Professional News

College of Nursing's JungHee Kang's research on diet, health literacy recognized at international conference

JungHee Kang
Photo provided.

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Oct. 26, 2022) — The University of Kentucky College of Nursing’s JungHee Kang, Ph.D. was selected as the winner of the Nursing and Allied Professions Investigator Award for best research presentation at the European Society of Cardiology (ESC) Congress in August 2022, held in Barcelona, Spain. There were three other finalists for the award: one from Japan, one from Belgium and the other from Norway.

“I was really honored to win. There were nurse clinicians and researchers as well as researchers from allied health professionals,” said Kang. “So, it was more meaningful to be recognized not only by nursing scholars but also by scholars from other health care fields.”

The study she presented was titled, "Sustained effect of a self-care intervention on diet quality among informal rural caregivers of people with chronic illnesses: Does health literacy matter?" and was co-authored by Yuriko Katsumata, Ph.D.; Terry Lennie, Ph.D.; Misook Chung, Ph.D.; Martha Biddle, Ph.D.; Jennifer Miller, Ph.D.; and Debra Moser, Ph.D. The purpose of the study was to compare the impact of a self-care research intervention created by the RICH HEART program on 12-month diet quality in rural caregivers of people with chronic illnesses. The study compared the results between the two groups: caregivers with marginal versus adequate health literacy. Kang added that the study is related to her interest in nutrition-related interventions and social determinants of health.

Rural caregivers were taught how to adequately read food labels and to answer questions about calories, portion size and other health related issues.

“We conducted this intervention to help rural caregivers to practice better self-care and teach them how to eat a healthier diet that reduces the risk of heart disease,” said Kang. “Rural caregivers of those with chronic illness have a higher risk of cardiovascular disease than urban caregivers, and diet is a major lifestyle factor. However, interventions are often not constructed with health literacy in mind.” She added that the results of the study indicate that interventions that address health literacy are effective.

“The award is a very prestigious international award that comes as a result of selection of an abstract from hundreds of submissions from investigators in a variety of disciplines,” said Moser, the director of the RICH Heart program, a co-author on the study and Kang’s mentor. “Once the abstract is selected as a finalist, the winner is chosen after oral presentations by the finalists at the European Society of Cardiology.”

Not only did Kang win the award, but one of the judges reached out to ask her to present the study’s findings at the Association of Cardiovascular Nursing & Allied Professions (ACNAP) next year, which will give her the opportunity to spotlight RICH and the College of Nursing as well as to possibly collaborate with other researchers.

“We are delighted about this win for JungHee,” said Moser. “Her nutrition research is of the highest quality, and we are extremely proud of her.”

The University of Kentucky is increasingly the first choice for students, faculty and staff to pursue their passions and their professional goals. In the last two years, Forbes has named UK among the best employers for diversity, and INSIGHT into Diversity recognized us as a Diversity Champion four years running. UK is ranked among the top 30 campuses in the nation for LGBTQ* inclusion and safety. UK has been judged a “Great College to Work for" three years in a row, and UK is among only 22 universities in the country on Forbes' list of "America's Best Employers."  We are ranked among the top 10 percent of public institutions for research expenditures — a tangible symbol of our breadth and depth as a university focused on discovery that changes lives and communities. And our patients know and appreciate the fact that UK HealthCare has been named the state’s top hospital for five straight years. Accolades and honors are great. But they are more important for what they represent: the idea that creating a community of belonging and commitment to excellence is how we honor our mission to be not simply the University of Kentucky, but the University for Kentucky.