Liza Behrens PhD, RN is a NRSA Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the NewCourtland Center for Transitions and Health at the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing (Penn Nursing), sponsored by the National Institute of Nursing Research (T32NR009365-12). Dr. Behrens’ research interest is in the implementation of preference-based, person-centered care in the nursing home to improve the physical and psychological well-being of residents living with dementia.

Dr. Behrens completed her PhD in Nursing Science with a minor in Gerontology at the Pennsylvania State University. She completed an Associates in Science and Bachelor of Science in Biology at Norwich University (Northfield, VT), a Bachelor of Science in Nursing from Cedar Crest College (Allentown, PA), and a Master in Nursing Science with a focus on Clinical Research Administration at The George Washington University (Washington, D.C.).

During her PhD training she completed a fellowship at the Rock Ethics Institute and was the first nursing student to complete an interdisciplinary fellowship at the Clinical and Translational Science Institute. She received the 2019 The Eastern Nursing Research Society /Council for Advancement of Nursing Science Dissertation Award, for her dissertation exploring how nursing home staff perceive risks associated with honoring residents’ preferences for activities of daily living and care. She was also the 2019 Center for Geriatric Nursing Excellence Student Champion Award recipient for her support and partnership to improve the lives of older adults in positive and person-centered ways.

Dr. Behrens has more than 20 years of progressive experience providing nursing care to older adults in multiple care settings including psychiatric and medical hospitals, out-patient clinics, nursing homes, and home-based care. She has held many leadership positions in nursing and in clinical research. 


Select Publications

Behrens LL, McGhan G, Abbott KM, Fick DM, Kolanowski AM, Liu Y, Buck HG, Roes M, Heid AR, Spector A, Van Haitsma K. Mapping Core Concepts of Person-Centered Care in Long-Term Services and Supports. J Gerontol Nurs. 2019 Feb 1;45(2):7-13. doi: 10.3928/00989134-20190111-02. PMID: 30690649.
Kolanowski A, Behrens L, Lehman E, Oravecz Z, Resnick B, Boltz M, Van Haitsma K, Galik E, Ellis J, Eshraghi K. Living Well With Dementia: Factors Associated With Nursing Home Residents’ Affect Balance. Res Gerontol Nurs. 2020 Jan 1;13(1):21-30. doi: 10.3928/19404921-20190823-01. Epub 2019 Aug 27. PMID: 31454406; PMCID: PMC6980972.
Van Haitsma K, Abbott KM, Arbogast A, Bangerter LR, Heid AR, Behrens LL, Madrigal C. A Preference-Based Model of Care: An Integrative Theoretical Model of the Role of Preferences in Person-Centered Care. Gerontologist. 2020 Apr 2;60(3):376-384. doi: 10.1093/geront/gnz075. PMID: 31152589; PMCID: PMC7117623.
Behrens LL, Naylor MD. “We are Alone in This Battle”: A Framework for a Coordinated Response to COVID-19 in Nursing Homes. J Aging Soc Policy. 2020 Jul-Oct;32(4-5):316-322. doi: 10.1080/08959420.2020.1773190. Epub 2020 Jun 4. PMID: 32497467; PMCID: PMC7495491.
Behrens LL, Boltz M, Kolanowski A, Sciegaj M, Madrigal C, Abbott K, Van Haitsma K. Pervasive Risk Avoidance: Nursing Staff Perceptions of Risk in Person-Centered Care Delivery. Gerontologist. 2020 Nov 23;60(8):1424-1435. doi: 10.1093/geront/gnaa099. PMID: 32756959; PMCID: PMC7759749.