Lonnie Nelson

Lonnie Nelson
Associate Professor, Spokane (573) 424-0888 SNRS 414B 412 Spokane Falls Blvd., Spokane, WA 99202 https://nursing.wsu.edu/directory/directory-profile/?nid=LONNIE.NELSON

Lonnie Nelson is an Associate Professor at the College of Nursing. He has extensive clinical and research experience in neurocognitive assessment and in rehabilitation interventions for people with brain injury. As an American Indian with origins in the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, Dr. Nelson is also engaged in research, education, and training to improve the health and well-being of Native Americans. His research uses a community-based approach to ensure that all activities result in long-term improvements in the lives of participating community members. His past efforts include extensive assessment and rehabilitation of soldiers returning from military deployment with blast-related brain injury. Other previous research includes neurocognitive and physical assessments of American Indian elders for the Strong Heart Stroke Study, which enrolled members of twelve tribal communities in three states; and neurocognitive, physical, and brain MRI assessments of community-dwelling American Indians in the Seattle metropolitan area for a pilot program of the University of Washington Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center. From 2006 to 2008, Dr. Nelson was a trainee in the long-running, highly successful Native Investigator Development Program of the Native Elder Research Center, which is funded by the National Institute on Aging. This program prepares American Indian and Alaska Native professionals at the PhD and MD level for independent careers in research to redress population health disparities. Since 2009, Dr. Nelson has been a faculty mentor with the Native Investigator Development Program.


  • Postdoctoral Fellowship in Rehabilitation Neuropsychology, University of Washington, Seattle, WA
  • PhD in Clinical Psychology, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ Postdoctoral Fellowship in Rehabilitation Neuropsychology, University of Washington, Seattle, WA
  • MA in Psychology, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ
  • BA in Psychology, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ

Research Strengths

1) Research, education, and interventions to mitigate health disparities among American Indians and Alaska Natives, 2) career training to prepare underserved minorities at the professional level for independent research programs in population health disparities, and 3) screening, diagnosis, and treatment of traumatic brain injury.

Methodological Strengths

  • Epidemiology of American Indian and Alaska Native health disparities
  • Clinical trials
  • Development and evaluation of behavioral interventions
  • Mixed methods research
  • Patient-centered outcomes research

Honors & Awards

  • National Institutes of Health Loan Repayment Program Awardee, American Indian and Alaska Native health disparities, 2014-present
  • Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality/University of Washington Patient-Centered Outcomes Research K12 Career Development Award, 2012
  • Energy Medicine Fellowship, Canyon Ranch, Tucson, AZ, 1997
  • Sacred Mountain Science and Engineering Scholarship (NASA NGT-90028 1990), 1993

Funded Research

  • R01MH106419 (Nelson, Comtois- NIMH) 06/01/16 – 05/31/21
    Caring Texts: A Strength-based, Suicide Prevention Trial in 4 Native Communities
  • P60AA026112 (Buchwald (Center PI)/Nelson PI project 2) 12/15/17 – 11/30/22
    Harm Reduction Talking Circles (HaRTC) for Urban American Indians and Alaska Natives with Alcohol Use Disorder
  • U54MD000507 (Manson, Nelson – NIMHD)
    American Indian and Alaska Native Health Disparities Specialized Center of Excellence
  • R01MD014035 05/13/19 – 01/31/24
    American Indian CHronic disEase RIsk and Sleep Health (AI-CHERISH)
  • R01AG064493 09/01/19 – 05/31/24
    URBAn Native Elders (URBANE): Risk and Protective Factors for Alzheimer’s and Related Dementias
  • R61DA049376 08/01/19 – 07/31/21
    Counseling for Harm Reduction and Retention in Medication-assisted treatment – Cherokee Nation (CHaRRM-CN)

Selected Publications

*Carty C, Noonan C, Muller C, Saner D, Reiman E, Buchwald D, Bell R, Nelson L. Risk Factors for Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Dementia Diagnoses in American Indians. Ethn Dis. 2020; 30(4):671-680.

Collins SE, Clifasefi SL, Nelson LA, Stanton J, Goldstein SC, Taylor EM, Hoffmann G, King VL, Hatsukami AS, Cunningham ZL, Taylor E, Mayberry N, Malone DK, Jackson TR. Randomized controlled trial of harm reduction treatment for alcohol (HaRT-A) for people experiencing homelessness and alcohol use disorder. Int J Drug Po. 2019;67:24-33. Epub 2019/03/10. doi: 10.1016/j.drugpo.2019.01.002. PubMed PMID: 30851620; PubMed Central PMCID: PMCPmc6488431.

*Lee N, Noonan CJ, Umans JG, Nelson L. HPV Knowledge and Attitudes Among American Indian and Alaska Native Health and STEM Conference Attendees. Int. J. Indig. Health 2019;14:205-21.

Zamora-Kapoor A, Sinclair K, Nelson L, Lee H, Buchwald D. Obesity risk factors in American Indians and Alaska Natives: a systematic review. Public Health, 2019;174:85-96.

*Lee NR, Winer RL, Cherne S, Noonan CJ, Nelson L, Gonzales AA, Umans JG, Buchwald D, Collaborative to Improve Native Cancer O. Human Papillomavirus Prevalence Among American Indian Women of the Great Plains. J. Infect. Dis. 2018: jiy600-jiy. doi: 10.1093/infdis/jiy600.

Senturia K, Fiset L, Hort K, Huebner C, Mallott E, Milgrom P, Nelson L, Parrish C, Cunha‐Cruz J. Dental health aides in Alaska: A qualitative assessment to improve paediatric oral health in remote rural villages. Community Dentistry and Oral Epidemiology. 2018;0(0). Epub June 4. doi: doi:10.1111/cdoe.12385.

Collins SE, Clifasefi SL, Stanton J, Straits KJE, Gil-Kashiwabara E, Rodriguez Espinosa P, Nicasio AV, Andrasik MP, Hawes SM, Miller KA, Nelson LA, Orfaly VE, Duran BM, Wallerstein N. Community-Based Participatory Research (CBPR): Towards Equitable Involvement of Community in Psychology Research. Am Psychol. 2018. doi: 10.1037/amp0000167.

Goins RT, Schure M, Jensen P, Suchy-Dicey A, Nelson L, Steven Verney S, Howard B, Buchwald D. Lower Body Functioning and Correlates among Older American Indians: The Cerebrovascular Disease and Its Consequences in American Indians Study. BMC Geriatr. (In Press)

*Gonzales KL, Garcia GE, Jacob MM, Muller C, Nelson L, Manson SM. Patient–provider relationship and perceived provider weight bias among American Indians and Alaska Natives. Obesity Science & Practice. Online ISSN: 2055-2238.

Wendt DC, Collins SE, Nelson LA, Serafini K, Clifasefi SL, Donovan DM. Religious and Spiritual Practices Among Home-less Urban American Indians and Alaska Natives with Severe Alcohol Problems. Am Indian Alsk Native Ment Health Res (Online). 2017;24(3):39-62. PMID: 29161454

Collins SE, Orfaly VE, Wu T, Chang S, Hardy RV, Nash A, Jones MB, Mares L, Taylor EM, Nelson LA & Clifasefi, SL. Content analysis of homeless smokers’ perspectives on established and alternative smoking interventions. Int J Drug Policy. Nov 13; 51:10-17. doi: 10.1016/j.drugpo.2017.09.007

*Thayer Z, Barbosa-Leiker C, McDonell M, Nelson L, Buchwald D, Manson S. Early life trauma, post-traumatic stress disorder, and allostatic load in a sample of American Indian adults. American journal of human biology : the official journal of the Human Biology Council. 2017;29(3). Epub 2016/12/03. doi: 10.1002/ajhb.22943. PubMed PMID: 27901290; PubMed Central PMCID: PMCPmc5432430.

Cholerton B, Omidpanah A, Madhyastha TM, Grabowski TJ, Suchy-Dicey A, Shibata DK, Nelson LA, Verney SP, Howard BV, Longstreth WT, Montine TJ, Buchwald D. Total Brain and Hippocampal Volumes and Cognition in Older American Indians: The Strong Heart Study Alzheimer Dis Assoc Disord. 31(2): 94-100.PMCID: PMC5492994

*Zamora-Kapoor A, Omidpanah A, Nelson LA, Kuo AA, Harris R, Buchwald DS. Breastfeeding in Infancy Is Associated with Body Mass Index in Adolescence: A Retrospective Cohort Study Comparing American Indians/Alaska Natives and Non-Hispanic Whites. J Acad Nutr Diet. 2017 Jul; 117(7): 1049-1056. PMCID: PMC5586593

*Zamora-Kapoor A, Nelson L, Buchwald D. Maternal correlates of body mass index in American Indian/Alaska Native and White adolescents: Differences between mother/son and mother/daughter pairs. Eat Behav. 2016 Jan; 20:43-7. doi: 10.1016/j.eatbeh.2015.11.002. PMID: 26643590

*Zamora-Kapoor A, Nelson LA, Barbosa-Leiker C, Comtois KA, Walker LR, Buchwald DS. Suicidal ideation in American Indian/Alaska Native and White adolescents: The role of social isolation, exposure to suicide, and overweight. Am Indian Alsk Native Ment Health Res. 2016;23(4):86-100. PMID: 27536899

*Zamora-Kapoor A, Nelson LA, Buchwald DS, Walker LR, Mueller BA. Pre-eclampsia in American Indians/Alaska Natives and Whites: The Significance of Body Mass Index. Matern Child Health J. 2016. PMID: 27461024

Collins SE, Taylor E, King VL, Hatsukami AS, Jones MB, Lee C-Y, Lenert J, Jing JM, Barker CR, Goldstein SC, Hardy RV, Kaese G, Nelson, LA. Suicidality among chronically homeless people with alcohol problems attenuates following exposure to Housing First. Suicide Life Threat Behav. 2016. PMID: 27061738

Collins SE, Jones CB, Hoffmann G, Nelson L, Hawes SA, Grazioli VS, Mackelprang JS, Holttum J, Kaese G, Lenert J, Herndon P, & Clifasefi S L. In their own words: Content analysis identifying pathways to recovery among homeless individuals with alcohol use disorders. Int J Drug Policy. 2016;27:89-96.

Nelson LA, Zamora-Kapoor A. Challenges in conducting mHealth research with underserved populations: Lessons learned. J Telemed Telecare. 2015. PMID: 26468214

Harris R, Nelson LA, Muller C, Buchwald D. Stroke in American Indians and Alaska Natives: A Systematic Review. Am J Public Health. 2015;105(8):e16-26. PMCID: PMC4504319

*Huyser KR, Manson SM, Nelson L, Noonan C, and the Special Diabetes Program for Indians Healthy Heart Demonstration Project. Serious psychological distress and diabetes management among American Indians and Alaska Natives. Ethn Dis. 2015; 25(2): 145-151. PMCID: PMC4497797

*Bassett DR, Nelson L, Rhoades DA, Krantz EM, Omidpanah A. A national study of social networks and perceptions of health among urban American Indian/Alaska Natives and non-Hispanic Whites. J Biosoc Sci. 2013; doi: 10.1017/S0021932013000679.

Grant TM, Brown NN, Graham JC, Whitney N, Dubovsky D, Nelson L. Screening in treatment for fetal alcohol spectrum disorders that could affect therapeutic progress. Internat J Alcohol Drug Res. 2013; 2(3): 37-49. doi: 10.7895/ijadr.v2i3.116.

*Jacob MM, Gonzales KL, Calhoun D, Beals J, Muller CJ, Goldberg J, Nelson L, Welty TK, Howard BV. Psychological trauma symptoms and Type 2 diabetes prevalence, glucose control, and treatment modality among American Indians in the Strong Heart Family Study. J Diabetes Complications. 11// 2013;27(6):553-557. doi: 10.1016/j.jdiacomp.2013.07.008

Nelson L, Noonan C, Goldberg J, Buchwald D. Social engagement and physical and cognitive health among American Indian participants in the Health and Retirement Study. J Cross Cult Gerontol. 2013; 28(4) 453-463. doi: 10.1007/s10823-013-9213-6

Ney JP, van der Goes DN, Nuwer MR, Nelson L, Eccher MA. Continuous and routine EEG in intensive care: utilization and outcomes, United States 2005-2009. Neurology. 2013;81(23):2002-2008. doi: 10.1212/01.wnl.0000436948.93399.2a

Nelson LA, Macdonald M, Stall C, Pazdan R. Effects of interactive metronome therapy on cognitive functioning after blast-related brain injury: a randomized controlled pilot trial. Neuropsychology 2013;27:666-679. doi: 10.1037/a0034117

Cooper D, Nelson L, Armistead-Jehle P, Bowles A. Utility of the mild brain injury atypical symptoms scale as a screening measure for symptom over-reporting in operation enduring freedom/operation Iraqi freedom service members with post-concussive complaints. Arch Clin Neuropsychol. 2011; 26(08):718-727. doi: 10.1093/arclin/acr070

Terrio H, Nelson L, Betthauser L, Harwood J, Brenner L. Postdeployment traumatic brain injury screening questions: sensitivity, specificity, and predictive values in returning soldiers. Rehab Psychol. 2011; 56(01):26-31. doi: 10.1037/a0022685

Brenner L, Ivins BJ, Schwab K, Warden D, Nelson L, Jaffee M, Terrio H. Traumatic brain injury, posttraumatic stress disorder, and postconcussive symptom reporting among troops returning from Iraq. J Head Trauma Rehabil, 2010; 25(05):307-312. doi: 10.1097/HTR.0b013e3181cada03

Nelson L, Yoash-Gantz R, Campbell T, Pickett T. Relationship between processing speed and executive functioning performance among OEF/OIF veterans: implications for postdeployment rehabilitation. J Head Trauma Rehabil. 2009; 24(1):32-40. doi: 10.1097/HTR.0b013e3181957016

Slack D, Nelson L, Patterson D, Burns S, Hakimi K, Robertson L. The feasibility of hypnotic analgesia in ameliorating pain and anxiety among adults undergoing needle electromyography. Am J Phys Med Rehabil. 2009; 88(01):21-9. doi: 10.1097/PHM.0b013e31818e00bd


updated 12/1/2020