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 (e.g., structural equation modeling) as appropriate analytical strategies to yield a greater understanding of complex nursing outcomes. Dr. Sousa’s teaching interests include nursing theory/conceptualization and psychometrics.
Dr. Sousa has made outstanding contributions to nursing science in two important areas. The first is discovering the utility of Structural Equation Modeling (SEM) in analyzing nursing-related phenomena. As a nursing pioneer in the application of SEM, she has demonstrated its use in 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). Dr. Sousa's second major area of contribution is advancing health-related quality of life (HRQOL) as a supremely relevant patient outcome. Dr. Sousa has developed a conceptual model that captures HRQOL across time, allowing for exploration of care processes and identification of nursing best practices.
Most recently, Dr. Sousa has developed a ground-breaking initiative, the Colorado Collaborative for Nursing Research (CCNR). Launched in 2013 with partners from 7 regional/national healthcare systems, the CCNR aims to (a) isolate and quantify quality nursing care by developing new, robust, nurse-sensitive patient-outcome metrics and (b) capture the impact of nursing care by demonstrating one-to-one links between nursing best practices and patient best outcomes. The CCNR is fulfilling its mission by building a nursing-focused, distributed data-sharing network. This network will get trending data to nurse leaders in near-real-time.
Dr. Sousa 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. She 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. She was also recognized as an Emerging Leader at the University of Colorado in 2009.