Lioness Ayres, PhD, MS, BS

Associate Professor Emeritus

I am particularly interested in the ways families respond to chronic illness. I have a background in home health nursing, and that led to a research interest in family caregiving and the ways family caregivers make sense of the changes they experience when an adult family member becomes ill or disabled. In addition, because I did my dissertation research with Professor Kathy Knafl at the University of Illinois-Chicago, I am also interested in the ways families respond to the chronic illness or disability of a child. In the early years of family nursing, research on family response to chronic illness was often divided along essentially categorical lines, so that, for example, there was little overlap among research with families caring for infants, children, adults, or the elderly. More recently, family nursing programs such as Oregon Health Sciences University, where I completed a postdoctoral fellowship, are developing a lifespan approach to the understanding of family response to chronic illness.

My professional goal is to work on the development of a truly non-categorical framework for understanding family response to chronic illness. Such an approach could help to integrate the diverse body of research with families and open the door to collaborations among investigators from a number of disciplines. Such a framework would also refocus understanding of family management of chronic illness on the family rather than on the affected family member or the identified primary caregiver. As managed care and other financial constraints increasingly place responsibility for care of chronic illness on the family, such research is both timely and urgently needed.

My enthusiasm for synthesis extends to methods -- although most of my research experience has been qualitative, I spent part of my postdoc developing skill multiple regression and factor analysis, and I plan to design more mixed methods research. Mixed methods are ideally suited to family research and the complex sampling family research entails. In addition, I have a particular interest in integrating knowledge in nursing and the humanities, and am co-author with Dr. Suzanne Poirier, editor of the journal Literature and Medicine, of a book that uses feminist and nursing theories of care to explore family caregiving in literature and in interviews. Finally, I am also very interested in using computer assisted qualitative data management software.

Research areas
  • Family management of chronic illness
  • Children with physical disabilities
  • Qualitative and mixed methods research
Lioness Ayres
Postdoctoral in Family Nursing, Oregon Health Science University
PhD in Nursing Science, University of Illinois at Chicago
MS in Medical Surgical Nursing, University of Illinois at Chicago
BS in Nursing, University of Illinois at Chicago