Dr. Dianne Morrison-Beedy, scientist and nurse practitioner, launched Niagara University’s October Speaker Series on Thursday, Oct. 10, 2019, at the university’s Castellani Art Museum with a discussion on moving healthcare interventions into clinical practice settings. Using her highly accredited “Health Improvement Project for Teens” research project as an example, Dr. Morrison-Beedy detailed the steps she took to bring the project into clinics and, eventually, turn it into a business.
This presentation was sponsored by the annual Hughes Endowed Lectureship in the Health Sciences, which recognizes individuals who have made outstanding contributions to the health sciences or healthcare. Dr. Morrison-Beedy is the centennial professor of nursing and chief talent and global strategy officer at Ohio State University. She graduated from Niagara University’s College of Nursing in 1980.
Dr. Morrison-Beedy’s project, “HIP Teens,” is the result of decades of dedication to research about women’s sexual health and reducing HIV and STIs in adolescent girls. Her intervention is evidence-based and internationally recognized, received $12 million in research funds, and has changed thousands of young girls' lives.
As a nurse practitioner working with young teenage girls, Dr. Morrison-Beedy realized that she could advise her patients about sexual risks and risky behavior, but they wouldn’t necessarily follow her advice. This sparked the development of her research program to investigate the effectiveness of skill building and motivation interventions, rather than just providing information.
“That’s why we do research, we think we know, but we really don’t,” said Dr. Morrison-Beedy.
The data collection for her study included knowing the participants’ sexual activity prior to the study and performing quarterly checks over a one-year span to monitor behavior change in the girls. The study participant demographic was 738 girls aged 15-19, 70% being African American and 70% economically disadvantaged. Her research study reported significant changes in risky behaviors among the participants, which included, but was not limited to, fewer episodes of unsafe intercourse, fewer sexual partners, and fewer unintended pregnancies.
Dr. Morrison-Beedy expressed that she faced many challenges during her research, but none of it stopped her from keeping the project alive, or from transitioning it into a business. HIP Teens, which has been implemented in schools in New York, Wisconsin, North and South Carolina, and Florida, puts girls in a supportive setting of their peers, who do activities and are educated in their sexual decisions through positivity and reform. In the near future, schools in Canada, Ghana, and the UK will have HIP Teen programs implemented, as well.
“It’s about giving them choices and building on positives, with reducing risk along the way,” said Dr. Morrison-Beedy. “It’s not about telling them to not do these things.”