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Posted 11.14.05

Former MU Nursing Student Receives Research Dissertation Award

Program Created for Dissertation Receives International Award for Nursing Excellence

COLUMBIA, MO -- Six weeks after major knee replacement surgery, patients surrounded by emotional support were feeling better and more mobile than patients who lacked the motivation to recover. This was the outcome of a new program created by a University of Missouri-Columbia doctoral student in the Sinclair School of Nursing. Now, her research is being honored internationally for contributing to nursing excellence.

Osteoarthritis, a major problem for older adults, commonly results in varying levels of disability. Total knee replacement often is the treatment of choice when conservative management fails to restore mobility and control pain. However, recovery from this major surgery can be a laborious task.

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Teeranut Harnirattisai's study examined the effects of a Behavioral Change Intervention (BCI) on the patient's self-efficacy, outcome expectation, physical activity participation and physical performance. The experimental group received a BCI in addition to the usual care given by hospital nursing staff. The six week program consisted of nurse-patient interaction, goal setting, education about the benefits of exercise and physical activity, and motivation from family members.

The intervention immediately following the knee replacement surgery encouraged the patients and bolstered their confidence, according to Harnirattisai. These patients experienced greater mobility, improved physical performance, and less pain.

"The people who went through the program understood the importance of exercise and self-monitoring. They understood that participating in physical activity would lead to less pain and more mobility day by day," Harnirattisai said. "The other group was afraid of the pain and didn't see the benefits of exercise because of lack of proper motivation. At the end of six weeks, they were in more pain and less mobile than before because of muscle weakness and joint stiffness."

The research has been published in Nursing Research and has been accepted for publication in Rehabilitation Nursing. Her work also has been presented internationally.

"I am proud of my work and am glad to be able to make a significant contribution to older adults," said Harnirattisai, who is now an assistant professor of nursing at Thammasat University in Thailand. "My professors at MU gave me the confidence to be a scholar and this is a great honor for me and them. I would like to thank to Dr. Rebecca A. Johnson, my advisor at the Sinclair School of Nursing, University of Missouri-Columbia for her encouragement, guidance and contribution to my study."

Harnirattisai will receive the Research Dissertation Award this week at the Honor Society of Nursing, Sigma Theta Tau International 38th Biennial Convention in Indianapolis, Indiana. The award recognizes a nurse whose doctoral dissertation is exceptionally meritorious and exemplifies high standards of scholarship and knowledge development.



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