Karen Sousa's career goal is to improve patient care through research that focuses on developing and testing conceptual models of quality of life as a nursing practice outcome. She has expertise in developing and applying advanced statistical methods, including structural equation modeling, as appropriate analytical strategies to yield a greater understanding of complex nursing outcomes. Sousa’s teaching interests include nursing theory and conceptualization, and psychometrics.
Sousa has made outstanding contributions to nursing science in two important areas. The first is discovering the utility of a unique methodology, Structural Equation Modeling (SEM), for analyzing nursing-related phenomena. The second contribution is triggering a fresh examination of and advancing the consideration of health-related quality of life (HRQOL), a supremely relevant patient outcome. As a nursing pioneer in the application of SEM, she has demonstrated its uses in the areas of cluster analysis, instrument development, theory confirmation, construct validation, and establishment of conceptual equivalence in multi-group analyses (e. g., comparing English- and Spanish-speaking groups). Her work has led to numerous publications in highly ranked, peer-reviewed scientific journals and numerous consultations at academic institutions. In addition, until recently, nursing had not thoroughly tested conceptual models that capture HRQOL; Sousa’s program of research has developed an elegant conceptual model that captures HRQOL across and over time, allowing for exploration of care processes and identification of nursing best practices. She was appointed to the Research and Scholarship Advisory Council by the President of Sigma Theta Tau International as well as recruited to be the co-director of the International Society of Quality of Life Research Annual Conference.
Sousa has been a member of the Academy of Nursing since 2009 and is a member of the American Nurses Association, Sigma Theta Tau International, and the International Society for Quality of Life Research. Dr. Sousa was also recognized as an Emerging Leader at the University of Colorado in 2009.