Susan C. Vonderheid, PhD, RN

  • Clinical Assistant Professor

Dr. Vonderheid's interests include the development and evaluation of interventions that improve the quality of care and subsequently, reduce persistent health disparities and health care costs. Dr. Vonderheid’s first area of research focuses on evaluating the effectiveness of an innovative model of group visit prenatal care (CenteringPregnancy) compared to traditional prenatal care to improve women’s psychosocial well-being and healthy behaviors and subsequently, improve infant health outcomes. This research also examines the mechanisms that contribute to CenteringPregnancy’s potential effects on health outcomes and care utilization during pregnancy and postpartum. Dr. Vonderheid also developed English and Spanish measures of knowledge, self-efficacy, and health behaviors related to pregnancy and parenting, a Spanish measure of empowerment-related to pregnancy; and process evaluation tools for providers and researchers to examine the fidelity of the group visit model of prenatal care, Centering Pregnancy. A second area of research is the cost of health services. As a co-investigator, Dr. Vonderheid examines the health care utilization and costs of interventions to improve maternal and infant outcomes among preterm infants. As a consultant, Dr. Vonderheid works with nurses and other disciplines to develop and evaluate interventions such as health education to improve patient satisfaction and reduce adverse health outcomes among obese pediatric patients, a modified early warning system to improve patient health and safety outcomes, and lactation education for maternity nurses to improve patient breastfeeding outcomes.

Dr. Vonderheid collaborates with experts in disciplines of nursing, midwifery, medicine, public health, psychology, sociology, anthropology, and health care economics. Her close collaboration with women’s health clinicians, adminstrators and her clinical background in neonatal and pediatric nursing inform her research.


Current Area of Teaching

Dr. Vonderheid teaches research methods at the graduate level. She also works with undergraduate students completing independent studies focused on research methods and Honor’s student’s evidence-based practice and research projects.

Selected Publications

Klima, C., Vonderheid, S.C., Norr, K. & Park, C. (submitted). Development of the Pregnancy-Related Empowerment Scale.

Vonderheid, S.C, Klima, C., Norr, K.F., Grady, M. & Westdahl, C. Using Focus Groups and Social Marketing to Strengthen Promotion of Group Prenatal Care, Advances in Nursing Science, 36(4):320-35.

Holditch-Davis, D., White-Traut, R., Levy, J., Williams, K.L, Ryan, D., & Vonderheid, S. (2013). Maternal Satisfaction with Administering Infant Interventions in the NICU. Journal of Gynecology and Neonatal Nursing, 42, 641-654.

Patil, C., Abrams, E.T., Klima, C., Kaponda, C.P.N., Leshabari, S.C., Vonderheid, S.C, Kamanga, M., Norr, K. Innovative Group Antenatal Care: A Strategy for Meeting Global Health Goals in Africa. Journal of Midwifery and Women’s Health, 29(10):1190-8.

Vonderheid, S.C., Kishi, R., Klima, C. & Norr, K. (2011) Group Prenatal Care and Doula Care for Pregnant Women. In Handler, A., Peacock, N., Kennelly, J. (Eds), Population-based interventions for reducing racial/ethnic disparities in perinatal outcomes (pp. 369-400). New York, New York: Springer. ISBN 978-1-4419-1498-9.

Garcia, R., Vonderheid, S.C. McFarlin, Djonlich, M., Maghirang, J., Jang, C. (2011) "Cost and infant health outcomes associated with mandatory MRSA screening in a Special Care Nursery". Advances in Neonatal Care, 11(3) 200-7. 

Rossman, B., Meier, P.P., Engstrom, J.L., Vonderheid, S.C., Norr, K.F., Hill, P.D. (2011). “They’ve Walked in my Shoes” Mothers of Very Low Birth Weight Infants and their Experiences with Breastfeeding Peer Counselors in the NICU. Journal of Human Lactation, 27(1): 14-24.

Kishi, R., McElmurry, Vonderheid, S., Altfeld, S., & McFarlin, B (2011)."Japanese women’s experiences from pregnancy through early postpartum period" Health Care for Women International, 32(1): 57-71. PMID:21154074

Kominiarek, M., Vonderheid, S., & Endres, L.K, (2010) Maternal Obesity: Do Patients Understand the Risks? Journal of Perinatology, 30(7):452-8. PMID:20410907.

Muangpin, S. Tiansawad, S. Kantaruksa, K., Yimyam, S. Vonderheid, S.  (2009). Northeastern Thai Adolescents Perceptions of being Unmarried and Pregnant”. Pacific Rim International Journal of Nursing Research,14(2), April-June.

Vonderheid, S., Pohl, J., Tanner, C.L., Newland, J. & Gans, D. (2009). CPT Coding Patterns at Nurse Managed Health Centers: Data from a National Survey. Nursing Economics (27)4,211-220. PMID: 19753894

Klima, C., Norr, K.F., Vonderheid, S.C., & Handler, A.S. Introduction of CenteringPregnancy® In a Public Health Clinic (2009) Journal of Midwifery and Women's Health, 54(1):27-34. PMID: 19114236.

Vonderheid, S.C. & Kishi, R. (2008). An innovative model for prenatal care: CenteringPregnancy®. Child Research Net.

Vonderheid, S.C., Klima, C. Norr, K.F. (2008). CenteringPregnancy® – A Group Model of Prenatal Care Holds Promise for Improving Access to and the Quality of Prenatal Care. Child Research Net.

Vonderheid, S.C., Norr, K.F. & Handler, A. Prenatal Health Promotion Content and Health Behaviors. (2007). Western Journal of Nursing Research, 29(3): 258-76, discussion 277-283. PMID:17420520.

Barkauskas, V.H. Schafer, P., Sebastian, J.G.,  Pohl, J., Benkert, R., Nagelkerk, J., Stanhope, M,

Vonderheid, S.C, & Tanner, C.L. (2006) Clients Served and Services Provided by Academic Nurse-Managed Centers. Journal of Professional Nursing, 22 (6), 331-8. PMID:17141716

Pohl, J.M., Vonderheid, S.C., Barkauskas, V.H., & Nagelkerk, J. Tracking Financial Date in Academic Nurse-Managed Centers: Insights for NP Practice. (2006). The American Journal for Nurse Practitioners, 10(4), 10-16. NLM UID: 101148830

Pohl, J., Vonderheid, S., Naglekerk, J. & Barkauskas, V. (2004). The Safety Net: Academic Nurse Managed Centers’ Role. Journal of Nursing Practice, Policy and Politics, 5(2): 84-94. NLM UID: 100901316

Barkauskas, V., Pohl, J., Breer, L., Tanner, C., Bostrum, A., Benkert, M., & Vonderheid, S. (2004) Academic Nurse-Managed Centers (ANMCs): Approaches to Evaluation. Outcomes Management, 8(1):57-66. PMID: 14740586.

Vonderheid, S., Pohl, J. Schaffer, P., Forrest, K. Poole, M. Barkauskas, V., & Mackey, T. (2004). Using FTE and RVU Performance Measures to Assess the Financial Viability of Academic Nurse-Managed Centers. Nursing Economics, 22(3): 124-134 . PMID: 15211915

Vonderheid, S.C., Montgomery, K. & Norr, K.F. (2003) Ethnicity and Prenatal Health Promotion Content Among Low-Income African-American and Mexican-American Women. Western Journal of Nursing Research, 25(4), 388-404. PMID: 12790055

Vonderheid, S., Pohl, J. Barkauskas, V., Gift, D., & Hughes-Cromwick, P. (2003) Financial Performance of Academic Nurse-Managed Primary Care Centers. Nursing Economics, 21(4),167-179. PMID: 14509875.

McIntosh, E. Naglekerk, J., Vonderheid, S.C. , Poole, M., Dontje, & J. Pohl. (2003). Financially Viable Nurse-Managed Centers. Nurse Practitioner: American Journal of Primary Health Care. 28(3), 40 – 51. PMID: 12800694.

Vonderheid, S.C. & Al-Gasseer, N. (June, 2002) World Health Organization and Global Health Policy.   Journal of Nursing Scholarship. 34(2), 109-110. PMID: 12078532

Current Research

National Institutes of Health, R21, 2013-2016.

Integrating HIV with Innovative Group Antenatal Care in Two African Countries NIH, Patil (PI).

Role: Co-I.

The goal of this study is to adapt and pilot an innovative, evidence-based model of group antenatal care (ANC) that will seamlessly integrate ANC, including HIV prevention and prevention of mother to child transmission (PTMCT), in sub-Saharan Africa within the constraints of provider and resource shortages.

University of Illinois at Chicago, College of Nursing, Internal Research Support Program, 2012-14

Role: Principal Investigator

Health Care for Women and Infants During the First Year of Life                                                         

The proposed pilot is an extension of our federally-funded Healthy Pregnancy Study that examines the impact of group prenatal care, Centering Pregnancy (CP), versus individual care (IC) on maternal and infant outcomes. The current protocol interviews women in both CP and IC during pregnancy and at one-week postpartum (Immediate Postpartum). This pilot will interview women at 6-8 months postpartum (Later Postpartum). We intend to utilize IRSP funds for two interrelated study aims:

A. To test two strategies (telephone contact versus postcard contact at three months postpartum) to maximize retention at the Later Postpartum interview; and,

B. To conduct Later Postpartum interviews with both CP and IC participants to obtain pilot data and form the basis for power analyses regarding whether participation in CP versus IC has an impact on Later Postpartum outcomes including breastfeeding, contraception use, preventive care use, intention to have annual preventive visit, and infant well-child care and immunization status. Interview information will also be used to examine factors associated with women’s intention to use annual preventive care in the year after delivery.

Maternal Child Health Bureau, Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), R40MC17174-01-00, 2009-2014

Role: Principal Investigator                                                

The goal of this prospective longitudinal study is to test the effects of individual and group (CenteringPregnancy) visit prenatal care for women of diverse ethnicities in diverse clinical settings across Illinois on the outcomes in late pregnancy (health knowledge, health behaviors, prenatal weight gain, intention to breastfeed and to use the recommended sleep position, perceived stress, depressive symptoms, anxiety, satisfaction with care, and visit adherence) ; birth outcomes (prematurity),birth (prematurity, low birth weight); and early postpartum (breastfeeding initiation and use of the recommended infant sleep position). We will also examine whether the effects of CenteringPregnancy are mediated by health promotion content, social support, and pregnancy-related empowerment.  This study will strengthen the evidence base for innovative models of prenatal care.

National Institute of Child Health and Human Development and the National Institute of Nursing Research, NIH, R01, 2007-2013, White-Traut, R. (PI).  

Role: Co-Investigator.

Feeding and Transition to Home for Premature Infants at Social Risk

This randomized clinical trial integrates participatory guidance for mothers of preterm infants and a multi-sensory massage intervention for preterm infants during the transition from gavage to oral feeding and hospital to home care, for mother-premature infant dyads who have at least two social-environmental risk factors. This study aims to reduce maternal anxiety and increase maternal understanding of premature infant behaviors and needs, to promote optimal infant growth and development, and to reduce health care costs by achieving earlier hospital discharge.