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Arlington, Texas - National Award Recognizes UT Arlington Nursing Professor's Veterans Research

Daisha Cipher was part of a research team that recently received the American Congress of Rehabilitation Medicine's Elizabeth and Sidney Licht Award for Excellence in Scientific Writing in Rehabilitation Medicine.

The paper recognized was titled, "Effectiveness of Supported Employment for Veterans With Spinal Cord Injuries: Results From a Randomized Multisite Study."

Employees at six U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs medical centers participated in the research project. Cipher, who is also a member of the UT Arlington College of Nursing faculty, said she was proud to be part of the collaboration.

"This multi-site study was well-orchestrated because of the many devoted collaborators who are committed to the science of improving spinal cord-injured veterans' quality of life," said Cipher, who was the study's biostatistician. "The award is testament not only to the success of the study outcomes, but to the quality of writing exhibited in the article."

In the five-year study, the researchers found that supported employment, a staple of vocational rehabilitation programs that involves individual attention from a multidisciplinary team, could improve employment outcomes for veterans with spinal cord injuries. The journal Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation published the paper describing the team's findings in 2012. Lisa Ottomanelli, a psychologist with the Department of Veteran's Affairs, was lead author.

Jennifer Gray, interim dean of the College of Nursing, said interprofessional teams like the one in the research project are "essential to meeting the needs of patients, especially the needs of veterans.

"We are fortunate to have Dr. Cipher as a member of the College of Nursing faculty. Her expertise and willingness to collaborate are moving the research mission of the college forward," she said.

Cipher currently is working with James LePage, the associate chief of staff for research and development at the VA North Texas Health Care System, on several studies focused on homeless veterans and veterans released from prison who are suffering from medical and psychological conditions. 

"We are examining health care utilization in this population as well as kinds of vocational services that are effective in helping them secure employment," she said.

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