2015 Distinguished Scientist - Barbara J. Riegel, PhD, FAHA, FAAN
Dr. Barbara Riegel is the Edith Clemmer Steinbright Professor of Gerontology and Director of the Biobehavioral Research Center at the University of Pennsylvania, School of Nursing. She is co-editor of the Journal of Cardiovascular Nursing, which is the official journal of the Preventive Cardiovascular Nurses Association and endorsed by the AHA Council on Cardiovascular and Stroke Nursing.
Dr. Riegel is an established nurse scientist studying adults with cardiovascular disease. Her primary research interest is self-care of older adults with chronic heart failure. Recently her interests have expanded to include multimorbidity—a common phenomenon in adults with heart failure. Dr. Riegel focuses her research on the self-care issues of medication adherence and decision-making in response to symptoms. She has demonstrated that poor medication adherence is a primary contributor to hospitalization in heart failure, identified intentional and unintentional factors associated with poor medication adherence, and developed an approach to improving medication adherence in these patients. In reference to symptom response, she has identified factors that impair the ability of heart failure patients to accurately perceive and interpret their symptoms, including age-related changes in interoception and illness-related changes in the brain. She has published both a situation-specific theory of heart failure self-care and a middle range theory of self-care of chronic illness. These theories have formed the basis of various self-report research measures used worldwide to study the self-care behaviors of chronically ill individuals. Dr. Riegel has more than 250 peer reviewed publications and is invited to speak nationally and internationally on self-care. This interest grew out of her early years as a Clinical Nurse Researcher at Sharp HealthCare in San Diego, California, where she led several studies testing disease management approaches to transitioning chronically ill patients from hospital to home, a theme that continues in her current program of research.