Dr. Alison Holman, Associate Professor at the UC Irvine Sue & Bill Gross School of Nursing, was recently elected to the Academy of Behavioral Medicine Research (ABMR), in recognition of her robust program of research focused on understanding the interface between mental and physical health consequences from exposure to trauma. As both a health psychologist and a nurse, Dr. Holman has a unique approach to health and wellness, and has spent her career looking at both mental and physical health effects of acute stress, particularly in terms of cardiovascular disease (CVD).
“Right now, my work is focused on stress and trauma of a variety of types, including both direct and indirect exposure to trauma,” says Dr. Holman. “A prime example is the recent shooting in New Zealand. The media is being used more and more as a mechanism to spread terror, and unfortunately this kind of indirect exposure to trauma can affect people’s mental and physical health. A large body of my work after 9/11, and after the Boston Marathon [bombing], was to try and understand how media exposure is associated with people’s responses psychologically and physically. I think we need to, as scientists, make sure that people understand the potential negative consequences of too much media disseminated live, over and over and over.”
Dr. Holman’s election to the Academy of Behavioral Medicine Research is significant for a number of reasons. It’s a recognition of her remarkable research career, and part of a larger trend acknowledging the importance of nursing science in behavioral medicine research. “ABMR was originally founded in 1978 to bring together scientists from a variety of disciplines to better understand the behavioral aspects of health and illness,” says Dr. Holman. “Nursing by definition is inherently an interdisciplinary science. If you look at the work that nurse researchers do, a lot of it is biopsychosocial.” For this reason, Dr. Holman believes that nursing science naturally belongs at the forefront of interdisciplinary medical research among other sciences. “I believe nursing research needs to be published in journals that would reach a broad interdisciplinary audience,” says Holman. “Integrative health is getting more attention these days, and nursing has a lot to offer in the field of integrative health. My message to students is: ‘Never, ever underestimate the power of your experience working with patients, and what nurses have to offer. Nursing brings to health research a valuable and unique perspective born of hours and hours at the bedside working with patients compared with the perspectives of other health professionals.’”