Nursing faculty member joins initiative to improve veterans’ health care

M. Danet Lapiz-Bluhm, Ph.D., RN
M. Danet Lapiz-Bluhm, Ph.D., RN

M. Danet Lapiz-Bluhm, Ph.D., RN, associate professor in the School of Nursing, has been named a collaborative academic research member of a two-year initiative called the Veterans’ Action League. The multistate project will empower veterans to have an active voice in how veteran health care is delivered in the future.

In her role as the collaborative academic research member for the project in Texas, Dr. Lapiz-Bluhm will lead a series of focus groups in which veterans will discuss their experiences about accessing health care now and what they would like it to be in the future. The information will be combined with input obtained by research colleagues in the additional five states that have the highest veteran populations in the U.S.

The data will be used to design an interactive website, or tool kit, for use by veterans, community organizations and health care providers to connect veterans with available resources presented in a straightforward, user-friendly format.

Dr. Lapiz-Bluhm will be working with researchers across the country. The principal investigator of the initiative is Dr. Cheryl Krause-Parello from the University of Colorado.

“I am very excited to be part of the network of individuals and universities that are concerned about veterans’ health care access needs and to give them voice,” Dr. Lapiz-Bluhm said. “The data collected from the focus groups can help inform on how to best provide care to the veterans.”

The project is partially funded through a Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute Eugene Washington PCORI Engagement Award.

Dr. Lapiz-Bluhm has been involved in stress- and military-related research for several years, including research on animal models for neuropsychiatric disorders to learn about neurobiological, behavioral and neurocognitive components in relation to stress.

In 2013, she was named a 2013 Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Nurse Research Scholar. The three-year, $350,000 RWJF award supported her research in post-traumatic stress disorder through the South Texas Research Organizational Network Guiding Studies on Trauma and Resilience (commonly called STRONG-STAR). STRONG STAR is a multidisciplinary and multi-institutional research consortium funded by the U.S. Departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs, based in the Department of Psychiatry at the UT Health Science Center San Antonio.

Her main research goal is to develop interventions to treat or even prevent the negative consequences to trauma exposure among vulnerable individuals.

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