Karen Distelhorst, PhD, APRN, GCNS-BC, is a nurse scientist in Cleveland Clinic’s Office of Nursing Research and Innovation. Dr. Distelhorst has extensive clinical experience as a gerontological clinical nurse specialist in home health care, ambulatory care, and inpatient care areas. She has served as an assistant professor for both graduate and undergraduate programs at Malone University and adjunct faculty at the University of Akron. In 2022, she was appointed assistant professor of medicine at Cleveland Clinic Lerner College of Medicine at Case Western Reserve University. As a nurse researcher, Dr. Distelhorst’s area of interest is population health. Her recent research has focused on population health and how social determinants of health, neighborhood disadvantage, and food insecurity impact access to health care and health outcomes
The impact of nursing interventions on individual and population-level outcomes; assessment of upstream factors in population health nursing practice; social determinants of health and neighborhood disadvantage; food insecurity across the lifespan; and nursing theory development.
- PhD, Kent State University, Kent, Ohio, 2020
- MSN, The University of Akron, Akron, Ohio, 1993
- Diploma, Idabelle Firestone School of Nursing, Akron City Hospital, Akron, Ohio, 1985
- Board Certified Gerontological Clinical Nurse Specialist (GCNS-BC), American Nurses Credentialing Center
Office of Nursing Research and Innovation
9500 Euclid Ave / T4
Cleveland, Ohio 44195
Dr. Distelhorst has developed and executed several notable nursing programs throughout her career. These include a dementia management program, geriatric in-home services program and a cross-cultural exchange program between Malone University and University College Lillebaelt in Odense, Denmark. Dr. Distelhorst has also collaborated with local community agencies for important population health initiatives at Cleveland Clinic South Pointe Hospital, such as the Accountable Health Communities program and a medically tailored meal program for older adults being discharged from the hospital. In her role as a clinical nurse specialist, she has mentored many nurses in professional nursing practice and leadership through shared governance.
Clinical Practice & Teaching
Dr. Distelhorst has more than 25 years of experience as a gerontological clinical nurse specialist, with expertise in community health and medical-surgical nursing. She has worked in multidisciplinary teams providing comprehensive geriatric assessment in the home and outpatient clinic. She also provided consultation for geriatric nursing care for patients in the hospital and home health settings.
Dr. Distelhorst’s academic experience as an assistant professor of nursing and adjunct faculty includes instruction at the undergraduate and graduate levels in the areas of medical-surgical, community health, and geriatric nursing. She coordinated junior and senior level curriculum for the undergraduate program at Malone University. Dr. Distelhorst has developed and taught graduate-level online courses, including advanced practice nursing role development and clinical nurse specialist practicum.
Research & Publications
Dr. Distelhorst’s publications have included peer reviewed nursing journals, a book chapter, nursing simulation scenarios for a national publication company, and community newsletters. She has numerous poster and podium presentations at local, national, and international venues on topics related to population health, transitional care, cross-cultural nursing, and nursing shared governance.
2022 – Publications and Presentations
Pustinger, L, Burchill, C.N., Stetz, K., & Distelhorst, K.S. (2022). Exploring the lived experience of families waiting for surgical patients. AORN Journal, 116 (1), 34-44. http://doi.org/10.1002/aorn.13711
Distelhorst, K.S. & Hansen, D.M. (2022). Neighborhood Matters for Transitional Care and Heart Failure Hospital Readmission in Older Adults. Geriatric Nursing, 47, 183-190. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.gerinurse.2022.07.014
Distelhorst, K. Upstream to downstream: the impact of neighborhood and food insecurity on access to care and healthcare utilization. Podium presentation at Northeast Ohio Clinical Nurse Specialists Fall Conference 2022, Cleveland, Ohio. November 2022.
Distelhorst, K. Using a conceptual framework to guide your research: Nursing and population health. Guest presentation at Kent State University College of Nursing Brown Bag Series, Kent, Ohio. October 2022.
2021 – Publications and Presentations
Siegmund, L. & Distelhorst, K. (2021). Relationships between physical activity, social isolation, and depression among older adults during COVID-19: A path analysis. Geriatric Nursing, 42, 1240-1244. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.gerinurse.2021.08.012
Distelhorst, K., Graor, C., & Hansen, D. (2021). Upstream Factors in Population Health: A Concept Analysis to Advance Nursing Theory. Advances in Nursing Science, 44 (3), 210–223. https://doi.org/10.1097/ANS.0000000000000362
Distelhorst, K., Bena, J., Morrison, S. & Albert, N. (2021). Factors Associated with Pre- versus Post-Discharge Scheduling for Early Follow-up Appointments. Journal of Cardiovascular Nursing, Vol. 36, No. 2, pp. 151–156. https://doi.org/10.1097/JCN.0000000000000685
Distelhorst, K., Adams, K, Lopez, R., Tang, A. Food Insecurity and Neighborhood as Predictors of Hospital Readmissions. Poster presentation at the National Institutes of Health Workshop - Food Insecurity, Neighborhood Food Environment, and Nutrition Health Disparities: State of the Science, Virtual. September 2021.
Distelhorst, K., Adams, K. Health Care Utilization and Neighborhood Disadvantage in Patients with Food Insecurity. Podium presentation at American Academy of Ambulatory Care Nursing, Virtual. April 2021.
Distelhorst, K., Adams, K, Lopez, R., Tang, A. Hospital Readmission and Neighborhood Disadvantage in Patients with Food Insecurity. Poster presentation, Cleveland Clinic Nursing Research Conference, Virtual. April 2021.
Distelhorst, K. Understanding the Effects of Social Determinants of Health on Health Outcomes. Panel Discussion, Midwest Nursing Research Society 45th Annual Research Conference, Virtual. March 2021.
2020 – Publications and Presentations
Distelhorst, K. Neighborhood Matters for Transitional Care and Heart Failure Hospital Readmission. Journal of Cardiac Failure. 2020 October; 26(10):S122-S123. Poster presentation, Heart Failure Society of America Annual Scientific Meeting, Virtual. October 2020.
Distelhorst, K., Bena, J., Morrison, S. & Albert, N. (2020). Factors Associated with Pre- versus Post-Discharge Scheduling for Early Follow-up Appointments. Journal of Cardiovascular Nursing, 36(2), 151-156. doi: 10.1097/JCN.0000000000000685.
2019 – Publications and Presentations
Distelhorst, K., Lybrook, T. & Shaikh, J. (2019, April). Effect of earplugs on quality of sleep in hospitalized patients. Podium and poster presentation, Annual Clinical Research Conference, Cleveland, OH.
Tai, H. & Distelhorst, K. (2019, May). Keeping No-Show and Admission Rates Low. Poster presentation at American Academy of Ambulatory Care Nurses Annual Conference, Palm Springs, CA.
2018 – Publications and Presentations
Distelhorst, K., Claussen, R., Dion, K., Bena, J., Morrison, S., Walker, D. Tai, H. & Albert, N. (2018). Factors Associated with Adherence to 14-day Office Appointments After Heart Failure Discharge. Journal of Cardiac Failure, 24 (6).
Wyss, L. & Distelhorst, K. (2018, October). Putting Theory to the Test in Culturally Diverse Clinical Settings. Panel discussion, Annual Conference of the Transcultural Nursing Society, San Antonio, TX. [International].
2017 – Publications and Presentations
Simon, J., Vanderbilt, A. & Distelhorst, K. (2017). Geriatrics. In Modic, M. & Canfield, C (eds.). Navigating Your Hospital Stay: A guide written by expert nurses. Pennsauken, NJ: BookBaby.
Distelhorst, K. & Claussen, R. (2017, September). Factors Associated with Adherence to Early Follow-up Appointments in Heart Failure. Podium and poster presentation, Heart Failure Society of America Annual Scientific Meeting, Grapevine, Texas.
Albert, N. M. & Distelhorst, K. (2017, September). Association of Early Post-Discharge Visit after Heart Failure Admission and 30-day Post-Discharge Outcomes. Poster presentation, Heart Failure Society of America Annual Scientific Meeting, Grapevine, Texas.
Distelhorst, K. (2017, April). Factors Associated with Adherence and Scheduling of Early Follow-Up Appointments in Heart Failure. Podium and poster presentation, Annual Clinical Nursing Research Conference, Cleveland, OH
- Member, Transcultural Nursing Society
- Member, National Association of Clinical Nurse Specialists
- Member, Midwest Nursing Research Society
- Member, Sigma Theta Tau International Honor Society of Nursing; Member, Pi Chi Chapter; Past Faculty Advisor
Honors & Awards
- Heart Failure Society of America Nursing Research Award, Runner Up, September 2017
- Nancy M. Albert Excellence in Nursing Research Award, Cleveland Clinic, Cleveland OH, May 2017
- Faculty Development Institute Grant, Geriatric Nursing Education Consortium, Washington, DC, October 2007
- Development Fund Grant, Dementia Management Program, United Way of Summit County, Akron, OH, January 1998