NSU nursing students to present research on cell phones and cancer at international conference


SHREVEPORT – Three Northwestern State University nursing students were selected to participate in the Sigma Theta Tau International 2019 Rising Stars Program. A poster presentation by Alexandra Piedrahita of Baton Rouge, Cynthia Robertson and Teshundrea Frederick of Shreveport was accepted for presentation at the organization’s biennial convention on Nov. 16-20 in Washington, D.C.

The study was on cell phone usage related to certain brain cancers in Canada. Piedrahita began the project as part of a required health education research class. Faculty member Dr. Donald Johnston was able to connect her with Robertson and Frederick and the trio collaborated on the project.

“I found that many people had no idea of the linkage of this topic and this sparked something in me to educate more people on this issue, especially future health care professionals,” said Piedrahita. “We transformed this idea of cellphone linkage to cancer development into an awareness campaign throughout the College of Nursing.”

The researchers distributed anonymous surveys to several classes in both BSN and ASN curriculum. Piedrahita said directly following the surveys, she discussed her personal experience and offered safety tips to participating students. A week later, the group returned to classes and asked participants to complete an anonymous follow up survey.

The topic is very personal to Piedrahita. In 2016, her father was diagnosed with a Grade Four Glioblastoma Brain Tumor that was fatal. After almost two years of invasive treatments he died in 2018.

“My father was 49 years old, and this tragedy got me thinking about how this could have happened and with endless personal research the conclusion was cancer linkage to cellphone usage,” she said. “I personally have learned that people, especially current and future health care professionals, are unaware of the relationship between cancers and cellphone usage. Throughout this educational awareness campaign, it has been rewarding to share my story, while also sharing ways of preventing what happened to my father, as well as other people, from happening to others.”

The convention is Sigma’s largest event with award presentations, plenary speakers, networking opportunities, over 800 oral and poster presentations and the election of officers for the 2019-2021 biennium. Sigma’s mission is advancing world health and celebrating nursing excellence in scholarship, leadership, and service. The organization’s vision is to be the global organization of choice for nursing.