Filling Knowledge Gaps in Self-Management Research

Dr. Heather Cuevas

Meet Heather Cuevas, PhD, RN, ACNS-BC, FCNS. Dr. Cuevas (MSN ’03, PHD ’13) is a UT Austin School of Nursing assistant professor with a research focus on how cognitive problems interact with chronic illness, and how this interaction contributes to challenges with self-management and health in patients with type 2 diabetes. Her background as a Clinical Nurse Specialist (CNS) encompasses diagnosis, treatment and management of a variety of endocrine disorders in the outpatient setting.

Dr. Cuevas has worked as a CNS for over 17 years, beginning her research as a doctoral student studying the influences on diabetes self-management decision making for Cuban Americans with type 2 diabetes. Since then, her work with outpatient populations has focused on diabetes and diabetes prevention through interventions to improve cognitive function and diabetes self-management. Her current project, funded by the National Institute of Nursing Research (NINR) within the National Institute of Health (NIH), is a pilot test of the Memory, Attention and Problem-Solving Skills for Persons with Diabetes (MAPSS-DM) intervention. MAPSS-DM is a comprehensive cognitive rehabilitation intervention, which will include examining patterns of glycemic variability using continuous glucose monitors (CGMS).

With this study, Dr. Cuevas aims to fill an important knowledge gap by addressing cognitive function as it relates to the management of diabetes. Diabetes is related to accelerated cognitive aging which creates cognitive deficits that are closely related to poorer self-management including medication adherence, glucose monitoring, diet and exercise. To date, no studies have been published examining the effectiveness of cognitive rehabilitation interventions in diabetes. Dr. Cuevas’ studies are necessary to identify strategies that support cognitive function and diabetes self-management. Improvements in cognitive performance as a result of cognitive rehabilitation can translate into improved performance in everyday life.

We honor Dr. Heather Cuevas for her contributions to the body of knowledge which advances our nursing practice and for her leadership to improve diabetes self-management and quality of life in all patients with chronic illnesses.