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Eapen receives Hillman grant

Award supports project to help moms experiencing homelessness

Doncy Eapen

A new grant from the Rita and Alex Hillman Foundation will enable Cizik School of Nursing at UTHealth Houston Assistant Professor Doncy Eapen, PhD, MSN, APRN, FNP-BC, to advance her work with mothers who have experienced both homelessness and interpersonal violence.

Eapen is one of 10 nurse scientists selected nationally to receive $50,000 awards this year through the prestigious Hillman Emergent Innovation (HEI) program. The HEI supports development of nursing-driven interventions to improve health and health care for marginalized populations.

“The Hillman Foundation recognizes the value of a nurse’s perspective in imagining new ways to address our most pressing health care problems, and Dr. Eapen’s two-pronged approach to empowering vulnerable women with positive parenting skills is a prime example,” said Dean Diane Santa Maria, DrPH, MSN, RN, FAAN. “Congratulations to Dr. Eapen on being the first Cizik School of Nursing faculty member to receive a grant from this prestigious and highly competitive program.”

Eapen’s new project, “Feasibility of a Positive Parenting Program for Women Experiencing Homelessness Who Have a History of Interpersonal Violence: A Randomized Controlled Trial,” builds on an early-stage pilot funded by the Rockefeller Heilbrunn Family Center for Research Nursing Scholars and the Simmons Foundation. Through the previous study, she provided counseling to women served by Houston-area shelters using the Recovering from Intimate Partner Violence Through Strength and Empowerment (RISE) program, which was developed by the Veterans Administration for veterans who experience partner violence, and the Play and Learning Strategies (PALS) program developed at the Children’s Learning Institute at UTHealth Houston.

With the HEI funding, Eapen will recruit 40 mother/child pairs who will be assigned to either an intervention group or a control group.

“We anticipate that our efforts will lead to a model that can be scaled to improve parenting and ultimately the health and well-being of mothers who have experienced trauma most of us can only imagine,” Eapen said. “I am honored that the Hillman Foundation has chosen to support this project and grateful for the support from my Cizik School of Nursing colleagues, co-investigators and my community partners.”

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Doncy J Eapen, PhD, MSN, RN, FNP-BC

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