faculty profile

Vaughn G. Sinclair   PhD, PMHCNS-BC



Dr. Vaughn Sinclair worked as a pediatric nurse at Vanderbilt Children's Hospital for several years before joining the VUSN faculty in 1982 to teach pediatric nursing. She developed one of the first courses on nursing informatics in 1984. In 1997, she obtained a post-master's in psych mental-health nursing and started a private practice in psychotherapy. For the past two decades, she has been involved in teaching psych-mental health specialty students and doctoral students. She has published instruments that measure resilient coping and its antithesis, psychological vulnerability. Her research studies have focused on developing interventions that build resilient coping skills in patients with chronic illness.


  • Post Masters in Psych-Mental Health Nursing, Vanderbilt University
  • Doctorate of Philosophy in Higher Education Administration, George Peabody College, Vanderbilt University 
  • MSN (Family Nurse Clinician), Vanderbilt University 
  • BS in Nursing, Vanderbilt University

Current Research/Scholarly Interests

Dr. Sinclair's research interests focus on the processes involved in resilient coping and psychological vulnerability in patient populations with chronic illness. She has developed and published scales on psychological vulnerability and resilient coping with her colleague, Dr. Ken Wallston. Their four-item Brief Resilient Coping Scale has been translated into multiple languages and twin study data has demonstrated its association with a genetic phenotype, indicating it is measuring resilience as a trait. Her current scholarly interests focus on continued development of interventions that promote adaptive coping in all its forms, including resilient coping. With funding from the Arthritis Foundation and National Multiple Sclerosis Society, she has developed, implemented, and evaluated interventions designed to enhance coping skills and build resilience in women with chronic autoimmune illnesses, specifically rheumatoid arthritis and multiple sclerosis. With Dr. Sheila Ridner, she is currently working on a research grant funded by the American Cancer Society to develop a Web-based multimedia intervention to help women cope with lymphedema related to breast cancer treatment.

Academic Interests

Dr. Sinclair teaches in the psych-mental health masters specialty and the doctoral program. She has served on a number of dissertation committees.

Current Projects

Multi-media Web-based Intervention Development

  • Ridner, S.H., Sinclair, V.G., & Adair, M. (2014). Lymphedema Online Resource Access (LORA). Interactive multi-media Web-based learning product for patients with upper limb lymphedema. Funded by American Cancer Society.

Instrument Development and Uptake

  • Brief Resilient Coping Scale (4-items; internal consistency .75); translated into Spanish, German, French, Portuguese, Italian, Danish, Urdu, Japanese, and Chinese. As of August 2016, there are 13 data-based publications using this scale in PubMed, primarily conducted in the U.S., Germany, and Spain.
  • Psychological Vulnerability Scale (6 items; internal consistency .85); translated into Spanish, Portuguese, Urdu, and Turkish. As of August 2016, there are 5 data-based publications using this scale in PubMed.


Promoting Adherence to Lymphedema Self-care in Breast Cancer Survivors. Funded by the American Cancer Society. (Role: Co-PI with Ridner, S.H.) 2013-2017

Beyond Cancer: Fostering Transitions Post-Treatment. Funded by the National Cancer Institute. 1 R21 CA100120-01. (Role: Co-PI with Dwyer, Kathleen) 2003-05

Living with Cancer: Evaluation and refinement of a model. Funded by the National Institute of Nursing Research. 1 R01 NR/CA07769-01A1. (Role: Co-PI with Dwyer, Kathleen) 2002-2005

Effects of a Cognitive-Behavioral Intervention for Women with Multiple Sclerosis. Funded by the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. (Role: PI) 2002-2003

Mastery Effectiveness Training for Persons with Rheumatoid Arthritis. Funded by the Arthritis Foundation Clinical Science Award. (Role: Co-PI with Wallston, K.A.) 1992-1996

Representative Publications


Sinclair, V.G., Adams, S., & Dietrich, M.  (In press).  Associations between changes in resilient coping and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms.  Research in Nursing & Health.

Ridner, S.H., Dietrich, M.S., Davis, A.J., & Sinclair, V.  (2019).  A randomized clinical trial comparing the impact of a Web-based multimedia intervention versus an educational pamphlet on patient outcomes in breast cancer survivors with chronic secondary lymphedema.  J Womens Health, July 17.  DOI:  10.1089/wh.2019.7676

Hamrin, V., Sinclair, V.G., & Gardner, V.S. (2017). Theoretical approaches to enhancing motivation for adherence to antidepressant medications. Archives Psychiatric Nursing, 31 (2), 223-230.  doi: 10.1016/j.apnu.2016.09.004.

Lopez-Pina, J.A., Meseguer-Henarejos, A.B., Gascon-Canovas, J.J., Navarro-Villalba, D.J., Sinclair, V.G., & Wallston, K.A. (2016.) Measurement properties of the Brief Resilient Coping Scale in patients with Systemic Lupus Erythematosus using Rasch analysis. Health & Quality of Life Outcomes, 14 (1), 128.   doi: 10.1186/s12955-016-0534-3.

Sinclair, V. G., Strachan, E., & Wallston, K. A. (2016) Resilient coping moderates the effect of trauma exposure on depression. Research in Nursing & Health, 39 (4), 244-52.

Ridner, S. H., Rhoten, B. A., Radina, M. E., Adair, M., & Sinclair, V. (2016). Breast cancer survivors' perspectives of critical lymphedema self-care support needs. Supportive Care in Cancer, June, 24 (6), 2743-2750.

Rhoten, B., Radina, E., Adair, M., Sinclair, V. G., & Ridner, S. H. (2015). Hide and Seek: Body image-related issues for breast cancer survivors with lymphedema. Journal of Women's Health, 4 (2). 

Limonero, J.T., Tomas-Sabado, J., Gomez-Romero, M.J., Mate-Mendez, J., Sinclair, V.G., Wallston, K.A., & Gomez-Benito, J. (2014). Evidence for validity of the Brief Resilient Coping Scale in a young Spanish sample. Spanish Journal of Psychology17, 34, 1-9.

Ridner, S.H., Sinclair, V.G., Deng, J., Bonner, C.M., Kidd, N.,  & Dietrich, M.S. (2012).  Breast cancer survivors with lymphedema: Glimpses of our daily lives. Clinical Journal of Oncology Nursing, 16(6): 609-14.

Ridner, S. H., Bonner, C. M., Deng J., Sinclair, V. (2012). Voices from the Shadows: Living with lymphedema. Cancer Nursing, 35 (1), 18-26.

Sinclair, V.G., & Wallston, K.A. (2010). Psychological vulnerability predicts depressive symptoms in individuals with rheumatoid arthritis. Nursing Research,. 59(2):140-6.

Sinclair, V.G. & Blackburn, D. (2008). Adaptive Coping with Rheumatoid Arthritis: The Transforming Nature of Response Shift. Chronic Illness, 4, 219-230.

Sinclair, V.G., & Dowdy, S.W. (2006). The development and validation of the Emotional Intimacy Scale. Journal of Nursing Measurement13 (3). 193-206.

Sinclair, V.G., & Scroggie, J. (2005). The effects of a cognitive-behavioral program for women with MS. Journal of Neuroscience Nursing, 37 (5), 249-257.

Sinclair, V.G., & Wallston, K.A. (2004) The development and psychometric evaluation of the Brief Resilient Coping Scale. Assessment, 11 (1),94-101.

Sinclair, V.G. (2001). Predictors of pain catastrophizing in women with rheumatoid arthritis. Archives of Psychiatric Nursing., 15 (6), 279-288.

Sinclair, V.G., & Wallston, K.A. (2001). Predictors of improvement in a cognitive-behavioral intervention for women with rheumatoid arthritis. Annals of Behavioral Medicine. , 23 (4), 291-7.

Sinclair, V.G., & Wallston, K.A. (1999). The development and validation of the Psychological Vulnerability Scale. Cognitive Therapy and Research, 23 (2), 119-129.

Sinclair, V.G., Wallston, K.A., Dwyer, K.A., Blackburn, D.S., & Fuchs, H. (1998). Effects of a cognitive-behavioral intervention for women with rheumatoid arthritis. Research in Nursing & Health., 21, 315-326.


Scientific Review Panel

  • Nursing Research, 2013

Standing Peer Reviewer

  • Nursing Research, 2011-2013
  • Cancer Nursing: International Journal for Cancer Care, 2015, 2016

Professional Organizations

  • Sigma Theta Tau - Iota Chapter
  • Society of Behavioral Medicine
  • American Nurses' Association


  • Invited Contributor: Nursing Informatics Archives at the National Library of Medicine, 2006
  • VUSN Teaching Award for Excellence in Teaching, 2003