010 Dec;167(12):1464-71.