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UMFK nursing professor receives Trustee Professorship

February 7, 2003

NR03017

University of Maine at Fort Kent assistant professor of nursing Jenny Radsma has been selected as a University of Maine System Trustee Professor to conduct a study that will look at nurses who smoke and the impact they have on patients who are affected by the use of tobacco.

The year-long research project entitled Registered nurses who smoke and how they address their health promotion role with clients who smoke: A grounded theory study, will be funded by the University of Maine System and conducted by Radsma beginning in June of this year.

Her work will be aimed at generating a theory that explains how nurses who smoke manage their clinical responsibility when it comes to providing care for others affected by the use of tobacco.

"Because of their frontline position within the health care system, nurses are strategically positioned to assess and advise clients who struggle to combat their addiction to nicotine. The drawback to this health promotion opportunity is the smoking behavior of nurses themselves. Existing literature indicates that, in contrast to their nonsmoking colleagues, nurses who smoke are less likely to encourage smoking cessation," said Radsma.

According to the researcher, the prevalence of smoking among nurses is estimated to be between 14 and 20 percent, only somewhat less than that of the general public where approximately 25 percent of the population smokes cigarettes.

Radsma acknowledges that numerous studies have been conducted for many years on tobacco use, cigarette smoking, and smoking cessation, however, research on nurses and their smoking behavior, particularly in relation to their clinical role is very limited.

"This research is necessary. Nurses bear a professional mandate to promote health, including the prevention and treatment of nicotine addiction, and knowledge about nurses' role in this process is inadequate," said Radsma. "The human costs from smoking are devastating and nurses are ideally situated to promote tobacco-free lifestyles."

The first phase of Radsma's research will begin in June, when she will turn to regional health care agencies in Aroostook County to gain their support. That will be followed by a period of active recruitment for individuals to serve as research participants.

The period of time from July to November will involve data collection, transcription, and data analysis, including writing observations that evolve from the data. A draft of her findings will be completed and edited in November, December and January.

In May and June of 2004, Radsma will publicize her research findings.

In addition to benefiting nursing students at UMFK, and professional nurses everywhere, results of the study will contribute to, and support the efforts of the Partnership for a Tobacco Free Maine, which was developed as a result of the tobacco excise tax legislation passed in 1997. Local efforts of the PTM are coordinated by the St. John Valley Partnership.

"The awarding of this Trustee Professorship signifies the strong support from UMFK and the University of Maine System toward addressing what is currently on the state and national health agenda, that is to promote tobacco free lifestyles and to prevent disease, disability and death from tobacco related causes," said Radsma.

University of Maine System Trustee Professorships are awarded to faculty members who have completed at least three years of service at one of the seven state campuses.

Faculty projects must have broad and or significant institutional impact, contribute to the candidate's field and to the public service mission of the university, and support the candidate's personal and professional growth.

Candidates are nominated by the individual campus to the chancellor's office for final approval.