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Barbara J. Polivka, PhD, RN, FAAN

Barbara Polivka portrait
Professor, School Of Nursing

Associate Dean, Research, SON-Kansas City

Professional Background

Dr. Barbara Polivka is the Associate Dean for Research and Professor at the University of Kansas School of Nursing. She received her Baccalaureate and Masters’ Degree in Nursing from the University of Cincinnati and her PhD in Nursing from The Ohio State University. Previously Dr. Polivka was Professor and Shirley B. Powers Endowed Chair at the University of Louisville.

Dr. Polivka’s programs of research have focused on environmental health and on health services research. She has been funded as principle investigator by the National Institutes of Health, National Institute of Aging, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), as well as from local, state, institutional, and foundations entities. She is widely published in nursing and interdisciplinary journals.

Dr. Polivka is a Fellow in the American Academy of Nursing, serves on the Editorial Board of Public Health Nursing, served on the NIH Healthcare and Health Disparities Study Section, and reviews for multiple nursing and interdisciplinary journals. She is an active member of the American Public Health Association, the American Thoracic Society, American Nurses Association, Sigma Theta Tau International Nursing Society, Midwest Nursing Research Society, and the Association of Community Health Nurse Educators. She has taught across all levels including community health nursing with undergraduates, public health nursing with graduate students, determinants of health disparities with PhD students. She has mentored a number of doctoral students (both PhD and DNP), masters, and undergraduate honors students.

Dr. Polivka has received multiple honors in her career including the Ruth B. Freeman Award from the Public Health Nursing Section of the American Public Health Association, the Dean Marcia J. Hern Research Award, and the Ohio Department of Health Healthy Homes Achievement Award.

Education and Training
  • BSN, Nursing, University of Cincinnati College of Nursing and Health, Cincinnati, Ohio
  • MSN, Nursing, University of Cincinnati College of Nursing and Health, Cincinnati, Ohio
  • PhD, Nursing, The Ohio State University Graduate School, Columbus, Ohio
Licensure, Accreditations & Certifications
  • Registered Nurse, Kansas Nursing Board
  • Registered Nurse, Ohio Board of Nursing
Professional Affiliations
  • American Academy of Nursing, Environment and Public Health Expert Panel, Chair, 2022 - 2024
  • American Academy of Nursing, Environment and Public Health Expert Panel, Vice Chair, 2020 - 2021
  • American Academy of Nursing, Environment and Public Health Expert Panel , Chair Elect, 2019 - Present
  • American Academy of Nursing, Member, 2016 - Present
  • International Home Care Nurses Organization , Member, 2016 - 2017
  • Alliance of Nurses for Healthy Environments (AHNE), Co-Chair, 2015 - 2018
  • Council for the Advancement of Nursing , 2017 Advance Methods Conference, Planning Committee, Co-Chair, 2014 - Present



Scholarship focused on environmental health. Dr. Polivka has been funded and published in the areas of lead poisoning prevention, poison prevention, Healthy Homes, and home asthma trigger reduction. Dr. Polivka's primary interest involves addressing and mitigating hazards encountered in the home by residents and by home healthcare providers. To that end she was funded by the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency to develop and implement Healthy Homes education for undergraduate/pre-licensure nursing students. That work evolved into securing RO1 funding from the NIOSH in which a virtual simulation training system for home health workers to identify and mitigate fire/electric, slip/trip/fall, and environmental hazards encountered in client homes was developed and tested. Dr. Polivka was also a Principal Investigator on an RO1 funded study by the NIH National Institute on Aging which identified phenotypes of older adults with asthma as well as longitudinally assessed the impact of volatile organic compounds and other home environmental triggers on asthma in older adults. Dr. Polivka is currently funded by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences to determine the feasibility and usability of Ecological Momentary Assessment (EMA) and home air quality monitoring to assess self-reported residential environmental exposures and asthma symptoms in real-time.

Scholarship focused on health services research. Dr. Polivka worked with a multi-disciplinary team to develop, implement, and evaluate a disaster surge curriculum specifically for public health nurses. Dr. Polivka was the PI on a funded study analyzing the differences between actual public health nursing position descriptions and published standards/competencies for public health nurses. More recently Dr. Polivka explored moral distress in emergency department nurses and cancer experiences of Muslim cancer survivors, polypharmacy and methacholine challenge testing for older adults with asthma, and the impact of COVID_19 on nursing and hand hygiene station and fatigue among nurses working in long-term care.

Current Research and Grants
  • The Changing COVID-19 Landscape: A Feasibility Study to Capture Momentary Residential Environmental Exposures and Asthma Symptoms in Adults, National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, National Institute of Health, PI, PI
  • iAmHealthy Parents First, National Institutes of Health, PI
  • Cai, Hui, Garcia, Amy, Polivka, Barbara, Spreckelmeyer, Kent, Yang, Frances., M.. 2023. Visibility and Accessibility of Hand Hygiene Stations and Fatigue Among Nurses Working in Long-Term Care (LTC) During the COVID-19 Pandemic. HERD-HEALTH ENVIRONMENTS RESEARCH & DESIGN JOURNAL, 16 (2), 24-37
  • Grande , M., Eldeirawi, K. , Polivka , Barbara , Huntington-Moskos , L., Nyenhuis, S. . 2023. Food and Housing Insecurity and its Effect on Asthma Control During the Covid-19 Pandemic. Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, In Practice
  • Nyenhuis, S, Cramer, E, Grande, M, Huntington-Moskos, L, Krueger, K, Bimbi, O, Polivka, B, Eldeirawi, K. 2022. Utilizing Real-time Technology to Assess the Impact of Home Environmental Exposures on Asthma Symptoms: Protocol for an Observational Pilot Study.. JMIR research protocols, 11 (8), e39887
  • Polivka, B., J, Eldeirawi, K, Huntington-Moskos, L, Nyenhuis, S., M. 2022. Mask Use Experiences, COVID-19, and Adults with Asthma: A Mixed-Methods Approach.. The journal of allergy and clinical immunology. In practice, 10 (1), 116-123
  • Polivka, B., J, Huntington-Moskos, L, Folz, R, Barnett, R. 2022. Chemicals in the Home That Can Exacerbate Asthma.. The American journal of nursing, Published Ahead of Print
  • Wright, M., I, Polivka, B, Odom-Forren, J, Christian, B., J. 2021. Normalization of Deviance: Concept Analysis.. ANS. Advances in nursing science
  • Eldeirawi, K, Huntington-Moskos, L, Nyenhuis, S., M, Polivka, B. 2020. Increased disinfectant use among adults with asthma in the era of COVID-19.. The journal of allergy and clinical immunology. In practice
  • Castner, J., Barnett, R., Huntington-Moskos, L., Polivka, B.., J.. 2020. Home environment allergen exposure scale: Comparing theory-driven, dimension reduction, and biomarker-based methods.. Canadian Journal of Public Health , 201
  • Cavallazzi, R., S, Polivka, B., J, Beatty, B., L, Antimisiaris, D., E, Gopalraj, R., K, Vickers-Smith, R., A, Folz, R., J. 2020. Current bronchodilator responsiveness criteria underestimate asthma in older adults.. Respiratory Care, 65 (8), 1104-1111
  • Lavender, S.., A., Polivka, B.., J., Darragh, A.., R., Sommerich, C.., M., Stredney, D.., L., Wills, C.., E.. 2019. Evaluating home healthcare workers' safety hazard detection ability using virtual simulation.. Home Healthcare Now, 37 (5), 265-272