Research Grants Drive Change in Nursing Practice

Nov 18, 2021

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Grants from AACN fund nurse-led studies addressing gaps in bedside knowledge to support clinical inquiry and drive change in acute and critical care nursing practice

ALISO VIEJO, Calif. — Nov. 18, 2021 — The American Association of Critical-Care Nurses (AACN) announces the recipients of its annual research grants.

This year, the association awarded three AACN Impact Research Grants up to $50,000 each and the AACN-Sigma Critical Care Grant with up to $10,000 in funding. Since launching the grant program in 2011, AACN has awarded more than $1 million and 27 Impact Research Grants to help ensure a pipeline for evidence-based resources in support of a wide range of priorities.

AACN Impact Research Grants support clinical inquiry that drives change in acute and critical care nursing practice. The grants are designed to help ensure a vital source of clinically relevant research for creating evidence-based resources. Five priority areas guide AACN’s research activities:

  • Effective and appropriate use of technology to achieve optimal patient assessment, management and/or outcomes
  • Creation of healing, humane environments
  • Processes and systems that foster the optimal contributions of acute and critical care nurses
  • Effective approaches to symptom management
  • Prevention and management of complications

“As we mark the 10th year since AACN established the Impact Research Grant program, we affirm our long-standing commitment to nurse-driven research and evidence-based practice,” said AACN Chief Clinical Officer Connie Barden, MSN, RN, CCRN-K, CCNS. “AACN-funded projects continue to influence the care provided by nurses every day and help improve outcomes for patients and their families.”

This year’s funded projects and grant recipients:

  • Pediatric Recovery after Sepsis Treatment in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PERSIST-PICU)
  • The PERSIST-PICU study will analyze data from three pediatric critical care studies that were funded by the National Institutes of Health to explore the impact of sepsis-related inflammation on new morbidities in pediatric patients who survived acute respiratory failure. The study aims to understand physical function outcomes in critically ill children with or without sepsis. The goal is to develop a multivariable model to identify pediatric patients who may be at increased risk of physical morbidity and symptoms post-critical illness, leading to tailored interventions to optimize healing and recovery post-PICU. Mallory Perry, PhD, RN, CCRN, Provost’s postdoctoral fellow for academic diversity, Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, is the principal investigator, with support from an expert mentorship team of pediatric critical care clinicians and researchers.

  • Telomere Biology and Associations with Morbidity in Critical Ill (Impact Research Grant)
  • Telomeres are sections of DNA that provide genomic stability but shorten over time, reducing their protective attributes. Shorter telomeres have been associated with increased incidence of disease and poor survival, and critically ill patients are exceptionally vulnerable to telomere attrition and telomere damage. This innovative study will examine the relationship between telomeres and ICU- and post-ICU-related outcomes and the potential moderating effect of oxidative stress. The results will inform the design of larger studies targeting modifiable factors to improve patient outcomes. The lead researcher is Zhan Liang, PhD, assistant professor, University of Miami.

  • Influence of Unplanned Hypothermia and Inflammatory Biomarkers on Delirium Incidence in Critically Ill Adult Surgical Patients (Impact Research Grant)
  • The prospective cohort study will investigate delirium incidence and prevalence related to surgical stress and perioperative temperature in critically ill patients in the surgical intensive care unit. Doreen Wagner, PhD, RN, CNOR, FAAN, professor of nursing, Kennesaw State University, Kennesaw, Georgia, is the principal investigator for the study. Dr. Wagner’s research builds on the recent retrospective study she led that found a complex relationship between postoperative delirium and unplanned hypothermia. The results aim to determine the influence of unplanned perioperative hypothermia on the development of postoperative delirium in critically ill surgical patients across the life span.

  • Intensive Care Unit Delirium in the COVID-19 Pandemic (AACN-Sigma Grant)
  • Patients with COVID-19 respiratory failure are potentially more vulnerable to the effects of delirium due to differences in treatment, but the extent to which this is true remains unknown. The researchers will review data from a sample of 110 electronic medical records, evenly split between patients with respiratory failure and COVID-19 and those who are COVID-negative. The analysis will look at delirium incidence rates between the two groups and compare group differences in nursing and medical care factors. Brian Peach, PhD, RN, CCRN, assistant professor, University of Central Florida College of Nursing, Orlando, received the grant.

AACN will award up to three $50,000 Impact Research Grants in 2022. AACN continues to partner with the Sigma Foundation for Nursing to co-sponsor the AACN-Sigma Critical Care Grant, with up to $10,000 in funding.

Principal investigators must be current AACN members with either an earned master’s degree or completed candidacy requirements for a doctoral degree. Sigma members are also eligible to apply for the AACN-Sigma grant.

For more information, including award criteria and supporting documents, visit or email

About the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses: For more than 50 years, the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses (AACN) has been dedicated to acute and critical care nursing excellence. The organization’s vision is to create a healthcare system driven by the needs of patients and their families in which acute and critical care nurses make their optimal contribution. AACN is the world’s largest specialty nursing organization, with more than 130,000 members and over 200 chapters in the United States.

American Association of Critical-Care Nurses, 27071 Aliso Creek Road, Aliso Viejo, CA 92656; 949-362-2000;;;