In neonatal intensive care using clinical decision support, the focus of this career development proposal is to improve application of evidence-based practices for prevention and early recognition of necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC) among premature infants. NEC is a catastrophic complication threatening the life of fragile premature infants, yet adoption of prevention and early recognition practices (e.g. preferential use of human milk;adoption of standardized feeding protocols;transfusion and antibiotics management) differ widely as do NEC rates. Parents play a key role in NEC prevention (e.g. providing mother's own milk), but heretofore, have been insufficiently engaged as partners. Accounting for 20% of US NICU costs, NEC develops late in the hospital postnatal course and can strike suddenly but until now, no tools to guide early NEC recognition were available. To address this need, a NEC risk decision rule, called GutCheckNEC was derived and validated by our team to accurately discriminate NEC. Integration of prevention practices into clinical workflow using clinical decision support (CDS) has been shown to improve adherence to recommended care across settings. Yet, both the use and evaluation of CDS in NICUs are sparse, and we know of no studies related to CDS support for prevention of NEC. Informed by the Translating Research Into Practice (TRIP) framework for implementation science, in two NICUs using an interrupted time series design, we will integrate NEC-Zero into CDS to fit clinician workflow, optimize usability, and test effects on NEC disease, neonate nutrition and parental satisfaction. The central hypothesis is that adherence to guideline-recommended NEC prevention and early recognition practices (called """"""""NEC-Zero"""""""" and evaluated using an adherence score) will improve when delivered using CDS and NEC disease will decline. First, clinician workflow will be described using workflow maps constructed from interviews with local clinicians and the NEC-Zero integrated into CDS in the form of standard order sets, alerts, reminders and trend data (Aim 1). Then, using a simulated NEC scenario and iterative evaluation, NEC-Zero usability will be optimized (Aim 2). Finally, with an interrupted time series analysis from indicators in the 1 year prior to and 1 year after NEC-Zero implementation, we will compare the trend for NEC disease, neonate nutrition, and parent satisfaction outcomes;then describe the relationship between post-NEC-Zero clinician CDS outcomes (adherence scores, use response rates, satisfaction, perception of unintended consequences of CDS) and NEC disease outcomes (Aim 3). Formal training in usable clinical decision support under the mentorship of Daniel Malone, PhD, RPh &co-mentor Robert Greenes, MD, PhD will complement training in theories and methodologies of Implementation Science mentored by Drs. Marita Titler and Melanie Bell. Over time we will be able to apply the automation and testing of CDS for multi-faceted interventions to other clinical challenges in NICUs to achieve the goal for this program of research, which is to reduce morbidity and mortality from neonatal complications and limit costs.

Public Health Relevance

In this study, a multi-faceted intervention for prevention and early recognition of necrotizing enterocolitis called NEC-Zero will be implemented using clinical decision support and guided by a change framework from implementation science. Aimed at closing the gap between recommended care and existing practice, if effective, this intervention will reduce the burden of necrotizing enterocolitis in premature infants to save lives and costs.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ)
Clinical Investigator Award (CIA) (K08)
Project #
Application #
Study Section
HSR Health Care Research Training SS (HCRT)
Program Officer
Anderson, Kay
Project Start
Project End
Budget Start
Budget End
Support Year
Fiscal Year
Total Cost
Indirect Cost
University of Arizona
Schools of Nursing
United States
Zip Code
Gephart, Sheila M; Gordon, Phillip V; Penn, Alexander H et al. (2018) Changing the paradigm of defining, detecting, and diagnosing NEC: Perspectives on Bell's stages and biomarkers for NEC. Semin Pediatr Surg 27:3-10
Bristol, Alycia A; Nibbelink, Christine W; Gephart, Sheila M et al. (2018) Nurses' Use of Positive Deviance When Encountering Electronic Health Records-Related Unintended Consequences. Nurs Adm Q 42:E1-E11
Gephart, Sheila M; Wyles, Christina; Canvasser, Jennifer (2018) Expert consensus to weight an adherence score for audit and feedback of practices that prevent necrotizing enterocolitis in very low birth weight infants. Appl Nurs Res 39:182-188
Gephart, Sheila M; Davis, Mary; Shea, Kimberly (2018) Perspectives on Policy and the Value of Nursing Science in a Big Data Era. Nurs Sci Q 31:78-81
Dudding, Katherine M; Gephart, Sheila M; Carrington, Jane M (2018) Neonatal Nurses Experience Unintended Consequences and Risks to Patient Safety With Electronic Health Records. Comput Inform Nurs 36:167-176
Gephart, Sheila; Lanning Lowther, Lisa C (2017) Necrotizing enterocolitis: Battling an enigma. JAAPA 30:8-9
Dunn Lopez, Karen; Gephart, Sheila M; Raszewski, Rebecca et al. (2017) Integrative review of clinical decision support for registered nurses in acute care settings. J Am Med Inform Assoc 24:441-450
Gadepalli, Samir K; Canvasser, Jennifer; Eskenazi, Yael et al. (2017) Roles and Experiences of Parents in Necrotizing Enterocolitis: An International Survey of Parental Perspectives of Communication in the NICU. Adv Neonatal Care 17:489-498
Gephart, Sheila M; Fleiner, Michelle; Kijewski, Amy (2017) The ConNECtion Between Abdominal Signs and Necrotizing Enterocolitis in Infants 501 to 1500 g. Adv Neonatal Care 17:53-64
Gephart, Sheila M; Hanson, Corrine; Wetzel, Christine M et al. (2017) NEC-zero recommendations from scoping review of evidence to prevent and foster timely recognition of necrotizing enterocolitis. Matern Health Neonatol Perinatol 3:23

Showing the most recent 10 out of 23 publications