Dr. Sherry Burrell, a May 2014 PhD graduate, received the College of Nursing’s Distinguished Dissertation Award at the May 16, 2015 Convocation.
Dr. Burrell conducted groundbreaking research for her study “Exploring Symptom Clusters and Quality of Life in Individuals Undergoing Surgery for Pancreatic Cancer.” She was able to access the nation’s largest data base including pancreatic cancer surgical patients to assess symptom clusters in relation to the therapeutic regimen from pre-surgery through nine months post-surgery. This was the first study to examine patient- reported symptom profiles to identify and follow symptom clusters over time in post-operative patients with stage II pancreatic cancer. The findings from the Burrell Study may be used to provide anticipatory guidance and help inform prevention, assessment, and management of symptom clusters in surgical patients with pancreatic cancer. Dr. Burrell had the opportunity to work with an inter-professional team at a leading academic health science center during this process, affording her valuable insights that will inform her future work.
This research directly responded to calls from the National Cancer Institute, the Nation al Institute for Nursing Research, and the Oncology Nursing Society for continuing research of cancer related symptoms, symptom clusters, and quality of life among cancer patients . Her study provided valuable insights about a population that has been relatively less studied than other cancer populations. It was longitudinal and revealed changes in the patterns of symptom clusters over time. Dr. Burrell’s research is unique in that she reports on the influence of demographic and clinical factors on symptom clusters and their effect on functional status, quality of life and survival.