Infants exposed to domestic violence have poorer cognitive development

September 17, 2021
Story Contact: Brian Consiglio, 573-882-9144, 

Original Post from ShowMeMizzou Here

MU study explores impact of multiple father figures on infant neurodevelopmental delays.

COLUMBIA, Mo. – While assessing a pregnant woman with premature labor in 1983, Linda Bullock noticed bruises on the woman. When she asked what happened, the woman told Bullock a refrigerator had fallen on her while cleaning the kitchen.  

“Something didn’t seem right, but I didn’t know what to say at the time. I just went on to the next question of the assessment,” said Bullock, now a professor emerita at the University of Missouri Sinclair School of Nursing. “We stopped her labor and sent her home, but I will bet my last dollar I sent her back to an abusive relationship, and it sparked my interest in helping other nurses assist battered women. What we didn’t know at the time was the impact violence had on the baby.” 

Bullock helped implement the Domestic Violence Enhanced Perinatal Home Visits (DOVE) program in rural Missouri, which empowered safety planning and reduced domestic violence for hundreds of abused pregnant women. After learning from home health visits that many of the abused women had up to nine different romantic partners during and following pregnancy, Bullock conducted a study to examine the impact of multiple father figures on the cognitive development of the newborn infants.  

After administering neurodevelopmental tests during home visits three, six and 12 months after birth, she was surprised to find the infants of women who had only one male partner who abused them had worse cognitive outcomes compared to infants of women with multiple male partners, only some of whom were abusive.

This is a photo of Linda Bullock.

Linda Bullock is a professor emerita at the University of Missouri Sinclair School of Nursing.

“The findings highlight the variety of ways the multiple father figures may have been helping the mom support her baby, whether it was providing food, housing, childcare or financial benefits,” Bullock said. “For the women with only one partner who abused them, the infant’s father, the father may not have provided any physical or financial support or played an active role in the child’s life. It can be difficult for busy, single moms struggling to make ends meet to provide the toys and stimulation their infants need to reach crucial developmental milestones.” 

Bullock added that infants coming from homes with domestic violence often go on to have worse academic outcomes in school due to neurodevelopmental lags and a higher risk for a variety of health issues, including gastrointestinal distress, trouble eating and sleeping, as well as stress and illness.  

“When nurses are visiting homes to check in on pregnant women and their developing babies, we want them to be trained in recognizing the warning signs of potential intimate partner violence,” Bullock said. “I still think back to 1983 when I sent that lady back home into a terrible situation, and I am passionate about making sure I can help nurses today not make the same mistake I made.” 

“Children exposed to intimate partner violence: Impact of multiple father figures” was recently published in Maternal Child Health Journal. Funding for the study was provided by the National Institutes of Nursing Research. The study involved collaborators from Johns Hopkins University and University of Virginia.  


Sinclair School of Nursing Announces Call for PFFFD Postdoctoral Program Applications


Preparing Future Faculty – Faculty Diversity Postdoctoral Program at University of Missouri

Applications will be due September 27, 2021.  


Program Overview
The Preparing Future Faculty – Faculty Diversity (PFFFD) Postdoctoral Program is designed to promote faculty diversity by developing scholars for tenure-track faculty positions at the University of Missouri or elsewhere. The PFFFD program is a unique opportunity for emerging scholars. PFFFD postdocs participate in professional development activities that integrate and expose them to the faculty experience.

Applicants should demonstrate how they can contribute to faculty diversity, such as through membership in a group that is historically underrepresented or through other experience and training. Postdoctoral positions are typically for two years and provide research, teaching, and professional development opportunities. The stipend is $56,000 per year plus University benefits and professional development funds. To be eligible for this program, applicants must have completed their doctoral degree, or expect to complete their degree no later than July 1, 2022.

Sinclair School of Nursing 
Seeking a scholar whose interests align with the campus’ NextGen Precision Health Initiative; preference for a scholar who complements our strengths in cancer/oncology research, healthcare delivery research, aging/gerontological research, and/or population health research, especially as related to informatics. 

For more information about the PFFFD Postdoctoral program and how to apply click here 

Email Dr. Behm-Morawitz (Associate Dean of the Graduate School) at if you have any questions about the PFFFD postdoctoral program.


Pictured: Nursing PFFFD Postdoctoral fellow Yang Li, PhD (right) is pictured with Dean Sarah Thompson (left). Yang’s winning abstract was entitled “Exploring the Optimal Allostatic Load Scoring Method in Women of Reproductive Age”.


Missouri nursing homes saved $32 million by reducing avoidable hospitalizations


August 17, 2021
Story contact: Brian Consiglio, 573-882-9144, 

Original post by Show Me Mizzou, shared Here 

MU study examines financial, clinical benefits of early illness detection.

Detecting illness early among nursing home residents not only improves patient health outcomes, but also reduces avoidable hospitalizations and saves the facilities money, according to a new study at the University of Missouri.

Marilyn Rantz, a Curator’s professor emerita at the MU Sinclair School of Nursing, analyzed six years of financial data for 11 Missouri nursing homes that are part of the Missouri Quality Improvement Initiative, a program that implemented advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs) full time into nursing homes throughout the greater St. Louis area. By reducing avoidable hospitalizations, the nursing homes recaptured more than $32 million in revenue, which helped them retain their staff and allow the residents to remain in the nursing homes while receiving treatment.

“Early illness recognition is key to identifying clinical problems before they become much worse, and the advanced practice registered nurses played a big role in helping the staff make the proper assessments,” Rantz said. “Whether it’s pneumonia, the flu or a urinary tract infection, If the care providers are letting patients’ health decline to the point where you have no choice but to transfer them to the hospital, you let the problem go way too long.”

Rantz explained that nearly all clinical signs of an unstable condition can benefit from hydration, and treating patients within the nursing home helps avoid the stress and confusion that often results when older adults are transported to the hospital.

“Keeping the residents moving every day and ensuring they are drinking enough fluids and eating nutritious foods are simple, yet often overlooked strategies that really make a difference,” Rantz said. “The residents are much more comfortable being cared for in the nursing home where they are familiar with the staff, and our research shows reducing avoidable hospitalizations saves nursing homes millions in the long run.”

In addition to improving the quality of care in nursing homes, Rantz found the implementation of advanced practice registered nurses, who either have a doctoral or master’s degree in nursing, can help improve staff skills in care delivery and reduce staff turnover, which has been an ongoing issue for nursing home administrators, particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic.

This is a picture of Marilyn Rantz.

Marilyn Rantz is a Curators’ professor emerita at the University of Missouri’s Sinclair School of Nursing.

“We found the more support you give the nursing staff, the greater the impact on reducing staff burnout and turnover,” Rantz said. “Staffing is the number one cost for nursing homes, and we found the recaptured revenue from reducing avoidable hospitalizations helps pay and retain staff who are well educated and skilled at their job.”

Rantz has dedicated her career to improving the quality of care older adults receive in nursing homes, and last year she saw firsthand the functional decline that can result from illness when an older family member was hospitalized with COVID-19.

“Today, she is still not as functionally strong and active as she was nine months ago when she was originally diagnosed,” Rantz said. “It has been a long haul, but she is fortunate, as some older adults never regain their full function after a hospitalization. I am grateful for the opportunity to help those in need and I have dedicated my life to improving the quality of care in nursing homes.”

“Financial and workflow benefits of reducing avoidable hospitalizations of nursing home residents” was recently published in the Journal of Nutrition, Health and Aging.

Chelsea Howland selected as 40 Under 40 Emerging Nurse Leader Award recipient

July 27, 2021

Posted from Show Me Mizzou Accolades Here


Chelsea Howland, a PhD candidate in the Sinclair School of Nursing was recently selected as a 40 under 40 Emerging Nurse Leader Award recipient by the Illinois Nurses Foundation. The award recognizes 40 registered nurses from Illinois who are younger than 40 who are positively impacting health care and the nursing profession.

The peer-nominated award recognizes Illinois nurses who demonstrate exemplary professional practice along with community engagement and/or advocacy on behalf of the profession and those we serve. Howland will receive her award at a ceremony in September.

Spirituality can promote the health of breast cancer survivors

MU study finds link between forgiveness, congregational support and neuroimmune biomarkers.

June 23, 2021
Story contact: Brian Consiglio, 573-882-9144,

Throughout her 20-year career as a nurse practitioner, Jennifer Hulett noticed survivors of breast cancer would often express gratitude for being alive and mention God or a divine acknowledgement that had improved their health and well-being.

Now an assistant professor at the University of Missouri Sinclair School of Nursing, Hulett is researching the benefits of spirituality on improving immune health and reducing stress, as well as the chances of cancer reoccurrence, among breast cancer survivors.

In a recent study, Hulett collected and froze samples of saliva from 41 breast cancer survivors at MU’s Ellis Fischel Cancer Center. She identified breast cancer survivors’ reports of practicing forgiveness and receiving positive social support from their congregation or other social support network were linked with two specific biomarkers, alpha-amylase and interleukin-6. The findings lay the foundation for further examining the role spirituality plays in the health and well-being of both cancer survivors and individuals managing chronic disease.

“Breast cancer survivors are often a highly spiritual group given the trauma they have been through, and we found they often have more positive spiritual beliefs in a loving God or higher power rather than a punitive, punishing God,” Hulett said. “This confirmed what I had previously experienced anecdotally as a nurse. Breast cancer survivors would often express gratitude and contribute their health and well-being to a higher power, and they tended to have better health outcomes as well.”

Hulett’s research builds off previous findings indicating positive spiritual beliefs are associated with healthier levels of cortisol, a biomarker commonly associated with stress, among breast cancer survivors.

“Cortisol and stress suggest chronic inflammation, and anything we can do to lower levels of stress and inflammation will have a good effect on a patient’s longevity, health outcomes and reduced risk of reoccurring disease,” Hulett said. “We often hear about diet and exercise in promoting physical health, but we rarely hear about the importance of managing stress, and all three are connected with well-being.”

One in eight women develop breast cancer at some point in their lives, and previous studies show chronic stress in breast cancer survivors is linked with increased inflammation and risk for cancer reoccurrence.

This is a photo of Jennifer Hulett.

Jennifer Hulett is an assistant professor
at the MU Sinclair School of Nursing.

“We know cortisol is linked with stress, and elevated levels of the immune biomarker interleukin 6 suggests inflammation,” Hulett said. “By first finding out which biomarkers are meaningful to look at, we can then see how they are potentially influenced by various spiritual or mindfulness practices aimed at reducing inflammation.”

Hulett’s research sets the foundation for future research that evaluates the effectiveness of spiritual and mindfulness interventions, including daily prayer, mediation, yoga and relaxation, on health outcomes among cancer survivors and individuals with chronic disease.

“We already know these interventions improve mental health, but they might also improve physical health as well, and we can try to prove it by looking at these physiological biomarkers,” Hulett said. “These spiritual interventions are what nurses can use at the bedside to quickly implement if they see patients struggling to cope with their illness. Any evidence-based solutions we can equip nurses with will help improve patient health outcomes, and that is where these mind-body interventions can play a role going forward.”

“Associations between religious and spiritual variables and neuroimmune activity in survivors of breast cancer: a feasibility study” was recently published in Supportive Care in Cancer. Funding for the study was provided by the National Institute of Nursing Research and the Ellis Fischel Cancer Center Donor Fund.

Original story found here

Spirituality can promote the health of breast cancer survivors