CHHS Faculty Lead Research Related to COVID-19 and Social Distancing

Thursday, April 23, 2020

Faculty and staff members in the UNCW College of Health and Human Services are conducting research related to the impact of the COVID-19 crisis on leaders, health care workers, educators, students and members of the community. Two of the projects invite participation by the community.

“I am so proud of the CHHS faculty and staff who are studying various aspects of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Charles Hardy, dean of the College of Health and Human Services. “Their research will lead to not only a better understanding of how we adapt – as people and professionals – but also how we flourish.” 

Among the projects directly related to COVID-19 are:  

  • Ashley Wells, assistant dean for community engagement and impact, primary investigator, and Jeanine Mingé, associate vice chancellor for community engagement, co-PI: “Female Leaders in Action.” This study seeks to understand the experiences of persons who identify as female leaders as they lead their organizations and communities through ongoing crises such as COVID-19. The information gathered will be used to help develop leadership training programs and curricula.

    The researchers are interested in learning what enables female leaders to guide their organizations through this  pandemic, as well as how the crisis may affect their leadership approach.

    “We are really interested to learn how this information can help inform future leadership development  programming, community development and capacity-building efforts as they pertain to preparing and strengthening mindsets and skills for future crises,” said Wells. They also seek to shine a light on female leaders and the strengths they exhibit during this critical time.

  • Anne Glass, applied gerontology, “Intergenerational Connections During the COVID-19 Crisis." This study explores loneliness and social isolation in people of all generations and how they are using technology to connect to others during this health crisis. 

    “Social isolation and loneliness are bad for your health, especially for older adults,” Glass explained. “Loneliness is a growing problem for younger people, too. The current stay-at-home restrictions raise this risk, especially since people may be home alone. We wanted to see how people are dealing with the situation and how they are using technology to connect between generations.”

    Lauretta Lawlor ’19, ’20M, a graduate student in applied gerontology, is working with Glass on the project. Anyone age 18 or older may participate in the anonymous survey, available here. 
  • Josalin Hunter-Jones, social work: “COVID-19 Resilience Photovoice Project.” This study asks people to upload photos that depict resilience as seen through their eyes. The objective is to measure a sense of individual and community resilience.

    Her co-investigators are Alicia Sellon, social work; and Anka Roberto, nursing. The team also includes graduate research assistants Megan Bolden ’19, ’20M, social work; and Meghan King ’16, ’22M, Watson College of Education.

    “We are interested in the psycho-socio-emotional well-being of people during these unprecedented times,” Hunter-Jones said. “Rather than highlighting difficulties, we are interested in what people are doing to ‘push through,’ both as individuals and as a community.”

    The study invites people to answer questions in a demographic survey and to upload photos that depict resilience. The team hopes to collect 100 to 200 photos that can be shared online as a virtual exhibit and to identify themes among the submitted photos. To participate in the study, visit this link.
  • Beth Gazza, nursing, “The Experience of Being an Academic Nurse Educator During a Pandemic." Gazza’s study will gather data from academic nurse educators. The findings will inform the creation of developmental processes to support educators.

    “The purpose of this phenomenological research is to learn what it is like to be a full-time academic nurse educator during a pandemic,” Gazza said. “I will use the findings to develop innovative programs and resources that enhance the use of technology to teach, advance research agendas and engage in service while maintaining physical distancing.” 
  • Tami Link, PI; and Sara Hubbell and Kelly Laham, co-PIs, nursing, "Reflections of FNP Students in First Clinical Practicum During COVID-19 Pandemic.” Students will be asked to provide reflections on the experience of being in their first clinical course during a pandemic and to share their views about the role of future nurse practitioners during health crises.

    “This idea came from a course assignment,” said Link. “We decided our students needed a place to ‘process’ their experience, and we replaced an academic discussion forum with one that allowed students to focus on their experiences. “We hope to publish in a nursing education journal. I think this project could inform our program leadership about students' experiences and what faculty can do to support them.”

“UNCW is committed to scholarly research that advances knowledge and has positive community impact, as emphasized in the university’s Strategic Plan,” said associate vice chancellor Mingé. “These projects reflect the innovative, engaged and collaborative spirit of UNCW researchers and how they work with and for our community partners to react and respond to a crisis that has changed everyone’s lives.”

-- Tricia Vance