faculty profile

Sheila Ridner   PhD, RN, FAAN, MSN, MSHSA, BSN

Director, PhD in Nursing Science Program
Martha Rivers Ingram Professor


Dr. Sheila Ridner is the Martha Rivers Ingram Professor of Nursing at VUSN. She received her PhD in Nursing Science from Vanderbilt University in 2003 and completed her Postdoctoral Oncology Nursing Fellowship in 2005, also at Vanderbilt.
She received her Masters of Science in Nursing from Vanderbilt University in 2000, and her Masters of Health Services Administration from the College of St. Francis Graduate School in Joliet, Illinois in 1988. Her undergraduate degree was from the University of Kentucky in Lexington, Kentucky in 1978 and was a Bachelor of Science in Nursing.
Dr. Ridner has an extensive background in symptom management, oncology, psych/mental health and substance abuse, healthcare administration, and quality improvement.


  • Postdoctoral Oncology Fellowship, Vanderbilt University
  • PhD, Vanderbilt University (Nursing Science)
  • MSN, Vanderbilt University (Nursing)
  • MHSA, College of St. Francis Graduate School
  • BSN, University of Kentucky

Current Research/Scholarly Interests

Research interests include: symptom management, lymphedema in cancer survivors, psychological distress, expressive therapies, and physiological based volume measurement methods, and interventional studies.


Bioimpedance Spectroscopy (BIS) Device Formative Study Protocol. Funded by Impedimed, Brisbane, QLD, Australia. (Role: PI). Major Goal: To conduct Human Factors testing for a home measurement device that can measure body composition and lymphedema.

Promoting Adherence to Lymphedema Self-care in Breast Cancer Survivors. Funded by the American Cancer Society. (Role: PI) Major Goal: To conduct a two stage study to develop and evaluate a Web-based, multimedia intervention with a supplemental manual to address self-care deficits in breast cancer survivors with lymphedema.

A Randomized Trial Evaluating Bioimpedance Spectroscopy versus Tape Measurement in the Prevention of Lymphedema following Locoregional Treatment for Breast Cancer-Impedimed. Funded by Impedimed, Brisbane, QLD, Australia. (Role: PI) Major Goals: To determine if subclinical detection of extracellular fluid accumulation (lymphedema) via bioimpedance spectroscopy and subsequent early lymphedema intervention with a compression sleeve and gauntlet reduce the rate of lymphedema progression requiring Complete Decongestive Physiotherapy relative to rates seen using standard tape measurements.

A Biobehavioral Intergrative Intervention for Reducing Cancer-related Fatigue. Funded by National Institutes of Health (Role: Co-mentor)Major Goal: To determine if Yoga during chemotherapy improves fatigues in patients with colon cancer.

Establishing Lymphedema and Fibrosis Measures in Oral Cancer Patients. Funded by National Institutes of Health. (Role: Co-I) Major Goal: To develop a battery of measurement tools for lymphedema and fibrosis.

Imaging Lymphatic Function in Patients with Breast Cancer Related Lymphedema. Funded by National Institutes of Health. (Role: Co-I). Major Goal: To develop new imaging techniques for lymphedema.

Representative Publications


Ridner, S. H. (07/2014-06/2019). A Novel Method for Measuring Lymphatic Flow Using Principles of Spin Labeling MRI. NIH R01 To evaluate noninvasive structural and functional magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) methods to examine relationships between lymphatic compromise and imaging biomarkers.

Ridner, S. H., Bonner, C. M., Doersam, J. K., Rhoten, B. A., Schultze, B., & Dietrich, M. S. (2014; EPub ahead of print). Bioelectrical Impedance Self-Measurement Protocol Development and Daily Variation between Healthy Volunteers and Breast Cancer Survivors with Lymphedema. Lymphedema Research and Biology.

Rane, S., Donahue, P. M., Towse, T., Ridner, S. H., Chapell, M., Jordi, J. Gore, J. C., & Donahue, M. J. (2013) Clinical Feasibility of Noninvasive Visualization of Lymphatic Flow with Principles of Spin Labeling MR Imaging: Implications for Lymphedema Assessment. Radiology, 269(3), 893-902. doi: 10.1148/radiol.13120145

Deng, J., Fu, M., Armer, J., Cormier, J., Radina, E., Thiadens, S., Dietrich, M., Weiss, J., Tuppo, C., & Ridner, S. H. (2013). Factors associated with symptoms and infection occurrence among individuals with extremity lymphedema (MASCC-0027). Supportive Care in Cancer21(Suppl 1), S29.

Ridner, S. H., Poage-Hooper, E., Kanar, C., Doersham, J. K., Bond, S. M. & Dietrich, M.S. (2013). A pilot randomized trial evaluating low-level laser therapy as an alternative treatment to manual lymphatic drainage for breast cancer-related lymphedema. Oncol Nurs Forum, 40(4), 383-93. doi: 10.1188/13.ONF.383-393

Ridner, S. H. (2013). Pathophysiology of lymphedema. Seminars in Oncology Nursing, 29(1), 4-11. doi: 10.1016/j.soncn.2012.11.002

Deng, J., Ridner, S. H., Dietrich, M. S., Wells, N., Wallston, K. A., Sinard, R. J., Cmelak, A. J., & Murphy, B. A. (2012). Factors Associated with External and Internal Lymphedema in Patients with Head and Neck Cancer. International Journal of Radiation Oncology, Biology, Physics84(3), e319-28. doi: 10.1016/j.ijrobp.2012.04.013

Ridner, S. H., Deng, J., Fu, M. R., Radina, E., Thiadens, S. R. J., Weiss, J., Dietrich, M. S., Cormier, J. N., Tuppo, C. M., & Armer, J. M. (2012). Symptom burden and infection occurrence among individuals with extremity lymphedema. Lymphology,45(3), 113-123.

Deng, J., Murphy, B. A., Dietrich, M. S., Wells, N., Wallston, K. A., Sinard, R. J., Cmelak, A. J., Gilbert, J., & Ridner, S. H. (2012, EPub ahead of print). The Impact of Secondary Lymphedema after Head and Neck Cancer Treatment on Symptoms, Functional Status, and Quality of Life. Head & Neck. doi: 10.1002/hed.23084

Cooperstein, E., Gilbert, J., Epstein, J. B., Deitrich, M. S., Bond, S. M., Ridner, S. H., Wells, N., Cmelak, A., & Murphy, B. A. (2011). Vanderbilt Head and Neck Symptom Survey Version 2.0: Report of the development and initial testing of a subscale for assessment of oral health. Head and Neck. doi: 10.1002/hed.21816

Ridner, S. H., Murphy, B., Deng, J., Kidd, N., Galford, E., Bonner, C., Bond, S. M., & Dietrich, M. S. (2011). A randomized clinical trial comparing advanced pneumatic truncal, chest, and arm treatment to arm treatment only in self-care of arm lymphedema. Breast Cancer Research and Treatment. doi: 10.1007/s10549-011-1795-5

Ridner, S. H., Bonner, C. M., Deng, J., & Sinclair, V. (2011). Voices from the Shadows: Living with lymphedema. Cancer Nursing, 35(18), E18-26. doi: 10.1097/NCC.0b013e31821404c0

Montgomery, L. D., Dietrich, M. S., Armer, J. M., Stewart B. R., & Ridner, S. H. (2011). Segmental blood flow and hemodynamic state of lymphedematous and non-lymphedematous arms. Lymphatic Research and Biology, 9(1), 31-42. doi: 10.1089/lrb.2010.0012

Ridner, S. H., Dietrich, M. S., Stewart, B. R., & Armer, J. M. (2011). Body mass index and breast cancer treatment-related lymphedema. Supportive Care in Cancer, 19(6), 853-857. doi: 10.1007/s00520-011-1089-9

Ridner, S. H., Dietrich, M. S., & Kidd, N. (2011). Breast cancer treatment-related lymphedema self-care: Education, practices, symptoms, and quality of life. Supportive Care in Cancer, 19(5), 631-637. doi: 10.1007/s00520-010-0870-5

Ridner, S. H., Murphy, B., Deng, J., Kidd, N., Galford, E., & Dietrich, M. S. (2011). Advanced pneumatic therapy in self-care of chronic lymphedema of the trunk. Lymphatic Research and Biology, 8(4), 209-215. doi:10.1089/lrb.2010.0010
Murphy, B. A., Dietrich, M. S., Wells, N., Dwyer, K., Ridner, S. H., Silver, H. J., Gilbert, J., Chung, C. H., Cmelak, A., Burkey, B., Yarborough, W. G., Sinard, R., & Netterville, J. (2010). Reliability and validity for the Vanderbilt Head and Neck Symptom Survey (VHNSS): A new tool to assess symptom burden in patients undergoing chemoradiation. Head and Neck32(1), 26-37. doi: 10.1002/hed.21143

Shih, Y. C., Xu, Y., Cormier, J. N., Giordano, S., Ridner, S. H., Buchholz, T. A., Perkins, G. H., & Elting, L. S. (2009). Incidence, treatment costs, and complications of lymphedema after breast cancer among women of working age: A two-year follow-up study. Journal of Clinical Oncology, 27(12), 2007-2014. doi: 10.1200/JCO.2008.18.3517

Ridner, S. H., Dietrich, M. S., Deng, J., Bonner, C. M., & Kidd, N. (2009). Bioelectrical impedance for detecting upper limb lymphedema in nonlaboratory settings. Lymphatic Research and Biology, 7(1), 11-15. doi: 10.1089/lrb.2008.1003

Piller, N., Keeley, V., Ryan, T., Hayes, S., & Ridner, S. H. (2009). Early detection: A strategy to reduce risk and severity?Journal of Lymphoedema, 4(1), 89-95.

Ridner, S. H. & Dietrich, M. S. (2008). Self-reported comorbid conditions and medication usage in breast cancer survivors with and without lymphedema. Oncology Nursing Forum, 35(1), 57-63. doi: 10.1188/08.ONF.57-63

Ridner, S. H., Montgomery, L. D., Hepworth, J. T., Stewart, B. R., & Armer, J. M. (2007). Comparison of upper limb volume measurement techniques and arm symptoms between healthy volunteers and individuals with known lymphedema.Lymphology, 40(1), 35-46. PMID: 17539463

Murphy, B. A., Gilbert, J., Cmelak, A., & Ridner, S. H. (2007). Symptom control issues and supportive care of patients with head and neck cancers. Clinical Advances in Hematology and Oncology, 5(10), 807-822. PMID: 17998898

Ridner, S. H. (2006). Pretreatment lymphedema education and identified educational resources in breast cancer patients.Patient Education and Counseling, 61(1), 72-79. doi: 10.1016/j.pec.2005.02.009, PMID: 16533679

Ridner, S. H. (2005). Quality of life and a symptom cluster associated with breast cancer treatment-related lymphedema.Supportive Care in Cancer, 13(11), 904-911. doi: 10.1007/s00520-005-0810-y

Ridner, S. H. (2004). Psychological distress: Concept analysis. Journal of Advanced Nursing, 45(5), 536-545. doi: 10.1046/j.1365-2648.2003.02938

Carpenter, J. S., Elam, J. L., Ridner, S. H., Carney, P. H., Cherry, G. J., & Cucullu, H. L. (2004). Sleep, fatigue, and depressive symptoms in breast cancer survivors and matched healthy women experiencing hot flashes. Oncology Nursing Forum, 31(3), 591-598. doi: 10.1188/04.ONF.591-598

Professional Organizations

  • LE & RN (board member), 2005-Present
  • National Lymphedema Network Research Committee, 2003-Present
  • National Lymphedema Network Research Committee Chair, 2010
  • National Lymphedema Network Medical Advisory Committee, 2004-Present
  • Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center - Pain and Symptom Management Research Team, 2000-Present
  • Oncology Nursing Society, 2000 - Present