Photo of Dunn, Susan L

Susan L Dunn, PhD, RN, FAHA, FAAN

Associate Professor and Department Head

Department of Biobehavioral Nursing Science


Building & Room:

716 NURS


845 S. Damen Ave., MC 802, Chicago, IL 60612

Office Phone:



Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death and disability in the United States. Hopelessness has been identified in 27-52% of patients with ischemic heart disease and is predictive of death and adverse events. Studies with healthy individuals have demonstrated that increased physical activity leads to decreased hopelessness. Yet, most individuals with heart disease do not meet current American Heart Association exercise recommendations in either hospital-based or home settings. Hopeless individuals, in particular, feel incapable of helping themselves in making needed lifestyle changes.

I have conducted research focused on hopelessness in patients with heart disease for over 14 years. Findings from my NINR-funded dissertation research demonstrated that hopelessness is prevalent in patients with ischemic heart disease. Based on these findings, I led several studies that resulted in the development and testing of the State-Trait Hopelessness Scale. I additionally discovered an association between decreased home-based exercise and increased state hopelessness in patients with ischemic heart disease.  My current NIH/NINR-funded (R01) study examines the effectiveness of a novel motivational intervention called Heart Up!, aimed to decrease state hopelessness through increased physical activity in patients with ischemic heart disease. An NIH/NINR supplement to my R01 study examines how the impact of COVID-19 shelter-in-place/physical distancing measures and life changes on health outcomes are limited/moderated by the Heart Up! intervention.

Throughout my research career, I have worked closely with a multidisciplinary team of researchers from the fields of psychology, kinesiology, communications, and statistics. I have a long-standing record of including undergraduate and graduate students in my research, publications, and conference presentations. Other topics that I am interested in include motivation for exercise and social support in cardiac patients.

Selected Grants

NINR 1R01NR017649-01, 2018-2023, A Randomized Controlled Trial to Reduce Hopelessness through Enhanced Physical Activity in Adults with Ischemic Heart Disease, PI

NINR R01 NR017649-04S1, 2020-2022, COVID-19 Administrative Supplement, PI

Selected Publications

(# denotes data-based)

Dunn, S. L., Robbins, L., Tintle, N. L., Collins, E. G., Bronas, U. G., Goodyke, M. P., Luong, A., Gutierrez-Kapheim, M., & DeVon, H. A. (2021). Heart Up! RCT protocol to increase physical activity in cardiac patients who report hopelessness: Amended for the COVID-19 pandemic. Research in Nursing and Health, 1-16.

#Dunn, S. L., DeVon, H. A., Collins, E. G., Luong, A. T., Buursma, M., Gutierrez-Kapheim, M., & Bronas, U. B. (2020). Suicide risk management protocol for a randomized controlled trial of cardiac patients reporting hopelessness. Nursing Research. doi:10.1097/NNR.0000000000000474. Epub ahead of print. PMID: 32956255.

#Dunn, S. L., Buursma, M., Boven, E., DeVon, H. A., & Tintle, N. L. (2020). Reliability and validity of the State-Trait Hopelessness Scale in heart disease patients with moderate to severe hopelessness. Journal of Cardiovascular Nursing, 35(2), 126-130. doi:10.1097/JCN.0000000000000647

#Buursma, M., Tintle, N. L., Boven, E., DeVon, H. A., & Dunn, S . L. (2019). Perceived social support in ischemic heart disease patients who report hopelessness: A pilot study. Archives of Psychiatric Nursing. Advance online publication:

#Dunn, S. L., Robbins, L. B., Smith, S. W., Ranganathan, R., DeVon, H. A., Collins, E. G., Hong, H. G., & Tintle, N. L. (2019). Enhancing physical activity in cardiac patients who report hopelessness: Feasibility testing of an intervention. Health Education Journal. doi:10.1177/0017896918813610

#Dunn, S. L., DeVon, H. A., Vander Berg, L., & Tintle, N. L. (2019). Ethnic minority members may be at risk for state hopelessness following hospitalization for ischemic heart disease. Archives of Psychiatric Nursing. doi:10.1016/j.apnu.2018.10.002

#Dunn, S. L., Sit, M. J., DeVon, H. A., Makidon, D. M., & Tintle, N. L. (2017). Dog ownership and dog walking: The relationship with exercise, depression and hopelessness in patients with ischemic heart disease. Journal of Cardiovascular Nursing. doi:10.1097/JCN.0000000000000418

#Dunn, S. L., Dunn, L. M., Rieth, N. P, Olamijulo, G. B., Swieringa, L. L., Holden, T. P., Clark, J. A., DeVon, H. A., & Tintle, N. L. (2017). Impact of home- and hospital-based exercise in cardiac rehabilitation on hopelessness in patients with coronary heart disease. Journal of Cardiopulmonary Rehabilitation and Prevention, 37(1), 39-48. doi:10.1097/HCR.0000000000000205

#Dunn, S. L., Dunn, L. M., Buursma, M. P., Clark, J. A., Vander Berg, L., DeVon, H. A., & Tintle, N. L. (2016). Home and hospital-based cardiac rehabilitation exercise: The important role of physician recommendation. Western Journal of Nursing Research.Advanced online publication. doi:10.1177/0193945916668326

#Dunn, S. L., Olamijulo, G. B., Fuglseth, H. L.,Holden, T. P., Swieringa, L. L., Sit, M. J.,Rieth, N. P., & Tintle, N. L. (2014). The State-Trait Hopelessness Scale: Development and testing. Western Journal of Nursing Research, 36(4), 552-570. doi:10.1177/0193945913507634

Notable Honors

2019, Fellow of the American Academy of Nursing (FAAN), American Academy of Nursing

2016, Fellow of the American Heart Association (FAHA), American Heart Association

2016, Best Faculty Paper Award, Midwest Nursing Research Society MNRS/WJNR Sage

2008, New Investigator Award, American Association of Cardiovascular and Pulmonary Rehabilitation (AACVPR)


2005: Doctor of Philosophy, Nursing Science, Michigan State University

1996: Master of Science, Nursing Science, Grand Valley State University

1984: Bachelor of Science, Nursing, University of Michigan