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Patricia Carter, PhD, RN, CNS | Associate Professor

Email Patricia Carter

Phone: 512 232-4709
Fax: 512 471-3688

Office: NUR 5.128
The University of Texas at Austin, School of Nursing
1710 Red River Street
Austin, TX 78712


As a member of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine and the Sleep Research Society, Dr. Carter collaborates with interdisciplinary colleagues across the nation to explore the use of Behavioral Sleep Medicine approaches that can be useful to improving sleep quality in vulnerable populations. Her work has focused on designing, testing, and evaluating non-pharmacologic approaches to decreasing insomnia and depression symptoms while improving quality of life in active and bereaved family caregivers of persons with chronic and disabling conditions, in persons with cancer, in new mothers, and in college students.

Featured Audio Interview

Click on the above icon to hear
Dr. Carter's interview about
insomniaon Morning Wave
in Busan.

In the past 17 years of research Dr. Carter has found that family caregivers of persons with chronic conditions (specifically cancer or dementia) suffer with severe insomnia, but they are unable to take advantage of pharmacologic treatments, because the excessive sedation does not allow for ongoing monitoring of the patient’s needs throughout the night. Therefore behavioral therapies are the most effective in decreasing the chronic sleep deprivation experienced in this population.

In the more recent 2-4 years, her work has expanded to include the exploration of how the cancer experience for both the patient and family caregiver is influenced by their sleep quality. In this time she has successfully begun to describe dyadic relationships between caregiver sleep quality and cancer patient symptom management. Additionally, she has piloted a brief behavioral intervention for sleep in the cancer patient-caregiver dyad that was delivered in a community oncology center during infusion therapy. These projects have resulted in submission of an RO1 application to NCI that was favorably reviewed, although not funded. This application is undergoing revision for resubmission.

An additional ongoing area of focus has been to develop junior sleep research scientists. This has been accomplished through the coaching and mentorship she has provided to undergraduate, masters, and doctoral students in a number of disciplines. Examples of undergraduate student projects include: exploring how college student’s sleep quality impacts their physical, mental, and social health as well as their academic success; how college student use of social media hinders sleep quality and how social media could be leveraged as mechanism for delivering positive sleep habits promotion messages to this population. While graduate student projects include: Exploration of sleep apnea assessment in pain clinics: Influence on opioid related deaths; Sleep assessment and quality of life in cancer patients: match between provider and patient ratings; Assessment of the role sleep quality plays daily function and quality of life for older adults across living environments (independent, assisted, memory care). The breadth of these projects supports her belief that sleep is a basic building block of health and wellbeing. By helping junior scientists to explore their passion through the lens of sleep broadens the impact of their work while contributing to the body of science that could not be generated by traditional sleep scientist alone.

Recently, Dr. Carter has been afforded the opportunity to broaden her own focus of research to include health promotion techniques (motivational interviewing) to promote CPAP adherence in older adults with mild cognitive impairment (MCI). Beginning this year (2017), she will be a co-investigator on Kathy Richards multiple PI NIH funded project to investigate the impact CPAP adherence has on MCI progression in older adults. This project allows her to broaden her own focus to include both obstructive sleep apnea and mild cognitive impairment, while maintaining her focus on non-pharmacological behavioral interventions and health promotion. She will be exploring opportunities to add to the current project aspects to describe the role and experience of the care partner in CPAP adherence and MCI progression.

Click here to hear Dr. Carter's interview about insomnia on Morning Wave in Busan, a radio program in Busan, South Korea.

Current Research Projects

  • 2017 - 21 R01AG054435 Changing the Trajectory of Mild Cognitive Impairment with CPAP Treatment of Obstructive Sleep Apnea (Memories 2). Role: Co-I; Goonerante, N; Richards, K.; Wolk, D. (MPI).
  • 2017 - Exploring sleep in older adults. Berkley, A. (PI- doctoral student), Carter, P. (PI). Longhorn Village Geriatric Scholar program fellowship. $750.
  • 2016 - Translation and Cultural Validity of Intervention Materials and Research Instruments for Hispanic Family Caregivers. Acton, G. (PI), Carter, P. (Co-PI), Alverez, L (Co-I). TCRSS Expedited Proposal-Enhancement Grant. $5000
  • 2015 - Sleep in college students. Carter, P. (PI), Klerman, E. (Co-I). unfunded.

Completed Research Projects

  • 2016-17 Sleep in pregnancy. Carter, P. (Faculty mentor), Price, R. (ug honors). Undergraduate Research Fellowship ($1000).
  • 2015-17 The relationship between quality of sleep and job performance in nurses seeking graduate degrees. Carter, P. (Faculty mentor), Murphy, E. (ug honors). Undergraduate Research Fellowship ($1000).
  • 2015 Describing new mother’s anxiety, sleep, and depressive symptoms and their receptiveness to non-pharmacologic treatment options for insomnia, depression and anxiety. Carter, P. (PI, Faculty), Murphey, C. (co-I, Clinical Faculty). Special Research Grant ($750)
  • 2015 Stress, anxiety, depression & insomnia in primiparous new mothers following childbirth: and exploratory feasibility study.  Murphey, C. (PI), Carter, P. (Co-PI). STT Epsilon Theta Chapter ($750) & intramural CAIN research funds.
  • 2014 Student perceptions of importance level of sleep promotion message content and preferences for sleep promotion information delivery platforms. Carter, P. (PI, Faculty mentor), Kercher, C. (Ug honors), Gettel, D. (Ug honors). Undergraduate Research Fellowships X2 ($2000).
  • 2013 Sleep, mood, & symptom management in cancer patients & family caregivers. Carter, P. Principal Investigator; Mikan, S. (Junior Researcher), Patt, D. (MD) Co-investigators. Unfunded.
  • 2013 Brief behavioral sleep intervention for cancer patients & family caregivers. Carter, P. (Faculty), Mikan, S. (Junior Researcher), Debra Patt. (MD). Intramural funding.
  • 2013 Relationships between Staffing Patterns and Nursing and Patient Outcomes. Lin, L-C. (PI, Clinical Faculty), Carter, P. (Co-PI, Faculty). Unfunded.
  • 2012-13. Mind-body behavioral sleep intervention to maximize college student sleep quality Carter, P. Principal Investigator; Schnyer, R. (Junior Faculty), Betcher, M. (Ug honors) Undergraduate Research Fellowship ($1000).
  • 2011-12. Study to develop recruitment materials for a behavioral health promotion intervention of Hispanic family caregivers of persons with cancer. Carter, P. Principal Investigator; Mackert, M., Guevara, H., Martinez-Colon, L. Intramural funds. $2500.
  • 2009 Neurobehavioral study of cognition and emotion under chronic sleep restriction. Schnyer, D. (Faculty), Carter, P. (Faculty), Trujillo, L. (Graduate), Dickey, L. (Graduate). Intramural funds.
  • 2007-10 Sleep: Effect on Dementia Caregiver Mastery, Perceived Stress & Depression.  Simpson, C. Principal Investigator; Carter. P & Acton, G. Faculty Sponsors. NIH/NINR – NRSA.
  • 2003-07 Development of Caregiver Sleep Intervention. Carter, P. Principal Investigator National Institute of Mental Health. R21 MH067600-01. ($547,404).
  • 2003-07 Health Promotion for Women with Fibromyalgia. Stuifbergen, A. Principal investigator [H. Becker (15%), P. Carter (10%), & G. Timmerman (5%), Co Investigators]. National Institutes of Health. ($1,342,323).
  • 2005-06 Behavioral Sleep Intervention for Hospice Nurses: A Pilot Study.  Carter, P. (PI), Dyre, K. (Co-I). Cain Excellence Fund. ($3,000).
  • 2004-06 A Pilot Study of the Relationships between Sleep Quality, Decision-Making Satisfaction & Depression in Family Caregivers of Community Dwelling and Institutionalized Patients with Dementia. Carter, P. (PI), Simpson, C. (Co-I) Special Research Grant. ($750).
  • 2004-05 Health Promotion for HIV Positive Women. Abel, E. (PI) [P. Carter (5%)] Cain Excellence Fund. ($3,500).
  • 2003-04 Bereaved Family Caregiver’s Descriptions of Sleep Changes During & After caregiving. Carter, P. (PI). Pilot grant from Center for Health Promotion Research in Underserved Populations (CHPR). University of Texas at Austin, School of Nursing. ($10,000).
  • 2001 Sleep Deprivation and Depression in Family Caregivers of Persons with Lung Cancer. Carter, P. (PI). UT Austin Summer Research Award. ($10,000)
  • 2001-02 Sleep Intervention for Cancer Caregivers. Carter, P. (PI).  UT Austin Research Grant. ($5,993).
  • 2001 Sleep Intervention for Cancer Caregivers. Carter, P. (PI).  Oncology Nursing Foundation. Submitted 5/1/01, un-funded; Submitted 11/1/01, unfunded. (scaled down project was conducted with UT research grant)
  • 2000-02. Sleep and Depression in Cancer Caregivers.  Carter, P. (PI) Oncology Nursing Foundation/Bristol-Myers Oncology Research Grant. ($7,500)
  • 2000-01 Depression and Sleep in Cancer Caregivers. Carter, P.(PI). Pilot grant from Center for Health Promotion Research in Underserved Populations (CHPR). ($10,000)
  • 1999-00 Sleep Pattern Changes and Mood Disturbances as Described by Family Caregivers of Persons with Terminal Cancer. Carter, P. (PI) Special Research Grant.  ($750)
  • 1996-98 Cancer Caregivers Depression and Sleep Disturbances. Carter, P. (PI). NIH, NINR Vulnerable Populations Pre-doctoral Fellowship #NR07077. 

Completed Program Grants

  • 2009-10 Scholarships for disadvantaged students – nursing students. Carter, P. Principal investigator DHHS-Health Research & Service Admin ($43,896)
  • 2008-09 Scholarships for disadvantaged students – nursing students. Carter, P. Principal investigator DHHS-Health Research & Service Admin ($37,166)
  • 2007-08 Scholarships for disadvantaged students – nursing baccalaureate students. Carter, P. Principal investigator DHHS-Health Research & Service Admin ($42,762)
  • 2007-08 Scholarships for disadvantaged students – nursing graduate students. Carter, P. Principal investigator DHHS-Health Research & Service Admin ($7,636)
  • 2006-07 Scholarships for disadvantaged students – nursing baccalaureate students. Carter, P. Principal investigator DHHS-Health Research & Service Admin TO8HP07067-01 ($59,608).
  • 2006-07 Scholarships for disadvantaged students – nursing graduate students. Carter, P. Principal investigator DHHS-Health Research & Service Admin TO8HP07068-01 ($9,314).


  • Perry, E.L., Carter. P., Becker, H., Garcia, A., Johnson, K. & Buchanan, G. (2017). Health Literacy in Adolescents with Sickle Cell disease. Pediatric Nursing. 36: 191-196. doi: 10.1016/j.pedn.2017.05.012.
  • Matthews, E., Carter, P., Page, M., Dean, G. & Berger, A. (2018). Putting Evidence Into Practice: An Update of Evidence Based Interventions for Cancer-Related Sleep-Wake Disturbance. Clinical Journal of Oncology Nursing. 22(1): 37-52. doi: 10.1188/18.CJON.37-52.
  • Lippe, M. & Carter, P. (2017). Assessing Student characteristics in Palliative Care Education Research: A Literature Review. International Journal of Palliative Nursing. 23(8): 402-408.doi: 10.12968/ijpn.2017.23.8.402.
  • Lippe, M., Jones, T., Becker, H., & Carter, P. (2017). Student Preparation to Care for Dying Patients: Assessing Outcomes across a Curriculum. Journal of Nursing Education. 56(10); 633-637. doi: 10.3928/01484834-20170918-10.
  • Lippe, M, Volker D., Jones, T., & Carter, P. (2017) Evaluating End-of-Life Care Education within Nursing Programs: A Method for Targeted Curriculum Evaluation. Journal of Hospice and Palliative Nursing, 19(3): 266-274DOI: 10.1097/NJH.0000000000000341.
  • Murphey, C., Carter, P., Price, L., Dimmit Champion, J., & Nichols, F. (2017). Psychological Distress in First Time New Mothers: An Exploratory Feasibility Study.  Nursing Research and Practice, 8415083. DOI: 10.1155/2017/8415083. Epub 2017 Jan 16.
  • Pfitzinger Lippe, M. & Carter, P. (2015). End-of-life teaching strategies in prelicensure nursing education: An integrative review. Journal of Hospice & Palliative Nursing. 17(1). 31-39. DOI: 10.1097/NJH.0000000000000118.
  • Witkowski, S., Trujillo, L.T., Sherman, S.M., Carter, P., Matthews, M.D., & Schnyer, D.M. (2014). An examination of the association between chronic sleep restriction and electrocortical arousal in college students. Clinical Neurophysiology, S1388-2457(14): 00338-1. DOI 10.1016/j.clinph.2014.06.026.
  • Simpson, C & Carter, P. (2014). Impact of living arrangement son dementia caregiver sleep quality. American Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease and Other Dementias. Pp 1-8. DOI: 10.1177/1533317514559828
  • Simpson, C. & Carter, P. (2013). Mastery: Comparison of wife and daughter caregivers of a person with dementia. Journal of Holistic Nursing. 31(2); 113-120. DOI 10.1177/0898010112473803
  • Simpson, C. & Carter, P. (2013). Dementia behavioral and psychiatric symptoms: effect on caregivers’ sleep. Journal of Clinical Nursing. 22, 3042–3052, DOI: 10.1111/jocn.12127
  • Simpson, C., & Carter, P. (2013). Short-term changes in sleep, mastery & stress: Impacts on depression and health in dementia caregivers, Geriatric Nursing.34; 509-516. DOI:10.1016/j.gerinurse.2013.07.002
  • Simpson, C., & Carter, P. (2013). Dementia caregivers’ lived experience of sleep. The Clinical Nurse Specialist: The Journal for Advanced Nursing Practice.27(6); 298-306. doi: 10.1097/NUR.0b013e3182a87287.
  • Carter, P., Mikan, S. & Dyre, K. (2013) Sleep Disturbance, Chronic Stress, and Depression in Hospice Nurses: Testing of an Intervention. Oncology Nursing Forum, 40(5), E368-E373.
  • Simpson, C. & Carter, P. A. (2013). Mastery: A comparison of wife and daughter caregivers of a person with dementia. Journal of Holistic Nursing, 31(2), 111-118.
  • Stuifbergen, A., Phillips, L., Carter, P., Morrison, J. & Todd, A. (2010). Subjective and objective sleep difficulties in women with fibromyalgia syndrome. Journal of the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners,22, 548-556.
  • Simpson, C. & Carter, P. (2010). Pilot study of a brief behavioral sleep intervention for caregivers of individuals with dementia. Research in Gerontological Nursing, 3(1), 19-29.
  • Carter, P., Mikan, S.Q., & Simpson, C. (2009). A feasibility study of a two session home based cognitive behavioral therapy-insomnia intervention for bereaved family caregivers. Palliative & Supportive Care,7,197-206.
  • Carter, P. (2007) Sleep Disturbance. In Langhorn, M, & Fulton, J. (Eds.) Oncology Nursing, 5th ed. St. Louis: Elsevier Science. (pp. 694-700).
  • Acton, G.A. & Carter, P. (2006). Health promotion research: Addressing the needs of older adults and their caregivers. Journal of Gerontological Nursing, 32(2), 5.
  • Carter, P. (2006) Anxiety and Depression. In Dow, K. (Ed). Women and Cancer. St Louis: Mosby. (pp253-263).
  • Carter, P. (2006) A brief behavioral sleep intervention for family caregivers of persons with cancer. Cancer Nursing, 29, 95-103.
  • Carter, P. & Acton, G.A. (2006). Personality and coping as predictors of caregivers’ depression and sleep problems. Journal of Gerontological Nursing, 32(2), 45-53.
  • Carter, P. (2006) Sleep and the Caregiver. in Lee-Chiong. T (Ed) Encyclopedia of Sleep Medicine. Hoboken, NJ:J. Wiley & Sons. (pp 181-183).
  • Carter, P. (2006) in Canobio, M (ed.) Mosby handbook of patient education, 3nd Edition. St. Louis: Mosby.
  • Carter, P. (2005). Bereaved caregivers description of sleep: Impact on daily life and the bereavement process. Oncology Nursing Forum, 32, E70-E75.
  • Berger, A., Parker, K., Young-McCaughlin, S., Mallory, G., Barsevick, A., Beck, S., Carpenter, J., Carter, P., Farr, L., Hinds, P., Lee, K., Miaskowski, C., Mock, V., & Hall, T. (2005). 2004 State of the Science conference on disturbances in sleep and wakefulness in individuals with cancer and their caregivers. Oncology Nursing Forum, 32, E98-126.
  • Carter, P. & Clark, A. (2005). Assessing and treating sleep problems in family caregivers of ICU patients. Critical Care Nurse, 25, 16-25.
  • Huang, C-M., Carter, P. & Gou, J-L. (2004). A comparison of sleep and daytime sleepiness in depressed and non-depressed mothers during early postpartum period. Journal of Nursing Research, 12, 287-295.
  • Bush, A & Carter, P. (2004). The effect of cancer patient pain and fatigue on caregiver depression level and sleep quality. Journal of Undergraduate Nursing Scholarship, 6(1), 1-6.
  • Chang, B.L., Nitta, S., Carter, P., & Markham. Y.K. (2004). Perceived helpfulness of telephone calls among family caregivers. Journal of Gerontological Nursing, 30(9),14-21.
  • Stuifbergen, A., Harrison, T. Becker, H. & Carter, P. (2004) Adaptation of a wellness intervention for women with chronic disabling conditions. Journal of Holistic Nursing. 22(1), 12-31.
  • Carter, P. (2003). Family caregiver’s sleep loss and depression over time. Cancer Nursing, 26, 253-259.
  • Carter, P. (2002). Sleep disturbance and depression. In M. Hass (ed.), Contemporary Issues in Lung Cancer. (pp. 175-184) Sudbury, MA: Jones & Bartlett.
  • Clark, A. & Carter, P. (2002). Why do nurses see family as “trouble”? Clinical Nurse Specialist Journal. 16(1), 40-41.
  • Carter, P. (2002). Caregiver’s Descriptions of Sleep Changes and Depressive Symptoms. Oncology Nursing Forum, 29,1277-1283.
  • Chang, B., Sarna, L., & Carter, P. (2001). Mammography screening in caregivers of persons with dementia. Geriatric Nursing, 22(1), 33-36.
  • Chang, B., Brecht, M.L., & Carter, P. (2001). Predictors of social support and caregiver outcomes. Women and Health 33(1/2), 39-61.
  • Carter, P. (2001). A not so silent cry for help: Older female cancer caregivers need for information. Journal of Holistic Nursing, 19(3), 271-284.
  • Carter, P. & Chang, B. (2000). Sleep and depression in cancer caregivers. Cancer Nursing, 23(6), 410-415.
  • Flaskerud, J., Carter, P., & Lee, P. (2000). Distressing emotions in female caregivers of persons with AIDS, Age-related dementias, and advanced stage cancers. Perspectives in Psychiatric Care, 36(4), 121-130.
  • Carter, P. (2000) in Canobio, M (ed.) Mosby handbook of patient education, 2nd Edition. St. Louis: Mosby.
  • Winslow, B., & Carter, P. (1999). Patterns of burden and dependency in dementia caregiving couples. Nursing Clinics of North America, 34(2), 275-287.
  • Carter, P. (1998). Self-Care agency: The concept and how it is measured. Significance for caregivers. Journal of Nursing Measurement, 6(2), 195-207.
  • Faherty, B. Cody, M., & Carter, P. (1998). Minimum data set for home health care: State report cards. State and Local Government Review, 30(3), 205-212.