Karen Dunn Lopez, PhD, MPH, RN, FAAN

Associate Professor, Director, Center for Nursing Classification and Clinical Effectiveness

Dr. Karen Dunn Lopez is the Director of Research for the Center for Nursing Classification and Clinical Effectiveness. Her scholarship focuses on nursing informatics. She has authored and co-authored more than 35 peer-reviewed articles and has been cited more than 750 times. Using a wide range of methods including human factors engineering, human centered design approaches, systematic review methods, her program of research focuses on identifying factors that can improve the usability and usefulness of health information technologies with the overarching goals of improving decision making and health outcomes. Her current work focuses on tailoring technologies to individual characteristics in order to facilitate rapid cognition of complex health data.  

Within Dr. Dunn Lopez’s program of research, many of the technologies are grounded in the use of nursing standardized terminologies to generate new knowledge. To date this research involves novel application of NANDA-I (Nursing Diagnosis), NIC (Nursing Intervention Classification) and NOC (Nursing Outcome Classification) to develop clinical decision support technologies. This includes three federally funded grants:

  • Currently funded by National Institute of Nursing Research as a Co-Principal Investigator in a randomized clinical trial R01 (1R01NR018416-01) that aims to test clinical decision support to nurses that is tailored to their graph literacy and numeracy level. 
  • Currently funded by the National Cancer Institute as a Co-Investigator on an R01 (R01 CA225446-01) that aims to develop novel post hospitalization m-health by automatically merging nursing care plan data (NANDA-I, NIC and NOC) with narrative physician discharge summaries to provide patients an integrated view of their hospital care and post discharge self-care form both nurse and physician perspectives.
  • Received prior funding as a Co-Investigator from the National Institute of Nursing Research (R01 NR012949). On this study she led the research teams’ effort to design and iteratively improve the usability and usefulness of evidence based clinical decision support for nurses that were developed by applying big data analytics to routine NANDA-I, NIC and NOC care plan documentation. 

In addition, as part of her program of research, Dr. Dunn Lopez led the first systematic review of clinical decision support that targets decision making by acute care nurses. She found that although technologies designed to support nurse decision making has lagged behind medical decision supports, that decision support designed to support nurse decision making is associated with improved patient outcomes She also co-led a project to develop and test an algorithm to determine the differences between nurse and physician use of terminologies that provided quantitative evidence of the differences between nurse and physician care. 

Dr. Dunn Lopez is an established leader in the field of nursing informatics and Informatics Research Interest Group. She currently serves as a Governing Director to the Alliance for Nursing Informatics, on the Editorial Board for the Journal of the American Informatics Association-Open and as the only nursing member to the Board of Directors of Xcertia whose mission it is to develop standards for mobile health applications (mHealth) addressing privacy, security, operability, content accuracy and usability. She is a past Chair of the Midwest Nursing Research Society’s Health Systems Policy.

Dr. Dunn Lopez has taught a variety of graduate level courses including: Literature Review Methods and Grant Writing at the PhD level and Quality and Safety in Health Information Technology at the DNP and MS level. She is an expert in the application of the Team Based Learning Pedagogy.

Curriculum Vitae

Research areas
  • Use of nursing standardized languages to generate new knowledge
  • Information technologies to augment health decision making
  • Usability of health information technologies
Karen Dunn Lopez
Postdoctoral Fellowship, University of Illinois at Chicago
PhD Nursing Science, University of Iowa
MPH Health Services, Boston University
BSN, University of Pennsylvania