Health-disparities researcher receives international honor

Carol Ferrans

Carol Ferrans. Photo: Mark Mershon/UIC College of Nursing (click on image to download larger size)

Carol Ferrans, professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago College of Nursing, is one of 25 nurse researchers to be inducted into the Sigma Theta Tau International Nurse Researcher Hall of Fame this summer.

Ferrans will attend the induction ceremony July 26 at the 25th International Nursing Research Congress in Hong Kong. The 25 Hall of Fame inductees represent the United States, Australia, Taiwan and the United Kingdom.

For over 25 years, Ferrans has conducted studies on quality of life and disparities in health care. She developed culturally specific measures for African Americans and Hispanic Americans, as well as other ethnic groups.

She is best known for the Ferrans and Powers Quality of Life Index, which has been used throughout the world and translated into 21 languages.

Ferrans, who is professor of of biobehavioral health science at UIC, has garnered $56 million in funding since receiving her first research grant in 1984. Support came from the National Cancer Institute, National Institute for Nursing Research and the National Institute for Minority Health and Health Disparities. She has published 77 articles and her work has been cited more than 4,000 times in scientific journals.

Ferrans also serves as associate dean for research in the UIC College of Nursing. She is co-director of the UIC Center of Excellence in Eliminating Health Disparities, one of a select few such centers funded by the National Institutes of Health.

Ferrans and her collaborators identified a set of cultural beliefs that contribute to the significantly higher mortality of African American women from breast cancer, and that these attitudes lead to an advanced stage of breast cancer at diagnosis. Those findings were cited by the American Cancer Society in its national guidelines for screening in 2011.

Ferrans subsequently developed an educational DVD aimed at changing those beliefs. It has been distributed to thousands of African American women in Chicago and throughout Illinois and Michigan.

Ferrans’ leadership was also instrumental to the passage of the Illinois Reducing Breast Cancer Disparities Act, which funds screening, diagnosis and treatment for breast and cervical cancer for all uninsured women in the state.

Ferrans has been recognized with many prestigious awards, including the Distinguished Researcher of the Oncology of Nursing Society, the Distinguished Contributions to Research Award from the Midwest Nursing Research Society, and the University Scholar Award from the University of Illinois.

“Carol is not only an outstanding researcher, but a stellar mentor and educator,” says Terri Weaver, dean of the UIC College of Nursing. “She is one of the most sought-after faculty members by graduate students, and she generously shares her time and expertise. Carol has made valuable contributions to the scholarly development of her students by guiding them in the publication of their work and inviting them to participate in her research. She truly deserves this award.”

The International Nurse Researcher Hall of Fame was created in 2010 to recognize nurse researchers whose research has improved the profession and the people it serves. The International Research Nursing Congress each year attracts more than 1,000 nurse researchers, students, clinicians and leaders.

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