Student Research and Honors Projects

Students have the opportunity to perform independent or collaborative research and pursue Honors Projects. The John Wesley Powell Student Research Conference, held in April each year, provides a public forum where students may present their research projects.

Scholarships are available to support student research, such as the Eckley Summer Scholars and Artists Endowment. Molly Guenette '14, a 2013 Eckley winner, looked at job satisfaction in Illinois school nurses.

The Student Honors Papers collection represents exemplary work in nursing at Illinois Wesleyan University. The Ames Library is proud to archive these and other honors projects in Digital Commons @ IWU, the University's online archive of student, faculty and staff scholarship and creative activity.

Amy Clapp
Dr. Noel Kerr (left) with Amy Clapp (right). Midwest Nursing Research Society, 43rd Annual Research Conference,
Kansas City, MO on 03/28/19

Student Research Spotlight

Amy Clapp '19

Effects of Weighted Blankets on College Students' Anxiety

by Amy Clapp

Background: Many mental health disorders, including anxiety, are identified during young adulthood when students are beginning college. Therapies such as weighted blankets may provide anxiety relief, but information about the use of weighted blankets for students is lacking.

Purpose: To compare the effect of weighted versus regular blankets on anxiety, sleep, and GPA in a sample of undergraduate students.

Conceptual framework:  Measurements were operationalized through the Overall Anxiety Severity and Impairment Scale (OASIS).

Methods: A pilot study using a convenience sample with random assignment was conducted. Participants (N  = 32) self-identified as belonging to one of three groups: not experiencing anxiety, having anxiety and not taking medication, and having anxiety and taking medication. Participants were randomly assigned to use a weighted or standard blanket throughout the fall 2018 semester and asked to complete three online surveys including items about sleep and the OASIS. SPSS Version 25 was used to analyze descriptive and parametric statistics. A 2 (Blanket type: weighted, regular) x 3 (Anxiety type: no anxiety, anxiety without medication, anxiety with medication) mixed-model ANOVA was completed to analyze the effects of blanket type on sleep, anxiety, and GPA.

Findings: There was a statistically significant relationship between blanket type and quality of sleep. There was also a potentially, clinically significant relationship between blanket type and level of anxiety.

Conclusions: Weighted blankets may be helpful in improving sleep quality and decreasing anxiety among college students. The findings provide insight into how complementary and alternative therapies could be aligned with care provided for students by university health and counseling services, and evidence-based practice in mental health nursing.