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Sue Heidrich

Sue Heidrich

Ph.D., University of Wisconsin-Madison
Professor Emeritus, School of Nursing

Optimizing Health in Older Women

My research has had two foci: understanding how older persons, particularly older women, cope successfully with stressors associated with aging; and developing and testing psychoeducational interventions to help older adults more successfully manage the typical symptoms associated with aging and chronic health problems. To try to understand how older women cope successfully with aging, we examined how women maintain their psychological well-being and mental health while they were experiencing changes in lifestyle and physical health. To do this, we followed about 190 women over ten years, from an average age of 73 to 81. Although in ten years these women experienced more chronic medical problems, more bothersome physical symptoms, and more frailty, most maintained their sense of autonomy and had no evidence of depression. On the other hand, women did experience a decline in relationships with others and in having a sense of growth and purpose in life and an increase in anxiety. What contributed most to these declines in well-being was an increase in annoying or distressing symptoms, such as joint pain, fatigue, and weakness that limited women's daily activities.

Because of these findings, we developed and tested in a clinical trial a psychoeducational intervention, called "IRIS" (Individualized Representational Intervention to Improve Symptom Management). IRIS focuses on helping women understand, through discussions with a nurse, what they believe about their symptoms, how they have coped with symptoms in the past, and how to adapt their approach based on current medical information and treatment. We have tested this approach in a randomized clinical trial of 207 women aged 65 and over who have had breast cancer. At the end of eight weeks, women who received the IRIS intervention had a significant improvement in their symptoms compared to women in the control group. In addition, women were able to successfully carry out symptom management plans, changed their self care of symptoms, and perceived those changes to be meaningful. We hope extend this work to both men and women who are experiencing any type of aging or chronic illness-related symptoms.

Representative Publications
Sun, W., Chen, K., Terhaar, A., Wiegmann, D. A., Heidrich, S. M., Tevaarwerk, A. J., & Sesto, M. E. (2016). Work-related barriers, facilitators, and strategies of breast cancer survivors working during curative treatment. Work, 55(4), 783-795.
View publication via DOI: DOI:10.3233/wor-162449

Broome, C.A., Ayala, E.M., Georgeson, K. A., Heidrich, S.M., Karnes, K., & Wells, J.B. (2015). Nursing care of the super bariatric patient: Challenges and lessons learned. Rehabilitation Nursing, 40(2), 92-99.
View publication via DOI: DOI:10.1002/rnj.165

Schumacher, J.R., Palta, M., LoConte, N.K., Trentham-Dietz, A., Witt, W.P., Heidrich, S.M., & Smith, M.A. (2013). Characterizing the psychological distress response before and after a cancer diagnosis. Journal of Behavioral Medicine, 36(6), 591-600.
View publication via DOI: DOI:10.1007/s10865-012-9453-x

Yeom, H., & Heidrich, S.M. (2013). Relationships between three beliefs as barriers to symptom management and quality of life in older breast cancer survivors. Oncology Nursing Forum, 40(3), E108-E118.
View publication via DOI: DOI:10.1188/13.ONF.E108-E118

Lin, F., & Heidrich, S.M. (2012). Role of older adult's illness schemata in coping with Mild Cognitive Impairment. Journal of Psychosomatic Research, 72(5), 357-363.
View publication via DOI: DOI:10.1016/j.jpsychores.2012.01.008

Royer, H.R., Heidrich, S.M. & Brown, R.L. (2012). Young women's representations of Sexually Transmitted Diseases (RoSTD): A Psychometric Study. Research in Nursing and Health, 35(1), 15-29.
View publication via DOI: DOI:10.1002/nur.21452

Schumacher, J.R., Witt, W.P., Palta, M., Loconte, N.K., Heidrich, S.M., Trentham-Dietz, A., Pandhi, N., & Smith, M.A. (2012). Cancer Screening of Long-Term Cancer Survivors. Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine, 25(4), 460-469.
View publication via DOI: DOI:10.3122/jabfm.2012.04.110118

Lin, F., Gleason, C.E., & Heidrich, S.M. (2012). Illness representations in older adults with mild cognitive impairment. Research in Gerontological Nursing, 5(3), 195-206.
View publication via DOI: DOI:10.3928/19404921-20120605-04

Lin, F., Vance, D.E., Gleason, C.E., & Heidrich, S.M. (2012). Caring for Older Adults with Mild Cognitive Impairment: An Update for Nurses Journal of Gerontological Nursing, 38(12), 22-35.
View publication via DOI: DOI:10.3928/00989134-20121106-02

Roiland, R.A., & Heidrich, S.M. (2011). Symptom clusters and quality of life in older adult breast cancer survivors. Oncology Nursing Forum, 38(6), 672-680.
View publication via DOI: DOI:10.1188/11.ONF.672-680

Phelan, C.H., Love, G.D., Ryff, C.D., Brown, R.L., & Heidrich, S.M. (2010). Psychosocial predictors of changing sleep patterns in aging women: A multiple pathway approach. Psychology and Aging, 25(4), 858-866.
Click here to download this publication.
View publication via DOI: DOI:10.1037/a0019622

Royer, H.R., Keller, M.L., & Heidrich, S.M. (2009). Young adolescents' perceptions of romantic relationships and sexual activity. Sex Education, 9(4), 395-408.
View publication via DOI: DOI:10.1080/14681810903265329

Yeom, H., & Heidrich, S.M. (2009). Effect of perceived barriers to symptom management on quality of life in older breast cancer survivors. Cancer Nursing, 23(4), 309-316.
View publication via DOI: DOI:10.1097/NCC.0b013e31819e239e

Royer, H.R., Phelan, C.H., & Heidrich, S.M. (2009). Older breast cancer survivors' symptom beliefs: A content analysis. Oncology Nursing Forum, 36(4), 463-470.
View publication via DOI: DOI:10.1188/09.ONF.463-470

Heidrich, S.M., Brown, R.L., Egan, J.J., Perez, O.A., Phelan, C.H., Yeom, H., & Ward, S.E. (2009). An individualized representational intervention to improve symptom management in older breast cancer survivors: Three pilot studies. Oncology Nursing Forum, 36(3), 281.
View publication via DOI: DOI:10.1188/09.ONF.E133-E143

Ward, E.C., Clark, L., & Heidrich, S. (2009). African American women's beliefs, coping behaviors, and barriers to seeking mental health services. Qualitative Health Research, 19(11), 1589-1601.
View publication via DOI: DOI:10.1002/nur.20344

Ward, E.C., & Heidrich, S. (2009). African American women's beliefs about mental illness, stigma and preferred coping behaviors. Research in Nursing and Health, 32, 480-492.
View publication via DOI: DOI:10.1177/1049732309350686

Phelan, C.H., Brown, R., & Heidrich, S.M. (2008). Changes in sleep quality of community-dwelling older women over 10 years. Sleep 2008 22nd Annual Meeting of the Associated Professional Sleep Societies, Baltimore, MD, June, 2008.

Hook, M.L., Heidrich, S.M., & Mahoney, J.E. (2008). Beliefs about fall risk and fall prevention behavior in high-risk community dwelling older adults. Paper presented at the National State of the Science Conferences, Washington, DC, October, 2008.

Lin, F., & Heidrich, S. M. (2008). Does psychological well-being mediate the effects of symptoms on function in older breast cancer survivors? Poster presented at the APOS 5th Annual Conference and Workshop Training, Irvine, CA, Feb., 2008.

Thananowan, N., & Heidrich, S.M. (2008). Intimate Partner Violence (IPV) among Thai pregnant women. Violence Against Women, 14, 509-527.
View publication via DOI: DOI:10.1177/1077801208315525

Phelan, C. H., & Heidrich, S.M. (2007). Patterns of pain and well-being in older women: A 10-year longitudinal study. Journal of Women and Aging, 19(3/4), 21-35.
View publication via DOI: DOI:10.1300/J074v19n03_03

Donovan, H.S., Ward, S.E., Song, M.K., Heidrich, S.M., Gunnarsdottir, S., & Phillips, C.M. (2007). An update on the representational approach to patient education. Journal of Nursing Scholarship, 39(3), 259-265.
View publication via DOI: DOI:10.1111/j.1547-5069.2007.00178.x

Royer, H.R., Phelan, C.H., Ninman, N.L., & Heidrich, S.M. (2007). Older breast cancer survivors symptom representations: A content analysis. Poster presented at the 9th National Conference on Cancer Nursing Research, Hollywood, CA, Feb., 2007.

Heidrich, S.M., Egan, J.J., Brown, R.L., Ward, S.E., & Vanummersen, L. (2007). A representational intervention for symptom management in older breast cancer survivors: Preliminary findings. Paper presented at the 9th National Conference on Cancer Nursing Research, Hollywood, CA, Feb., 2007.

Yeom, H., Perez, O.A., & Heidrich, S.M. (2007). Changes in symptom distress and mood after an individualized symptom management intervention in older cancer survivors. Poster presented at the 60th Annual Scientific Meeting of the Gerontological Society of America, San Francisco, CA, Nov., 2007.

Batz, E.M., & Heidrich, S.M. (2007). 2004 National Nursing Assistants survey: Predictors of intention to leave. Poster presented at the 60th Annual Scientific Meeting of the Gerontological Society of America, San Francisco, CA, Nov., 2007.

Egan, J.J., Perez, O.A., Pe-Romashko, K., Moe, A., Len, F., & Heidrich, S.M. (2007). Successfully implementing a telephone intervention with older women. Poster presented at the 60th Annual Scientific Meeting of the Gerontological Society of America, San Francisco, CA, Nov. 17, 2007.

Hook, M.L., Mahoney, J.E., & Heidrich, S.M. (2007). Exploring relationship between risk representation, prevention, and falling in high risk elders using the Common Sense Model. Poster presented at the 60th Annual Scientific Meeting of the Gerontological Society of America, San Francisco, CA.

Phelan, C. H., Brown, R.L., & Heidrich, S.M. (2007). Sleep quality of community-dwelling elderly women: Trajectories over ten years. Poster presented at the 60th Annual Scientific Meeting of the Gerontological Society of America, San Francisco, CA, Nov., 2007.

Heidrich, S.M., Egan, J.J., Brown, R.L., Ward, S.E., Vanummersen, L. (2007). A representational intervention for symptom management in older breast cancer survivors: Preliminary findings. Oncology Nursing Forum, 34(1), 194.

Heidrich, S.M., Egan, J., Hengudomsub, P., & Randolph, S. (2006). Symptoms, symptom beliefs, and quality of life older breast cancer survivors: A comparative study. Oncology Nursing Forum, 33(2), 315-322.

Plach, S.K., Heidrich, S.M., & Jeske, L. (2006). Fatigue representations in women with chronic heart failure. Research in Nursing and Health, 29, 452-464.
View publication via DOI: DOI:10.1002/nur.20156

Plach, S.K., Stevens, P.E., & Heidrich, S. M. (2006). Social roles and health in women living with HIV/AIDS: A pilot study. Journal of the Association of Nurses in AIDS Care, 17(2), 58-64.
View publication via DOI: DOI:10.1016/j.jana.2006.01.006

Heidrich, S.M., & Wells, T.J. (2004). The effect of urinary incontinence on psychological well-being and distress in older community-dwelling women. Journal of Gerontological Nursing, 30(5),47-54.

Heidrich, S.M., & Powwattana, A. (2004). Self-discrepancy and health in older women with chronic illnesses. Journal of Adult Development, 11, 251-259.
View publication via DOI: DOI:10.1023/B:JADE.0000044528.54943.5f

Heidrich, S. M., Ward, S. E., Julesberg, K., Miller, N., Donovan, H., Gunnarsdottir, S., Davis, S., Hughes, S., & Serlin, R.C. (2003). Conducting intervention research through the Cancer Information Service: A feasibility study. Oncology Nursing Forum, 30(1),131-134.
View publication via DOI: DOI:10.1188/03.ONF.131-134

Plach, S.K., Heidrich, S.M., & Waite, R.M. (2003). The relationship of social role quality to psychological well-being in women with rheumatoid arthritis. Research in Nursing and Health, 26, 190-202.
View publication via DOI: DOI:10.1002/nur.10087

Lauver, D.R., Ward, S.E., Heidrich, S.M., Keller, M.L., Bowers, B.J., Brennan, P.F., Kirchhoff, K.T., & Wells, T.J. (2002). Patient-centered interventions. Research in Nursing and Health, 25(4), 246-255.
View publication via DOI: DOI:10.1002/nur.10044

Plach, S.K., & Heidrich, S.M. (2002). Role quality and well-being in women after heart surgery. Research in Nursing and Health, 25, 189-202.
View publication via DOI: DOI:10.1002/nur.10034

Plach, S.K., & Heidrich, S.M. (2001). Women's perceptions of their social roles after heart surgery and coronary angioplasty. Heart and Lung, 30, 117-127.

Leske, J.S., & Heidrich, S.M. (2001). Family responses to critical care of the elderly patient. In T.T. Fulmer, M.D. Freeman, & M. Walker (Eds.), Critical care nursing of the elderly (2nd Ed.). New York: Springer.

Nesbitt, B.J., & Heidrich, S.M. (2000). Sense of coherence and illness appraisal in older women's quality of life. Research in Nursing and Health, 23, 25-34.
View publication via DOI: DOI:10.1002/(SICI)1098-240X(200002)23:1<25::AID-NUR4>3.0.CO;2-M

Heidrich, S. M., Forsthoff, C. A., & Ward, S. E. (1999). Adjustment to cancer: The self as mediator. Reprinted in R.M. Suinn & G.R. VandenBos (Eds.), Cancer patients and their families. New York, NY: American Psychological Association.

Heidrich, S.M. (1999). Self-Discrepancy across the life span. Journal of Adult Development, 6, 119-130.
View publication via DOI: DOI:10.1023/A:1021672808948

Heidrich, S.M. (1998). Health promotion in old age. Annual Review of Nursing Research, 16, 173-195.

Heidrich, S.M. (1998). Older women's lives through time. Advances in Nursing Science, 20, 65-75.

Heidrich, S.M., & Ryff, C.D. (1993). The role of social comparison processes in the psychological adaptation of the elderly. Journal of Gerontology: Psychological Sciences, 48, 127-P136.
View publication via DOI: DOI:10.1093/geronj/48.3.P127

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