“It takes a village of scholars from different disciplines and perspectives to address complex health-care problems,” notes Dr. Helene Moriarty. Her participation in nursing research is her way of giving back to veterans and their families “for their enduring and profound sacrifices for our country.”
“It’s palpable, how you get a sense of the psychological and physical scars veterans have experienced through combat deployment. You have to appreciate the sacrifice and the burden of the impact of war on our veterans and their families,” says Dr. Helene Moriarty, who has been a nurse researcher at the Philadelphia VA Medical Center over the past 20 years. An expert in research methodologies, she primarily uses mixed methods and interdisciplinary teams in her funded studies focusing on clinical issues, such as chronic illness, patient safety and infection control. When possible, she incorporates a family focus, because the family plays a critical role in the health and illness of its members.
Currently, Dr. Moriarty and her colleague, Dr. Laraine Winter, are principal investigators on a study evaluating the impact of the innovative Veterans’ In-home Program (VIP) for veterans with traumatic brain injury (TBI) and their families. Funded by the National Institutes of Health and the Eunice Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, the study addresses the National Center for Medical Rehabilitation Research priority of therapies and interventions to improve outcomes for veterans with mild to moderate TBI—the signature injury of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. TBI produces a broad range of cognitive, physical and psychosocial symptoms that compromise quality of life for veterans and the families that care for them. VIP is designed to promote community reintegration, improve quality of life and support functioning by realigning environmental demands to match the veterans’ abilities.