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Sigma's 33rd International Nursing Research Congress was held July 21-25, 2022 in Edenburg, Scotland. This conference brings together nurse leaders, researchers, clinicians, and students from around the world who are focused on evidence-based research and practice. Sarret Seng, a University of Kentucky College of Nursing (UK CON) PhD student presented her research: Factors associated with Psychological Distress experienced by Healthcare Workers during the COVID-19 Pandemic. This research was co-authored by Dr. Chizimuzo Okoli, UK CON Professor and Executive Director of the Behavioral Health Wellness Environments for Living and Learning (BH WELL) research team. Seng also serves as a graduate research assistant with BH WELL.

Seng’s research will explain behavioral or work-related factors which can either make an individual vulnerable to or protected from developing psychological distress. Certain factors such as age, gender, ethnicity, and occupational status can make an individual’s mental well-being more or less likely to suffer. This study is significant because the findings will allow the researchers to identify and create specific ways to support an individual's mental well-being, such as screening tools to help identify people who may be at higher risk for psychological distress. In addition, this research may help healthcare institutions develop policies and programs to identify and treat individuals who are suffering from psychological distress.


Seng shares that she has always been interested in mental and behavioral health since her undergraduate degree. She began to explore different aspects of mental health when she began working with BH WELL. “Ultimately, the main things I am interested in are interventions that will get our patient population (people living with mental and behavioral health challenges) to engage in practices that enhance their mental well-being.” Sarrett has worked with BH WELL since her undergraduate career and has shown commitment to academic excellence and growth.

Seng appreciates Dr. Okoli and the BH WELL team. She sees them as instrumental in her development as a researcher. Reflecting on her time with BH WELL, she notes, “Dr. Okoli, in particular, challenges me to think critically through problems rather than simply giving me solutions. This is especially valuable as a young researcher, as I want to be able to develop the independence necessary to lead my own research team someday and I must be able to navigate difficult situations.” Seng affirms the importance of learning from a distinguished leader in the field such as Dr. Okoli, because he fosters an environment of learning and excellence among his students. 

For more information on the 33rd International Nursing Research Congress 2022.

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Sigma Theta Tau International Honor Society of Nursing (Sigma) was founded by six nurses in 1922 in Indianapolis, Indiana at what is now the Indiana University School of Nursing. “The name stems from Greek words storgé, thárros, and timé, meaning love, courage, and honor. Sigma is an international community of nurses, dedicated to the advancement of knowledge, teaching, learning, and service through the cultivation of communities of practice, education, and research. Their mission is to develop nurse leaders anywhere to improve healthcare everywhere.”

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The Behavioral Health Wellness Environments for Living and Learning (BH WELL) research team exists to promote behavioral health and wellness among individuals facing behavioral health challenges.