Alexa Stuifbergen


James R. Dougherty Jr. Centennial Professor


Adult Health; Tenured/Tenure Track
Chronic Disease/Disability
Health Disparities


Dr. Stuifbergen received her PhD in Nursing from The University of Texas at Austin, her MSN from The University of Texas at El Paso, and her BSN from Creighton University. She joined the UT Austin faculty in 1989 and served as Associate Dean for Research (1999-2009), Director of the Center for Health Promotion Research in Underserved Populations (2000-2011; P30NR005051), Interim Dean (2009-2010) and Dean (2010-2023) of the School of Nursing. Dr. Stuifbergen presently hold the James R. Dougherty Jr. Centennial Professorship in Nursing.

Dr. Stuifbergen is internationally known for her pioneering work in health promotion and self-management for persons with chronic and disabling conditions. She is an established researcher with experience in both longitudinal descriptive research and the development and implementation of complex clinical trials of behavioral interventions for persons with chronic and disabling conditions. She has successfully acquired NIH funding to support her research including 5 R01s (3 for clinical trials), 1 R21, 1 R29, and 2 P30 Center grants as Principal Investigator and has published more than 130 refereed journal articles. Dr. Stuifbergen has worked extensively with persons with multiple sclerosis and developed new interventions to improve health behaviors, cognitive functioning and overall health. She has worked collaboratively with colleagues to extend her behavioral intervention work in self-management to populations of cancer survivors, polio survivors, women with HIV, and persons with Type 2 diabetes. Her most recent work (R21 and R01) tested computer-assisted interventions in a multi-site clinical trial to manage cognitive symptoms and promote self-management in persons with MS. 

Dr. Stuifbergen has significant experience mentoring students across all levels from undergraduates to doctoral students and early career faculty. She has served as sponsor/mentor for NIH-funded K-awards, pre-doctoral National Research Service Awards (NRSA) and as senior faculty/mentor for pre and post-doctoral scholars on T32 Institutional NRSAs at the School of Nursing. 

Dr. Stuifbergen and colleague Dr. Heather Becker have developed three instruments that are widely used in health promotion research for persons with chronic and disabling conditions – the Self-Rated Abilities for Health Practices, the Barriers to Health Promoting Activities Scale and the Acceptance of Illness Scale. These reliable and valid instruments have been used by researchers in nursing and other disciplines in at least 8 countries and translated into multiple languages, including Braille and American sign language. 

Dr. Stuifbergen has served on and led national committees for the American Association of Colleges of Nursing, the Rehabilitation Nursing Foundation, the National MS Society and the National Institutes of Health. She chaired the Adult Work Group for the DHHS Advisory Subcommittee to generate health promotion objectives for persons with disabilities for inclusion in Healthy People 2010 and served as Chair (2011-2013) of the Nursing and Related Clinical Sciences Scientific Review Group for the NIH. Dr. Stuifbergen has received numerous professional honors including induction as a Fellow of the American Academy of Nursing (1997), recognition as an AACN Wharton Executive Leadership Fellow (2013) and as a Fellow of the Center for Health Interprofessional Education at The University of Texas at Austin. She was asked to serve as a member of the National Advisory Council on Nursing Research at the NIH (2015-2019) and was inducted in 2017 to the Sigma Theta Tau International Researcher Hall of Fame.

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NUR 5.135