UF nursing students, researchers EMBRACE collaboration for palliative care

Through a collaboration, University of Florida College Nursing students had the opportunity to work with and learn from seasoned researchers on a successful pilot study that found potential mutual benefits of caregivers giving daily massages to patients receiving hospice and palliative care.  

Recent College of Nursing BSN students Kristina Henderson and Stacy Xavier, as well as former PhD student Tasha Schoppee worked with researchers from the college’s Center for Palliative Care Research and Education, on the proof of concept study, titled “Feasibility and Burden of Lay Caregivers Providing Daily Massages to Patients with Cancer Receiving Hospice and Palliative Care.” Thanks to their contributions, the research team not only found that it would be realistic for caregivers to give massages, but also that most caregivers and their loved ones reported feeling closeness and mutual concern during massage time, suggesting that more research is needed to collect stronger scientific evidence about the therapy’s potential benefits.

While working on the study, Henderson and Xavier were members of the Engaging Multiple Communities of BSN students in Research and Academic Curricular Experiences, or EMBRACE program. An innovative program created to provide unique research and leadership opportunities for nursing students from diverse backgrounds, EMBRACE introduced the two students to College of Nursing faculty whose work shared their areas of interest.

College of Nursing and Center for Palliative Care Research and Education researchers Diana Wilkie, PhD, RN, FAAN, the Prairieview Trust – Earl and Margo Powers Endowed Professor, and Yingwei Yao, PhD, research associate professor, helped the pair of students gain hands-on experience with the entire research process, from study recruitment to data collection techniques, step-by-step. The project even led to an article that was published in the scientific journal American Journal of Hospice and Palliative Medicine. Xavier and Henderson now remain motivated and eager to learn about research methods further, even after having both graduated from the BSN program.

“It was a great opportunity to work with different faculty members and network within the research community,” Stacy Xavier, BSN, RN, now a registered nurse for the UF Health MICU, said. “I am now much more comfortable performing research on my own or even pursuing graduate school in the future.”

Other members of the research team included Chief Contemplative Educator of Healing and Health Solutions, Karen Moosvi, PhD, RN; and Marie Suarez, PhD, of the University of Illinois at Chicago.