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Claudia Nunez

Undergraduate Major: Communication Sciences and Disorders

McNair Mentor:
Dr. Kenyatta O. Rivers, Communication Sciences and Disorders

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Claudia Nunez

Claudia Nunez was born in Manhattan, New York. In addition to research through the McNair program, she is involved in the UCF Research and Mentoring Program. With the guidance of her mentor, Dr. Rivers, she recently finished a research study concerned with investigating the perceptions of speech-language pathologists towards death and end-of-life care education in the field of Speech-Language Pathology. Her current research explores the prevalence of traumatic brain injury in school-age children and it's effects on academic outcome.  She hopes to continue her graduate career studying and working with Dr. Rivers at UCF. The following is an abstract of research Claudia completed as an undergraduate at UCF:

Title: Communication Disorders Professionals’ Perceptions about Death and Dying

Conducted at the University of Central Florida as part of the McNair Scholars Program.

Mentor: Dr. Kenyatta O. Rivers, Communication Sciences and Disorders

Abstract: For years, researchers have explored the death and dying process in patients with terminal illnesses. However, limited to no exploration of the perceptions that speech-language pathologists and audiologists towards death and dying working in healthcare and related settings has been done. As a result of the growing trend to employ the services of speech-language pathologists and audiologists in these settings, it is important for employers and academic programs in communication science and disorders to know ho w professionals in these fields view death and dying and what potential coursework and experiences they should have prior to working in this clinical area. The purpose of this study is (1) to investigate the perceptions of speech-language pathologists and audiologists with regards to death and dying and (2) to identify strategies for preparing professional and pre-professional speech-language pathologists and audiologists for working with diverse, terminally-ill patients and their families. Through a cover letter, 84 speech-language pathologists and audiologists working in health care and private practice settings in Florida were told that the researchers were conducting a study on the perceptions of professional speech-language pathologists and audiologists towards death and dying in patients who are terminally-ill. They were asked to complete three death and dying surveys (1) Death and Dying Survey (Rivers & Perkins, 2004), (2) the Death Attitude Profile-Revised (DAP-R; Wong, Reker, & Gesser, 1994), and (3) the Revised Death Anxiety Scale (RDAS; Thorson & Powell, 1994), a measure of death anxiety of all participants. The researchers are currently completing this study. It is anticipated that post-hoc analyses will reveal differences among participants with regards to their perceptions about death and dying, comfort in working with terminally-clients, and etc. Analyses and suggestions for preparing speech-language pathologists and audiologists in death and dying will be presented.