Nursing PhD student receives grant from Sigma Theta Tau for research on preventing ICU delirium

Theresa Smith

Nursing PhD student Theresa Smith received the $5,000 Sigma Small grant from Sigma Theta Tau International’s Sigma Foundation for Nursing. The funds are awarded to nurses for the advancement of the profession via research. Smith is one of 16 recipients this year and says the grant will help further her dissertation research, titled “Weighted Blankets: An Intervention for Managing ICU Delirium.”  

“[Intensive Care Unit (ICU)] delirium has such a negative effect on patients,” says Smith. “It not only increases morbidity and mortality but leads to other conditions, and it even impacts post-ICU admission post-traumatic stress disorder.”  

Smith’s research seeks to identify if the use of weighted blankets has an effect on the symptoms of ICU delirium for patients who are mechanically ventilated. Delirium affects up to 87 percent of ICU patients, with those on a ventilator having the highest incidence. Smith hopes that an easily implementable intervention such as covering patients with a weighted blanket can contribute to better patient outcomes. 

Smith credits Mason’s Nursing PhD Program with expanding her understanding of research and how she can have an impact on health care through her field of study. “My experiences with the faculty and my dissertation chair have been invaluable and have allowed me opportunities to present, publish, and network with experts in my field,” she says. “I strongly believe that this program has opened doors toward my future in nursing research.”