faculty profile

Cathy Maxwell   PhD, RN, FAAN



Dr. Maxwell's research is directed at understanding outcome trajectories of older adults related to functional decline and frailty. Dr. Maxwell has examined outcomes in relationship to older adults' frailty status and reported one-year outcomes of older adults hospitalized for an injury (falls), including functional decline, readmissions to acute care and mortality. Most recently, Dr. Maxwell developed an educational tool for older adults to facility their understanding of the concept of frailty and to encourage proactive management of their personal trajectories of aging. She is interested in interventions with a nursing focus that empower older adults to engage in behaviors that enhance well-being and improve quality of life.

Download a free pdf copy of Aging: Important Things to Know by Cathy Maxwell, PhD, RN, FAAN.


2020-2021. Maxwell, CA (PI), Elrod, B. Aging and Frailty: Resilience and Energy in the Second Half of Life (AFRESH-C). West End Home Foundation (Nashville, TN)

2019-2020. Maxwell, CA (PI), Coogan, A (Co-I). Frailty-focused Communication (FCOM) for Advance Care Planning among Diverse Older Adults. Vanderbilt Medical School Research Immersion Program

2019-2020. Miller, S (PI) & Maxwell, CA (Co-I). A Multi-modal Educational Workshop to Teach Effective Frailty-Focused Healthcare Communication.  Vanderbilt Center for Health Communication.

2016-2019. Maxwell, CA (PI). A Frailty-Focused Communication Aid for Older Adults. Vanderbilt Faculty Research Scholar Award). July 2016 - June 2019.

2016. Maxwell, CA (PI). Introducing Early Geriatric Palliative Care to Patients and Family Caregivers. (CTSA UIIR000445) (March-December 2016)

2013-2015. Maxwell, CA (PI). The Impact of Hospitalized Injured Older Adults Pre-injury Impairments on Post-Injury Mobilization and Outcomes.  (Postdoctoral research funding, CTSA UIIR000445) (October 2013- April 2015)

Representative Publications


Werthman, J.A., Maxwell, C.A., Dietrich, M.S., Jordan, L.M., Minnick, A.F. Moderate sedation education for nurses in interventional radiology to promote patient safety: Results of a national survey. Journal of Radiology Nursing (accepted for publication October 2020)

Maxwell, C.A., Ridner, S., Rothman, R.L., Simmons, S.F., Dietrich, M.S., Miller, R.S., Patel, M.B., Karlekar, M.B., Wolever, R. Development and testing of a frailty-focused communication (FCOM) aid for older adults. Geriatric Nursing, (Online ahead of print- July 21, 2020)

Boon, J., Maxwell, C.A. Policy opportunities to support family caregivers managing pain in people with dementia. Pain Management Nursing (Online ahead of print- July 17, 2020)

Maxwell, C.A., Mixon, A.S., Conner, E., Phillippi, J. (2020) Receptivity of hospitalized older adults and family caregivers to prognostic information about aging, injury, and frailty. International J of Nursing Studies, (Online ahead of print May 22, 2020)

Frechman, E, Dietrich, M.S., Walden, R., Maxwell, C.A. (2020) Exploring the uptake of advance care planning in older adults: An integrative review. Journal of Pain and Symptom Management, Jul 6; 60(6): 1208-1222.

Werthman, J, Dietrich, MS, Maxwell, CA, Jordan, LM, Minnick, AF. (2020) The administration of moderate sedation and the role of the radiology nurse. J Radiology Nursing, 39(2), 92-98.

Wang, J., Dietrich, M.S., Bell, S.P., Maxwell, C.A., Simmons, S.F., Kripalani, S. (2019) Change in vulnerability among older adults after hospital discharge: Does home health make a difference? BMJ Open, Jan 29; 9(1): e024766

Wang, J., Maxwell, C.A., Yu, F. (2019) Biological processes and biomarkers related to frailty in older adults: A state-of-art literature review. Biological Research for Nursing, 21(1), 80-106.

Maxwell, C.A., Patel, M.B., Suarez-Rodriquez, L.C., Miller, R.S. (2019) Frailty and prognostication in geriatric surgery and trauma. Clinics of Geriatric Medicine, 35(1), 13-26

Stolldorf, D.P., Dietrich, M.S., Chidume, T., McIntosh, M., Maxwell, C.A. (2018) Nurse-initiated mobilization practices in 2 community intensive care units: A pilot study. Dimensions of Critical Care Nursing, 37/(6), 318-323.

Parish, A., Kim, J., Lewallen, K.M., Miller, S., Myers, J., Panepinto, R., Maxwell, C.A.  (2018) Knowledge and perceptions about aging and frailty: An integrative review of the literature. Geriatric Nursing, 40(1): 13-24.

Wang, J., Simmons, S.F., Maxwell, C.A., Schlundt, D.G., Mion, L.C. (2018) Home health nurses' perspectives and care processes related to frailty and depression: A mixed methods pilot study. Journal of Community Health Nursing, 35(3), 118-136.. 

Maxwell, C.A. Dietrich, M.S., Miller, R.S. (2018) The FRAIL Scale: A useful tool for bedside screening of geriatric trauma patients. Journal of Trauma Nursing, 25(4), 242-247.  

Jeffrey, A., Dietrich, M.S., Maxwell, C.A. (2018) Predicting 1-Year disability and mortality of injured older adults. Archives of Gerontology and Geriatrics, 75: 191-96.

Maxwell, C.A. & Wang, J. (2017) Understanding frailty: A nurse's guide. Nursing Clinics of North America, 52(3), 349-361.

Javier, A., Figueroa, R., Siew, E., Salat, H., Morse, J., Stewart, T., Malhotra, R., Schell, J., Jhamb, M., Cardona, C., Maxwell, C.A., Ikizler, T.A., Abdel-Kader, K. (2017) Reliability and utility of the surprise question in chronic kidney disease stage 4 to 5. American Journal of Kidney Diseases, 70(1), 93-101

Cooper, Z., Maxwell, C.A., Fakhry, S., Joseph, B., Lundebjerg, N., Burke, P., Baracco, R.A. (2017) Position Paper: The convergence of aging and injury: The need for a geriatric trauma coalition (GeriTraC). Journal of Trauma and Acute Care Surgery, 82(2), 419-422.

Karlekar, M.B., Maxwell, C.A., Dietrich, M.S., Miller, R.S. (2017) Creating new opportunities to educate families on the impact of frailty and cognitive impairment in a trauma intensive care unit: results of a quality improvement project. Journal of Palliative Medicine, 20(2), 193-196.

Maxwell, C.A., Mion, L.C., Mukherjee, K., Dietrich, M.S., Minnick, A., May, A., Miller, R.S. (2016). Pre-injury physical frailty and cognitive impairment among geriatric trauma patients determines post-injury functional recovery and survival. Journal of Trauma and Acute Care Surgery, 80(2), 195-203.

Maxwell, C.A., Mion, L.C. (2015). Geriatric Trauma: An opportunity for proactive palliative care. Geriatric Nursing, 36(6), 475-6.

Maxwell, C.A., Dietrich, M.S., Mion, L.C., Minnick, A. (2015). Pre-injury physical function of injured older adults: patient versus proxy responses. Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, JAGS, 63(7), 1443-7.

Maxwell, C.A., Miller, R.S., Dietrich, M.S., Fallon, W.F., Mion, L.C., Minnick, A. (2015). The aging of America: A comprehensive look at over 25,000 geriatric trauma admissions to U.S. hospitals. American Surgeon, 81(6): 630-6.

Maxwell, C.A. (2015). Trauma in the geriatric population. In edition on Violence, War, and Traumatic Injury. Critical Care Nursing Clinics of North America, 27: 183-97.

Maxwell, C.A., Mion, L.C., Mukherjee, K., Dietrich, M.S., Minnick, A., May, A., Miller, R.S. (2015). Feasibility of screening for pre-injury frailty in hospitalized injured older adults. Journal of Trauma and Acute Care Surgery, 78(4): 844-51.

Book Chapters

Maxwell, C.A. (2017). Nursing considerations in general evaluation, risk management, and goals of care. In Rodriguez, A., Barraco, R., Ivatury, R.R. (Eds.) Geriatric Trauma and Acute Care Surgery, New York: Springer, ISBN: 3319574027, 9783319574028

Maxwell, C.A., Rader, E., Fallon, W.F. (2013). Outcomes for surgical care in the elderly. In Yellon, J.A. & Luchette, F.A. (Eds.) Geriatric Trauma, New York: Springer, ISBN-10: 1461485002.

Representative Presentations

Professional Organizations


  • VUSN Dean?s Award for Recognition of Faculty Achievement in Media, 2021