Scholarly Nurse Faculty Spotlight

Faculty Spotlight - Terrah Akard

Vanderbilt University School of Nursing faculty member Terrah Foster Akard, PhD, RN, FAAN, associate professor of nursing, is currently funded by the National Institute of Nursing Research for a project testing the impact of a legacy-making intervention on coping and adjustment in children (7-17 years-old) with refractory or relapsed cancer and their parents. The project is also examining the use of web-based recruitment, data collection and intervention delivery methods. 

Currently Funded R01

Impact of a PCRC-Supported Legacy Intervention in Pediatric Palliative Care


Akard is conducting a four-year study to recruit children with advanced or relapsed cancer via Facebook and test a web-based tool that helps children create stories about who they are. The overall results of her study will improve care, decrease suffering and long-term morbidity, and enhance life for children with advanced cancer and their parent caregivers. Preliminary data from Akard’s prior work show that face-to-face legacy-making interventions can improve coping and adjustment for children with cancer. She’s testing a web-based delivery method that could expand the impact and ultimately improve coping and adjustment for pediatric palliative care populations regardless of geographic location. Results will provide crucial information for future studies using web-based research methodologies to improve sample diversity, increase sample sizes, improve generalizability of results, and ultimately enhance rigor in pediatric palliative care research.

This grant is specifically targeted to children between 7 and 17 who have cancer that does not respond to treatment or who are dealing with a cancer relapse. It will also look at coping strategies for parents and caregivers.

The research is in partnership with the Palliative Care Research Cooperative (PCRC), and is supported by a $1.8 million grant from the National Institute of Nursing Research of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) under award number R01NR015353. 

Current Research/Scholarly Interests

  • Psychosocial interventions to reduce suffering and improve quality of life in pediatric palliative care populations
  • Relationships among continuing bonds, grief, and coping in bereaved families who experience the death of a child
  • Web-based recruitment and intervention delivery methods that are feasible, cost-effective, and acceptable to pediatric palliative care populations.