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SLU Nurse Awarded Grant to Help African American Patients Manage High Blood Pressure

by Bridjes O'Neil on 06/06/2022
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Bridjes O'Neil
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06/06/2022

ST. LOUIS – Devita Stallings, Ph.D., RN to BSN program coordinator and associate professor of nursing at Saint Louis University’s Trudy Busch Valentine School of Nursing, was awarded a $50,000 grant by the Institute of Clinical and Translational Sciences (ICTS), a Washington University-led research consortium, of which Saint Louis University is a member. 

With the grant, Stallings will employ a community-based participatory research approach to develop a web-based mobile health app for self-management of hypertension among African American patients. 

Devita Stallings, Ph.D. Photo by Sarah Conroy.

Devita Stallings, Ph.D., RN to BSN program coordinator and associate professor of nursing at Saint Louis University’s Trudy Busch Valentine School of Nursing. Photo by Sarah Conroy. 

According to the CDC, hypertension is more common in non-Hispanic Black adults than in non-Hispanic white adults, non-Hispanic Asian adults, or Hispanic adults. Hypertension also puts patients at risk for heart disease and stroke, the leading causes of death in the United States.

It was a stroke that led to the death of Stallings’ grandmother when Stallings was a child and now fuels her passion to educate the community about the dangers of uncontrolled blood pressure. Stallings’ research studies factors influencing self-management behaviors of minority populations with hypertension and heart failure. One way to reach underserved populations is through a phone, Stallings said.

The ICTS funds will support a pilot study, “Engaging African American Communities in the Development of a Hypertension Self-Management App.”  Unlike other similar apps on the market, Stallings said her app incorporates theory-based, culturally relevant, individualized, and evidence-based self-management interventions to improve hypertension disparities. She will also employ an IT developer and a hypertension advisor panel consisting of nurses, doctors, nutritionists, community leaders, and African Americans living with hypertension.  

"We need more researchers doing this work to improve African Americans' quality of life and life expectancy," Stallings said.

Institute of Clinical and Translational Sciences  

Saint Louis University is a part of a Washington University-led research consortium, the Institute of Clinical and Translational Sciences (ICTS), which has granted funding to its latest cohort as a part of the 15th annual Clinical and Translational Research Funding Program (CTRFP). The CTRFP is the most extensive internal grant funding program of the ICTS.

This year the CTRFP received over 100 letters of intent from ICTS members. ICTS and The Foundation for Barnes-Jewish Hospital awarded grants over $1.1M for investigator-initiated projects. Of the 25, four were SLU projects. Project proposals submitted promote the translation of scientific discoveries into improvements in human health. For 2022, awards were considered across three project categories: clinical/translational, community-engaged research, biostatistics, epidemiology, and research design.

Trudy Busch Valentine School of Nursing

Founded in 1928, the Trudy Busch Valentine School of Nursing at Saint Louis University has achieved a national reputation for its innovative and pioneering programs. Offering bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral nursing programs, its faculty members are nationally recognized for their teaching, research and clinical expertise.