CHICOPEE — Grace LaValley, who earned her doctor of nursing practice (DNP) degree in the inaugural DNP class at Elms College, had a paper accepted to the American Assoc. of Cardiac and Pulmonary Rehabilitation (AACVPR) for a podium presentation at AACVPR’s 32nd annual meeting in October, where it is a candidate for the conference’s Beginner Investigator Award.
The paper Lavalley will present at the AACVPR conference was her capstone project in the DNP program at Elms College. Each DNP student is required to complete a scholarly capstone project that contributes to the field of nursing. The project topics are related to the areas of nursing where they currently work or areas in which they have a particular interest.
Lavalley’s project earned her the 2017 DNP Capstone Award from Elms College, which honors a DNP student who has developed a distinguished capstone project that demonstrates scholarly rigor, innovation, and outcomes that improve health or health-related outcomes for a specific population, and has the potential to advance nursing science, practice, or policy.
The paper is titled “A Telephone Intervention to Improve Patient Return Rates in Cardiac Rehabilitation: A Pilot Study” and focuses on cardiac rehabilitation, or CR.
“Cardiovascular disease accounts for 17.3 million deaths per year, a number projected to reach 23.6 million by 2030,” Lavalley said. CR improves patient outcomes and reduces risk in the earlier post-discharge period, but it remains highly underused, she added. Despite its benefits, many patients are at risk for not following the CR program, for a variety of reasons.
She and her colleagues decided to investigate whether a telephone call focused on patient motivation, education, risks, and goal setting would improve return rates among patients identified as at risk for non-adherence to the CR program.
“Telephone interventions are known to be an important tool to provide support and help overcome barriers after discharge,” she noted.
They studied 100 patients in Baystate Medical Center’s outpatient CR program and found that those who received the telephone call were more likely to attend their second session of CR as scheduled, compared with patients who did not receive this intervention (80% versus 51%). The overall return rate was higher in the intervention group as well.
“This straightforward strategy represents an attractive adjunct to current management of outpatient CR patients,” she said.
Lavalley’s coauthors are Heidi Szalai, Dr. Quinn Pack, and Andrew Storer, associate professor of Nursing at Elms. Their paper will be published in the September/October 2017 issue of the AACVPR’s Journal of Cardiopulmonary Rehabilitation and Prevention.
Storer was the capstone chair for Lavalley’s project; he supervised the project from the development stage through implementation and analysis. The project, he said, “has made a positive impact in the quality of care for the patients, institutions, and communities served.”
Added Lavalley, “this project may be of great value to other cardiac rehab programs around the nation, particularly in this complex healthcare environment,” Lavalley said.