Rebecca Dekker, PhD, RN, APRN, received her Master of Science in Nursing and her Doctor of Philosophy in Nursing from the University of Kentucky. She earned a Bachelor of Science in Nursing from Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Michigan.
Dr. Dekker has built a strong reputation in maternal and infant health circles for her pioneering work as the founder of Evidence Based Birth.® The mission of Evidence Based Birth® is to promote evidence based care by putting the research evidence about childbirth into the hands of families and professionals, helping change maternity care from the inside out.
Dr. Dekker serves as a peer reviewer for maternal health research journals, volunteers on the advisory boards for Improving Birth and DONA International, and has presented to a number of leading organizations in the childbirth field, including the American College of Nurse Midwives, the March of Dimes, Lamaze, and DONA International.
What I’ve been working on:
From 2013 to the present, I have been applying my extensive clinical research skills and expertise towards maternal health. I have a strong record of using social media to recruit large samples for maternal health research. In 2014, I completed a study on evidence based maternity care and how women are using social media to find evidence based information about childbirth (currently in press as of May 2016). I also served as co-principal investigator on a prospective study (Edwards et al. 2014 and 2015) to determine the effects of a grassroots awareness campaign on consumer awareness about evidence based maternity care. Using social media, we amassed a sample size of more than 2,000 women at two data points. The data collection was rich and we have already completed a secondary analysis looking at predictors of postpartum post-traumatic stress disorder. Journal references will be added as the papers from this data set are published.
- Edwards SR, Devries L, Hagan A, Massop C, Munch J, Dekker RL. (2015). The 2013 Rally to Improve Birth: Longitudinal effects of a grassroots campaign on consumer knowledge of childbirth. Paper presented at the American College of Nurse Midwives annual conference. Washington, D.C.
- Edwards SR, Devries L, Hagan A, Massop C, Munch J, Dekker RL. (2014). Risk factors for postpartum PTSD: coercion during labor and history of abuse. Paper presented at the American Psychology Association convention. Washington, D.C.
- Dekker RL (In press). Social media and evidence based maternity care: A cross-sectional survey study. Journal of Perinatal Education.
I have also completed several research studies on the link between high-risk pregnancy conditions and cardiovascular disease. In 2015, I worked with an interdisciplinary team of researchers from the U.S. and the United Kingdom to describe the experiences of women with peripartum heart failure (cardiomyopathy). Those data were presented at the Heart Failure Society of America, where I was a finalist in their research competition, and the subsequent paper has been accepted for publication in the Journal of Midwifery in Women’s Health. In 2014, I went to the American Heart Association and presented a research study about the link between pregnancy complications and cardiovascular risk factors. I have also been working with a doctoral student to describe the experience of women with preeclampsia on bed rest (Kehler et al., in press). Finally, in 2016, I completed a study on using social media to improve birth and health outcomes in women with gestational diabetes. Journal references will be added as these data are published.
- Dekker RL, Ashford KL, Lennie TA, Chung ML, Biddle MJ, Mudd-Martin G, Bailey A, Moser DK. (2014). Elevated cardiovascular risk factors among Appalachian women with a history of pregnancy complications. Paper presented at the 2014 American Heart Association Scientific Sessions, Chicago, IL.
- Dekker RL, Morton CH, Singleton P, Lyndon A. (In press). Women’s experiences being diagnosed with peripartum cardiomyopathy: A qualitative study. Journal of Midwifery and Women’s Health.
- Kehler S, Ashford K, Cho M, Dekker RL. (In press). The experience of preeclampsia and bed rest: Mental health implications. Issues in Mental Health.
My earlier publications, which were accepted for publication while I was still a doctoral student, unveiled the fact that negative thinking contributes to depression in patients with heart failure, and that cognitive behavior therapy can target this modifiable risk factor. My role in all of the following studies was that of principal investigator. I designed the studies, enrolled participants, conducted data analysis, and drafted the manuscripts. This was a formative training period for me, as I learned firsthand how to serve as principal investigator on randomized trials. After I earned my PhD in 2010, I continued my training on randomized trials in 2013-2015, when I earned a graduate certificate in clinical and translational science.
- Dekker RL, Peden AR, Lennie TA, Schooler MP, Moser DK. (2009). Living with depressive symptoms: Patients with heart failure. American Journal of Critical Care, 18, 310-318. PMCID: PMC2751627
- Dekker RL (2011). Measurement of negative thinking in patients with heart failure: A critical analysis. Journal of Cardiovascular Nursing, 26, 9-20. PMCID: PMC3058570
- Dekker RL, Lennie TA, Hall LA, Peden AR, Moser DK. (2011). Developing a shortened measure of negative thinking in patients with heart failure. Heart & Lung: The Journal of Acute and Critical Care, 40, e60-69. PMCID: PMC3089687
- Dekker RL. (2011). Cognitive therapy for depression in patients with heart failure: A critical review. Republished in Heart Failure Clinics, 7, 127-41. PMCID: PMC3018846
During my doctoral studies and continuing with my first few years as a faculty member, I collaborated with a large team of interdisciplinary investigators to uncover links between depression and future cardiovascular outcomes in patients with heart failure. This was an incredible experience for me, because I was responsible for collecting, managing, and maintaining a complex survival data set contained within a large, prospective registry. The Heart Failure Quality of Life Registry contained multiple psychological and clinical measures on tens of thousands of patients with heart failure, and served as a fertile training ground for me to learn how to conduct clinical and translational research on depression and other psychological measures. Our team has published multiple articles specifying the highly significant link between symptoms of depression, anxiety, and survival (selected examples below). We have advanced the state of the science by showing that depression is a significant risk factor for future poor outcomes, and that cognitive behavior therapy for depression in patients with heart failure can be effectively delivered by nurses.
- Dekker RL, Moser DK, Peden AR, Lennie TA. (2012). Cognitive therapy improves three-month outcomes in hospitalized patients with heart failure. Journal of Cardiac Failure, 18: 10-20. PMCID: PMC3246192
- Chung, ML, Moser DK, Wu JR, Dekker RL, Lennie TA. (2011). Depressive symptoms and poor social support have a synergistic effect on event-free survival in patients with heart failure. Heart & Lung: The Journal of Acute and Critical Care, Nov-Dec; 40(6):492-501. PMC3129423
- Dekker RL, Lennie TA, Albert NM, Rayens MK, Chung ML, Wu JR, Song EK, Moser DK. (2013). Depressive symptom trajectory predicts one-year health-related quality of life in patients with heart failure. Journal of Cardiac Failure. PMC3164519.
- Dekker RL, Lennie TA, Doering LV, Chung ML, Wu JR, Moser DK. (2014). Coexisting anxiety and depressive symptoms in patients with heart failure. European Journal of Cardiovascular Nursing, 13(2):168-76. PMCID: PMC3992982 [Available on 2015/4/1]
Complete List of Published Work in MyBibliography: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/sites/myncbi/rebecca.dekker.1/bibliography/40506629/public/?sort=date&direction=descending
Awards and Honors
2002 Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Student Nursing Performance, Sigma Theta Tau, Kappa Epsilon Chapter
2002 Bachelor of Science in Nursing with Honors, Calvin College
2006 Presidential Award for Outstanding Master’s Student, University of Kentucky, College of Nursing
2006-2009 Pre-doctoral Fellowship, RICH Heart Program, University of Kentucky, College of Nursing
2006 Academic Year Fellowship, University of Kentucky Graduate School
2006 Academic Scholarship, Sigma Theta Tau International, Delta Psi chapter
2007 Finalist in Research Presentation Competition (3rd place), American Association of Heart Failure Nurses
2008 International Scholar Award, Philanthropic Educational Organization
2008 Finalist in Research Presentation Competition (2nd place), American Association of Heart Failure Nurses
2008 Best Doctoral Poster, Student Scholarship Showcase, University of Kentucky, College of Nursing
2009 Academic Year Fellowship, University of Kentucky Graduate School
2009 Young Investigator Award (winner), Heart-Brain Summit, sponsored by the Society for Heart-Brain Medicine and the Cleveland Clinic Bakken Heart-Brain Institute
2010 Carolyn A. Williams Award for Outstanding PhD Graduate, University of Kentucky, College of Nursing
2010 Best Graduate Student Oral Presentation and Poster, Student Scholarship Showcase, University of Kentucky, College of Nursing
2012 Marie Cowan Young Investigator Award Winner, American Heart Association, Council on Cardiovascular Nursing
2015 Martha Hill New Investigator Finalist, American Heart Association, Council on Cardiovascular Nursing
2015 Nursing Research Investigator Finalist (for research on peripartum heart failure), Heart Failure Society of America
2002-present Sigma Theta Tau International
2006- 2016 American Heart Association, Council on Cardiovascular Nursing
2007-2010 American Association of Heart Failure Nurses
2007-2011 Southern Nursing Research Society
2012-2013 Improving Birth, Executive Board Member
2013-present Improving Birth, Advisory Board Member
2014-present DONA International, Advisory Council Member
2015-present American College of Nurse Midwives
2016-present American Association of Nurses; Kentucky Nurses Association
Major Consulting Projects
2013-2014: HFS Consultants. Subject matter expert on an international birth center project.
2013-2014: Informed Medical Decision Making Foundation. Consumer advisor for the Birth Setting Informed Decision-Making project.
2013: American Association of Birth Centers. Professional writing for blog article on the National Birth Center Study II.
2013: Informed Medical Decision Making Foundation. Consumer advisor for the Gestational Diabetes Informed Decision-Making project.
Research Funding Received
Dekker, R. L., Moser, D. K., Ashford, K., Chertok, I. Developing a Social Media Intervention to Reduce Cardiovascular Risk Behaviors in Mothers with Gestational Diabetes. Role: PI. University of Kentucky Office of the Vice President for Research, $20,000. (Jan 2015-Dec 2015).
Chung, M. L., Dekker, R. L., Moser, D. K., Lennie, T. A., Danner, D. D., A Caregiver Cardiac Health Intervention for Dementia Caregivers. Role: Co-investigator. University of Kentucky Center for Clinical and Translational Science, $25,000 (July 1, 2013 – December 31, 2014).
Dekker, R. L. Cognitive therapy for depressive symptoms in hospitalized patients with heart failure. Role: PI. Funding Agency: National Institutes of Health, National Institute of Nursing Research, 1K23NR013480 $365,981. (April 2012- June 2015).
Dekker, R. L., Tovar, E. G., Moser, D. K., Lennie, T. A. Cognitive restructuring to reduce depressive symptoms and improve outcomes in patients with heart failure. Role: Co-Principal Investigator. Funding Agency: National Institutes of Health, National Institute of Nursing Research, 5P20NR010679-04. $97,428. (September 2010- June 2012).
Testing a brief cognitive therapy intervention for depressive symptoms in hospitalized patients with heart failure. Role: Principal Investigator. Philanthropic Educational Organization, International Scholar Award. $15,000. (Jan 2009-December 2009).