COVID-19 & Nurse Scientists on the Front Line: Kelly L. Wierenga

Kelly L Wierenga
Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis

Please describe your work with the COVID-19 pandemic.
I am currently a PI on a behavioral health study. The purpose of this study is to understand the influence of the COVID-19 infection on people during a time of increased social distancing and prevention measures.

Please give us information about your background and history as a nurse scientist.
My program of research focuses on improving recovery and secondary prevention. My research interests lie in how improving abilities to adaptively regulate emotions during a stressful period of recovery can improve symptoms of depression and anxiety. These improvements in psychological symptoms paired with traditional recovery and treatment programs may increase the uptake and sustaining of healthy behaviors long-term. I have developed a treatment using mechanisms of emotion regulation to support recovery and improves weekly physical activity in the cardiovascular rehabilitation population. This treatment has demonstrated early efficacy in a small pilot sample and was recently refined by my team for testing in rural populations with remote access.

What else would you like the public to know about your role or the role of nurse scientists in the fight against COVID-19?
As nurse scientists we provide unique perspective and experience in ameliorating symptom burden and improving health outcomes. This can take many forms in the current fight against COVID-19. Nurse scientists can help develop knowledge and understanding on both the direct and indirect physical, emotional, social, and spiritual impact on individuals, families, systems and more.

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