Congratulations to the latest doctoral graduate at Penn State Worthington Scranton, Michael Evans, assistant chief academic officer and instructor in nursing at Penn State Worthington Scranton, who proudly received his doctorate in nursing at last month’s commencement ceremony at the Bryce Jordan Center at University Park.
Evans titled his dissertation: “Somatic Awareness and Self-Symptom Recognition in Advanced Heart Failure Patients.”
The dissertation committee evaluating his dissertation was Judith Hupcey, dissertation chair and the associate dean for graduate education and research and a professor of nursing; and dissertation committee members Lisa Kitko, assistant professor of nursing; Paula Milone-Nuzzo, dean and professor in the College of Nursing; and Patricia Hinchey, professor of education at Penn State Worthington Scranton.
Evans’ study examined somatic awareness, or sensitivity to physical sensations and bodily activity secondary to physiological change, and self-symptom recognition, or a patient’s noting of bodily changes and linking those changes with a particular disease entity rather than other potential causes.
He focused his study primarily on patients in Stage D heart failure, though this can also be compared with newly diagnosed heart failure patients all the way to patients with chronic heart failure.
The results of his study showed that the chronic group had higher somatic awareness scores when compared to the newly-diagnosed groups. It was unclear if the findings truly related to their length of time living with heart failure or other variables.
Those variables include co-morbidities that may present with symptoms similar to heart failure. Even though participants did not recognize their symptoms as a result of their heart failure, he was not able to conclude that all participants had poor self-symptom recognition, as participants may have been relating their symptoms accurately to their co-morbid condition.
“It is critical to understand if individuals with advanced heart failure, and other chronic diseases have the ability to perceive if they are having symptoms and can interpret if symptoms are related to a specific disease, in this case, advanced heart failure. Without adequate somatic awareness and self-symptom recognition, patients may delay self-care and/or healthcare utilization which can result in poor health outcomes and increased mortality rates," said Evans.
Evans received an associate of science in nursing and his bachelor of science in nursing from Penn State and a master’s of science in nursing, with a specialization in adult health and a sub-specialization in nursing education, from Misericordia University. In addition, he earned his master of science in education with a focus in professional studies from Capella University.
He was the recipient of the 2016 Dr. Richard J. and Sally Matthews Award for Scholarly Activity, which is awarded annually to a deserving Penn State Worthington Scranton faculty member in recognition of his/her scholarly and research activities. This award was created in 1988 through the generosity of Advisory Board member Richard J. Matthews and his wife, Sally.
Evans resides in Archbald with his wife, Stephanie, and their son, Finn.