Karen B. Lasater, PhD, RN
Nurses are the frontline providers of health care, and as such, are well-positioned to influence patient outcomes. Dr. Lasater’s research identifies how the institutional environments where nurses deliver health care impact patient outcomes with a particular focus on patient outcomes that represent complex healthcare challenges.
Nurses are essential to addressing complex health care challenges that are salient to patients and their families.
- PhD, University of Pennsylvania, 2015
- MS, University of Pennsylvania, 2013
- BSN, Quinnipiac University, 2010
Dr. Lasater leads the introductory statistics course for undergraduate nursing students, N230: Statistics for Research and Measurement, teaching that mastery of the fundamentals of statistics is a powerful tool for improving health outcomes.
Preventing avoidable hospital re-admissions has long been a quality problem and has recently gained attention as a major Medicare reform initiative under the Affordable Care Act. Among older adults, re-hospitalizations can result in functional impairment and a loss of independence, not to mention a decreased quality of life. Dr. Lasater’s work highlights the importance of hospital nursing care on reducing re-admissions. Her research findings suggest that nursing workloads and work environments may be a possible mechanism for reducing re-admissions among Medicare patients.
Dr. Lasater has also received external funding to study the effects of nursing work environments on patient outcomes at the end of life. Individuals with advanced cancer and near the end of life often find themselves in the hospital where they are at risk for aggressive care they do not want, including intensive care unit admissions, life-prolonging treatments, repeated hospitalizations and emergency department visits, and in-hospital death. Dr. Lasater’s research examines the potential for hospital staff nurses to render patient and family-centered care at the end of life, given the right circumstances. Specifically, Dr. Lasater examines relationships between patient outcomes at the end of life, and modifiable features of nurses’ working conditions, such as patient-to-nurse workloads, work environments conducive to good working relationships with physicians and influence over clinical decision making, and a nursing skill mix that consists of mostly professional nurses including a majority with bachelors or higher education.
Opportunities to Learn and Collaborate at Penn Nursing
Dr. Lasater is a Senior Fellow of the Leonard Davis Institute of Health Economics – a world-renowned intellectual hub of health-systems research and policy. Through this integrated network of leading health systems and policy researchers, she has worked with scholars across disciplines, including medicine, economics, demography, and statistics. She is also a member of the Palliative and Advanced Illness Research (PAIR) Center, a working group focused on improving the aging and end-of-life process.
Selected Career Highlights
- Senior Fellow, Leonard Davis Institute of Health Economics
- Member, Interdisciplinary Research Group on Nursing Issues (IRGNI)
- 2015, Dorothy Mereness Award for exceptional ability in scholarly writing, University of Pennsylvania