NPHF/Procter & Gamble Endowed Scholarship in Gastroenterology Past Award Winners


Suzanne M. Fontecchio, RN—is currently completing a Master of Science in Nursing degree with a Family Nurse Practitioner concentration, through Clarion, Edinboro and Slippery Rock Universities of Pennsylvania. She also has a Bachelor of Arts in Communication. Suzanne works as an RN at Hamot Medical Center in the Transitional Care Unit. Suzanne is studying the relationship between self-efficacy and adherence to a gluten-free diet for patients who suffer from celiac disease. If her hypothesis proves correct, that a high level of self-efficacy corresponds with a high level of adherence, this could give health care providers a means of determining who will have greater adherence to a gluten-free diet and who might need greater intervention to maintain adherence. Her research has heightened her awareness of the variable presentations of celiac disease, and increased her knowledge about accurate diagnostic testing. The knowledge gained from this research will enable her to reach out to her family practice patients who are living with celiac disease.

Update from research:

The Relationship of Self-Efficacy to Gluten-Free Diet Adherence

Christopher Conn, RN, BSN, BC
Nina Doré, RN, BSN
Suzanne Fontecchio, RN, BSN


    Celiac disease is a multisystem disorder affecting 1% to 2% of the population in the United States (Presutti, Cangemi, Cassidy, & Hill, 2007). The only treatment for the disease is strict adherence to a gluten-free diet (Green & Cellier, 2007). O’Leary et al. (2004) found only 50% of celiac patients are completely adherent, and non-adherence leads to complications including osteoporosis, infertility and increased risk of small bowel malignancy (Liu, 2006). This study utilized Resnick’s (2003) theory of self-efficacy and the restorative process as a conceptual framework.

    The General Self-Efficacy Scale (GSE), developed by Schwarzer and Jerusalem (1995), was used to determine the level of self-efficacy of celiac patients. The study authors developed a survey to be used with the GSE to determine diet adherence. The scores on both surveys were examined to determine if there is a relationship between an individual’s self-efficacy and diet adherence. Participants included celiac patients (n=37).

A significant positive relationship was found to exist between diet adherence scores and GSE scores (r= 0.549, p=0.000). A higher GSE score was associated with a higher diet adherence score, and a lower GSE score was associated with a lower diet adherence score. The results call for further research which relates self-efficacy to diet adherence. These results may impact the way nurse practitioners and other healthcare providers approach diet education with a newly diagnosed celiac patient.


Jennifer Hill Jennifer Hill, MN, FNP—A nurse for 10 years, Jennifer has experience in NICU, geriatrics, academics and gastroenterology. Raised in Iowa, she gives back to her home state, working in the pediatric gastroenterology department at Blank Children’s Health Center in Des Moines. Jennifer is constructing a plan to open a clinic for children with obesity-related gastrointestinal health concerns. Through this clinic, overweight children will learn about their health problem, then meet with gastroenterologists, NPs, dietitians, counselors, personal trainers and other experts. In addition, Jennifer plans to distribute educational materials (handouts, DVDs and presentations) to school nurses and other appropriate influencers of care.
Update: Jeniifer graduated with her Doctorate of Nursing Practice from the University of Iowa.  She has a specialty in pediatrics gastroenterology.  She continues to work at the Blank Children's Health Center serving pediatric patients, one-third of whom are from underserved populations.  Jenniver is a preceptor for NP students, a clinical instructor with the Graceland University in Independence, Missouri, and also works at the Drake Student Health Clinic.  She is a seasoned presenter with the PESI Healthcare Speaker's Bureau and published author.  Jennifer is an active member in 12 nurse practitioner and pediatric care associations.  She serves on the Governor's Council on Physical Fitness and Nutrition as well as serving her community with other organizations.