Nursing professor recognized for minority health research

Nicole Stiles

For the second year in a row, a UT nursing professor received the Research in Minority Health award from the Southern Nursing Research Society. 

In February, the Society announced that Sharon Horner, associate dean for research in the School of Nursing, was granted the award for her asthma research. Horner said her studies are set apart by her inclusion of minorities, which had only been done on a small scale prior to her research.

“Before I started this work, there were two studies reported in the literature that included Mexican-Americans: One was a pilot study with 28 children but only two were Mexican-American,” Horner said in an email. “The second study was a school-based program with 12 of 100 children being Mexican-American. My studies have had at least 50 percent Mexican-Americans and so we are filling an important niche.” 

According to Janet Morrison, nursing graduate student and research associate for Horner’s studies, minorities have been neglected in past health research.

“I believe that minority and underserved populations have been overlooked in the past. The National Institutes of Health has identified these populations as priority research,” Morrison said.

Horner said her research focuses on children and managing the care they receive at home.

“All of my clinical practice has been with children and their parents … What particularly caught my attention were the families who were dealing with chronic health problems,” Horner said. “I was curious about how they managed at home since that is where most care actually takes place.”

Morrison said children’s health is a growing problem in our society.

“The current and future health status of children is a critical problem facing our nation. The roots of poor health are multifactorial and potential solutions that require innovative strategies as well as community, state and federal support,” Morrison said.

According to Horner, her desire to research asthma stemmed from the extensive amount of children that are affected by the chronic illness, as well as its unpredictability. 

“This condition affects about 7 million children… Some children have mild intermittent asthma, sometimes only in one season, while other children have more severe asthma with symptoms nearly every day,” Horner said.

According to Sharon Brown, a nursing professor at the University who won the award last year, UT professors receiving the award two years in a row reflects the quality of research at the School of Nursing.

“I think these awards are a testament to the type of research we tend to do here in the School of Nursing: research that has a community-based focus and has societal benefits,” Brown said.