faculty profile

Cathy Maxwell   PhD, RN, FAAN

Assistant Professor


Dr. Maxwell's research is directed at understanding outcome trajectories of older adults after physical injury, and development and implementation of interventions to facilitate patient-centered, post-injury care. Dr. Maxwell's identification of the high prevalence of physical frailty among injured older adults led to a study that determined the influence of pre-injury cognition and functional status on one-year outcomes (functional decline, mortality, and readmissions). Dr. Maxwell is interested in interventions with a nursing focus to help older adults understand what is happening to their bodies as they age, so that they can make informed decisions that improve quality of life.

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

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Cathy Maxwell
Vanderbilt University School of Nursing
461 21st Ave. S., 420 Godchaux Hall
Nashville, TN 37240


Principal Investigator, Vanderbilt Faculty Research Scholar Award (K12- Career Development Award). A Frailty Communication Aid for Hospitalized Injured Older Adults, 7/2016 - 6/2019

Principal Investigator, Vanderbilt CTSA grant UIITR000445 from NCATS/NIH: Introducing Early Geriatric Palliative Care to Patients and Family Caregivers, 12/15/2015 - 2017

Principal Investigator, Vanderbilt CTSA grant UllTR000445 from NCATS/NIH: The Impact of Hospitalized Inured Older Adults' Pre-injury Impairments on Post-injury Mobilization and Outcomes, 9/2013 - 8/2015

Principal Investigator, Vanderbilt University School of Nursing PhD Student Research Award: Administratively-mediated Variables and Outcomes of Hospitalized Injured Older Adults, 09/2011 - 12/2011

Representative Publications


Parish, A., Kim, J., Lewallen, K.M., Miller, S., Myers, J., Panepinto, R., Maxwell, C.A. Knowledge and perceptions about aging and frailty: An integrative review of the literature.

Wang, J., Dietrich, M.S., Bell, S.P., Maxwell, C.A., Simmons, S.F., Kripalani, S. A prospective study on changes in vulnerability among older adults after hospital discharge: Does post-acute home health make a difference?

Wang, J., Simmons, S.F., Maxwell, C.A., Schlundt, D.G., Mion, L.C. Home health nurses' perspectives and care processes related to frailty and depression: A mixed methods pilot study.

Maxwell, C.A., Dietrich, M.S., Miller, R.S. The FRAIL Scale: A useful tool for bedside screening of geriatric trauma patients.

Stolldorf D.P., Dietrich, M.S., Chidume, T., McIntosh, M., Maxwell, C.A. Nurse-led mobilization practices in two community ICUs.

Published/In Press:
Wang, J., Maxwell, C.A., Yu, F. (accepted for publication) Biological processes and biomarkers related to frailty in older adults: A state-of-the-science review. Biological Research for Nursing.

Jeffrey, AD, Dietrich, MS, Maxwell, CA. (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), 349-61.

Karlekar, M.B., Miller, R.S., Dietrich, M.S., Maxwell, C.A. (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), 193-96.

Cooper, Z., Maxwell, CA, Fakhry, S., Joseph, B., Lundejberg, N., Burke, P., Baracco, R. (2017) A 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), 419-22.

Javier, A, Figueroa, R, Siew ED, Salat, H, Morse, J, Stewart, TG, Malhotra, R, Jhamb, M, Schell, JO, Cardona, CY, Maxwell, CA, Ikizler, 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.

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. (2015). Trauma in the geriatric population. Critical Care Nursing Clinics of North America, 27(2), 183-97.

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, 63(7), 1443-7.

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.

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., Mion, L.C., Dietrich, M.S., Fallon, W.F., Minnick, A. (2014). Hospitals' adoption of targeted cognitive and functional status quality indicators for vulnerable elders. Journal of Nursing Care Quality, 29(4), 354-362.

Maxwell, C.A. (2014). Availability of selected Institute of Medicine recommendations for geriatric care in hospitals providing care to injured older adults. Geriatric Nursing, 35 (2 Suppl): S27-31.

Maxwell, C.A. (2013). Screening hospitalized injured older adults for cognitive impairment and pre-injury functional impairment. Applied Nursing Research, 26(3), 146-150.

Maxwell, C.A., Mion, L.C., Minnick, A. (2013). Geriatric resources in acute care hospitals and trauma centers: A scarce commodity. Journal of Gerontological Nursing, 39(12), 33-42.

Maxwell, C.A., Mion, L.C., & Dietrich, M.S. (2012). Hospitalized injured older adults: Clinical utility of a rib fracture scoring system. Journal of Trauma Nursing, 19(3), 167-173.

Krau, S.D., Maxwell, C.A., & Thibeau, S. (2011). Creating a tool to evaluate patient performance. Nursing Clinics of North America, 46: 351-365.

Maxwell, C.A. & Mion, L.C. (2011). Hospitalized injured older adults: A 21st century challenge. Geriatric Nursing, 32(2), 130-132.

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

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

Maxwell, C.A., Mixon, A., Conner, E., Phillippi, J. (May 2018).Aging, frailty, and injury: Delivery of prognostic information to older adults and caregivers. (abstract accepted for oral presentation at World Research Congress of the European Association for Palliative Care) (Bern, Switzerland)

Maxwell, C.A. (March 2018) Geriatric Trauma: Frailty and Palliative Care (Preconference) Society of Trauma Nurses Annual Trauma Conference (Portland, OR)

Maxwell, C.A. (November 2017) Frailty: Why So Important? Lehigh Valley Medical Center Annual Trauma Conference (Allentown, PA)

Maxwell, C.A. (October 2017). Frailty: More Than Just the Dwindles- Geronotological Advanced Practice Nurses Association Annual Meeting (Nashville, TN)

Maxwell, C.A. (September 2017). Aging and Frailty: Interventions. Geriatrics and Gerontology Interest Group. Vanderbilt School of Medicine, Department of Medicine, Division of Internal Medicine and Public Health, Vanderbilt Center for Quality Aging, Vanderbilt-Reynolds Geriatrics Education Center, Meharry-consortium Geriatric Education Center and Tennessee Valley GRECC.

Maxwell, C.A. (September 2017). Development of a Frailty Communication Aid for Older Adults. Tennessee Nurses Association Annual Meeting (Murfreesboro, TN)

Maxwell, C.A. (May 20, 2017) GeriTraC- Creating Best Practice Guidelines and Standards for Older Adult Trauma Patients. Annual Scientific Meeting- American Geriatrics Society (San Antonio)

Maxwell, C.A., Karlekar, M., Miller, R.S. (April 27, 2017) Geriatric Trauma and Frailty: Initiatives at a Level I Trauma Center. Oral presentation at International Conference of Frailty and Sarcopenia Research. (Barcelona, Spain)

Maxwell, C.A. (November 2016). Aging, Injury and Frailty. Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation Grand Rounds- Vanderbilt University Medical Center

Maxwell, C.A. (October 2016). Frailty and Aging: Why So Important? Vanderbilt University School of Nursing Alumni Day. (VUSN, Nashville, TN)

Maxwell, C.A., Dietrich, M.S., Miller, R.S. (September 2016). The FRAIL Scale: A Useful Tool for Bedside Screening of Geriatric Trauma Patients. American Association for the Surgery of Trauma Annual Meeting (Waikoloa, HI)

Maxwell, C.A. (August 2016). Frailty and Injured Older Adults. Palliative Care Journal Club- Vanderbilt University Medical Center Palliative Care Services

Maxwell, C.A. (June 2016). Aging and Injury: Important Things to Know. Vanderbilt University Medical Center- Geriatric Lunch and Learn

Maxwell, C.A. (March 2016). Mentors and Mentees. N8311: Role of Scientist in Academe, Community, and World. (VUSN, Nashville, TN)

Hobt-Bingham, T., Miller, R.S., Karlekar, M., Maxwell, C.A. (March 31, 2016). Improving Palliative Care Consultation in a Trauma ICU and Stepdown Unit. Society of Trauma Nurses Annual Meeting (Anaheim, CA)

Karlekar, M., Miller, R.S., Maxwell, C.A. (March 11, 2016). Upstream Palliative Care in a Busy Trauma Center Triggered by Application of an Objective Validated Frailty Scale. (Panel presentation- concurrent session). American Association of Hospice and Palliative Care Medicine Annual Meeting. (Chicago, IL)

Maxwell, C.A. (February 2016). Aging, Frailty and Injury in Older Adults. Vanderbilt Geriatric and Gerontology Interest Group (GGIG). Lunchtime Lecture Series. (Nashville, TN)

Maxwell, C.A. (January 2016). Frailty and Advancing Age. N6236: Advanced Concepts in the Care of the Elderly. (VUSN, Nashville, TN)

Professional Organizations

  • Expert Panel appointment: Best Practice Guidelines for End-of-Life Care- American College of Surgeons (ACS) Trauma Quality Improvement Program, 2016-2017
  • Member, Palliative Care Research Cooperative, 2016-present
  • Appointment, American Association for the Surgery of Trauma, Geriatric Trauma Coalition (Representing Society of Trauma Nurses), 2015-present
  • Member, American Nurses Association/Tennessee Nurses Association, 2015-present
  • Member, Hospice and Palliative Nurses Association, 2015-present
  • Member, Middle Tennessee Fall Prevention Coalition, 2013-present
  • Member, American Geriatrics Society, 2013-present
  • Member, Council for the Advancement of Nursing Science, 2012-present
  • Member, Academy Health, 2010-present
  • Member, Southern Nursing Research Society, 2010-present
  • Member, Gerontological Society of America, 2008-present
  • Member, Membership Committee, Expert Panel, Society of Trauma Nurses, 2008-present
  • Member, Sigma Theta Tau International, 2005-present


  • Innovation Award- National Harford Center of Gerontological Nursing Excellence- San Francisco- (National Leadership Conference, July 22), 2017
  • Induction into Hall of Honor- Georgia Baptist College of Nursing at Mercer University- Atlanta (October 21, 2016), 2016
  • Rising Investigator Award in Aging Research- Southern Nursing Research Society- Williamsburg, VA (February 24-27, 2016)
  • Expert Panel appointment: Best Practice Guidelines for End-of-Life Care- American College of Surgeons (ACS) Trauma Quality Improvement Program, 2016
  • Best Performance Improvement Abstract, ACS- Trauma Quality Improvement Program Annual Scientific Meeting (Nov. 15-17, 2015)
  • Geriatric Trauma Coalition (appointment): American Association for the Surgery of Trauma, 2015-Present
  • National Institute on Aging- Butler-Williams Scholars Program, Washington, DC (August 2014)
  • Best Overall Abstract, Society of Trauma Nurses Annual Meeting, San Antonia, TX (March 2011)
  • Best Graduate Research Scholar Award for trauma research, Troy University, Troy, AL (May 2007)