Nursing Research for a Changed America: National Institute of Nursing Research Strategic Plan
Still another sign of just how much has changed, is changing and will change in the health-care landscape of the United States, the National Institute of Nursing Research (NINR) recently released a new strategic plan – “Advancing Science, Improving Lives: A Vision for Nursing Science” (see https://www.ninr.nih.gov/aboutninr/ninr-mission-and-strategic-plan#.V9q4bTu-940) that builds upon but also departs from the earlier 2011 strategic plan. These plans set out the priorities of the Institute in its programs of support for research.
In her prologue to the plan, NINR Director Patricia Grady cited three landscape changes that influenced the plan development: an aging and increasingly diverse population; people living longer but with multiple chronic conditions; and the persistent and troubling fact that many people with advanced illness spend their last days, months, or years often with poorly managed symptoms in settings that do not reflect their needs or preferences (page 3).
At the same time, Dr. Grady acknowledges that research and innovation have helped usher in “a time of extraordinary opportunity in the health research enterprise as a whole,” with the advent of personalized medicine and data analytics. Research that was once virtually impossible to consider given the disparate nature of data bases is now possible as computing capabilities have advanced.
The plan itself is laid out around four major research themes:
1) symptom science – “Exploring the mechanisms underlying symptoms of illness and developing personalized treatments that address these mechanisms symptom” researc
2) wellness - “understanding the physical, behavioral, cultural, and environmental influences on health status and developing culturally tailored interventions to prevent illness and promote health”
3) self-management of chronic conditions – “using innovative technologies to develop novel interventions that deliver personalized care and real-time health information to patients, families, and health care providers”
4) end-of-life and palliative care - “developing palliative care strategies to help individuals and families manage the symptoms of life-limiting conditions and plan for end-of-life decisions”
Underlying these themes is NINR’s continuing commitment to promoting the capacity of the nursing profession to engage in scientific research that contributes to the improvement of health care. Particular emphasis is placed on the critical role nurse researchers do and will play In clinical research.
The timing of NINR’s plan is superb in that it is appearing at a time when the federal government is not investing in research in the way it once did, but the National Institutes of Health – of which NINR is one- can expect increased funding for research, albeit, somewhat more targeted than has been the case in recent years.