Esther Bernhofer

Esther I. Bernhofer, PhD, RN-BC is a Nurse Scientist II in the Office of Nursing Research and Innovation at Cleveland Clinic. Dr. Bernhofer’s program of research centers on pain management education, ethics and values-based decision-making in pain management. Prior to her current position, Dr. Bernhofer worked throughout the Cleveland Clinic health system as a pain education specialist and she continues as a pain management education expert, offering pain management classes on a regular basis. She has published extensively including her work on the psychometric testing of a new pain knowledge test for nurses, pain management ethics and values education regarding the management of pain. Dr. Bernhofer is also the recipient of several professional regional and national awards and is board-certified in pain management nursing (ANCC), is a Certified Pain Educator (American Society for Pain Educators) and serves as the Director of the Master Faculty of the American Society for Pain Management Nursing (ASPMN). She is a member of the Bioethics Network of Ohio, American Pain Society, Midwest Nursing Research Society, International Association for the Study of Pain, American Society for Pain Management Nursing and presents regularly at their conferences and others.

Research Interests

Ethical issues in the management of pain (bioethics), developing of a values-based model of pain management (axiology) and exploring the outcomes using different pain management education methods for patients and providers.


  • Ph.D. in Nursing, Frances Payne Bolton School of Nursing, Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, Ohio, 2012
  • B.S.N. to Ph.D, Master’s bridge studies, Frances Payne Bolton School of Nursing, Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, Ohio, 2008
  • B.S.N., University of Akron, Akron, Ohio, 1981


  • Board Certified Registered Nurse (RN-BC) in Pain Management Nursing, American Nurses Credentialing Center
  • Certified Pain Educator (CPE), American Society of Pain Educators (ASPE)

Contact Information

Cleveland Clinic
Office of Nursing Research and Innovation
9500 Euclid Avenue / P33
Cleveland, Ohio 44195



As part of her current position, Dr. Bernhofer coaches and mentors nurses as principals and co-investigators in research and evidence-based practice projects. She follows a leadership style that encourages her colleagues and mentees to remember that their efforts – whether it’s the research work they are doing, the direct interaction they have with a patient, or the way in which they are educating one another – have the potential to positively impact at least one patient, which is reward in and of itself. A forward-thinker, Dr. Bernhofer has been able to progress pain management at Cleveland Clinic by coordinating pain management education classes across the enterprise, establishing a nursing pain mentor program, and by mentoring and providing nurses with evidence-based practice information to assist them in helping patients manage pain. Dr. Bernhofer has served in leadership roles in professional organizations such as the American Society for Pain Management Nursing and the American Pain Society and continues leading in the research and development of new evaluation instruments that measure clinicians’ pain management knowledge and values.

Clinical Practice & Teaching

Clinical Practice & Teaching

Clinical Practice

Dr. Bernhofer’s clinical experience lies within the areas of pain management, homecare and medical/surgical nursing.


Dr. Bernhofer is a pain management educator to nurses and all providers who request information and instruction, across the Cleveland Clinic and nationally. She also provides individual assistance and instruction to nursing students whom she mentors through their final project for the DNP degree or their dissertation for the PhD, and has served on several students’ doctoral committees. She is also an adjunct associate professor at Case Western Reserve University, Frances Payne Bolton School of Nursing, Cleveland, Ohio

She also offers additional educational instruction, support and guidance through pain education initiatives, new nurse orientation classes and guest lectures at local organizations and Cleveland Clinic events.

Research & Publications

Research & Publications

Dr. Bernhofer has published extensively in peer-reviewed journals and has contributed a chapter to the book, Building and Sustaining a Hospital-Based Nursing Research Program (2016). She serves as a reviewer for four publications, Journal of Pain and Symptom Management, Pain Management Nursing , Clinical Nursing Research, and Journal of Advanced Nursing. Dr. Bernhofer also contributes expert opinions and reviews for McMaster University's Health Information Research Unit on a regular basis.

You can view Dr. Bernhofer’s publications below by year or you can download a PDF of her work.

2018 – Publications

Green, J., & Bernhofer, E. I. (2018). Effectiveness of a patient education plan on knowledge of post‐op venous thromboembolism survival skills. Journal of Clinical Nursing, 27(7-8), e1485-e1493. [R]

2017 – Publications

Rosenberger, J., Bernhofer, E. I., McCrudden, S., Johnson, R. (2017). Medication adherence in a cardiac ambulatory setting: the challenge continues. OJIN: The Online Journal of Issues in Nursing, 22(3). DOI: 10.3912/OJIN.Vol22No03PPT51 [R]

Bernhofer, E. I., Marie, B. S., & Bena, J. F. (2017). A New Clinical Pain Knowledge Test for Nurses: Development and Psychometric Evaluation. Pain Management Nursing, 18(4), 224-233. DOI: [R]

Bernhofer, E. I., Masina, V. M., Sorrell, J., & Modic, M. B. (2017). The pain experience of patients hospitalized with inflammatory bowel disease: a phenomenological study. Gastroenterology Nursing, 40(3), 200-207. doi: 10.1097/SGA.0000000000000137. [R]

Irvin, C., Sedlak, E., Walton, C., Collier, S., & Bernhofer, E. I. (2017). Hospital acquired pressure injury rates: the significance of the advanced practice registered nurses’ role in a community hospital. Journal of the American Association of Nurse Practitioners (JAANP), 29(4), 203-208. doi: 10.1002/2327-6924.12440 [R]

2016 – Publications

Bernhofer, E.I., Hosler, R. & Karius, D. (2016). Nurses’ written responses to pain management values education: a content analysis. Pain Management Nursing, 17(6) 384-391. [R]

Bernhofer, E.I. (2016). Investigating the concept of rest for research and practice. Journal of Advanced Nursing, 72(5), 1012–1022. doi: 10.1111/jan.12910 [R]

Book Chapters

Bernhofer, E.I. (2016). Moving past traditional nursing research program barriers toward success. In N. M. Albert (Ed.), Building and Sustaining a Hospital-Based Nursing Research Program (151-166). New York: Springer Publishing Company.

Professional Involvement

Professional Involvement

  • Member, International Association for the Study of Pain; Section Member, Acute Pain and Pain Education; Ethics
  • Director of the Master Faculty, American Society of Pain Management Nurses
  • Lead Nurse Planner, Education Advisory Board, American Pain Society; Section Member, Nursing, Pain Management Education, and Ethics
  • Member, Midwest Nursing Research Society; Research Sections Member, Pain and Symptom Management
  • Member, Bioethics Network of Ohio
Honors & Awards

Honors & Awards

  • American Society for Pain Management Nursing (ASPMN) Research poster award winner, 2016
  • Faces of Care Award, Cleveland Magazine, 2016
  • Clinical Practice Award, American Society for Pain Management Nursing (ASPMN), 2012
  • Nancy M. Albert Excellence in Nursing Research Award, Cleveland Clinic, 2011
  • Nurses Educational Funds Scholarship Winner for Doctoral Studies, 2011-2012
  • Graduate Assistantship in Areas of National Need (GAANN) Fellow, 2007-2010