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Mary H. Palmer, PhD, RNC, FAAN, AGSF

Helen W. & Thomas L. Umphlet Distinguished Professor in Aging
Gerontology, Research, Women’s Health


The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
School of Nursing
Carrington Hall, CB #7460
Chapel Hill, NC 27599-7460

Office: 533

Currently Accepting PhD Students

Dr. Palmer is the Helen W. and Thomas L. Umphlet Distinguished Professor in Aging at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Nursing. She is the author of over 100 research papers and book chapters on urinary incontinence and other lower urinary tract symptoms in older adults and women. In collaboration with Dr. Kefang Wang, Shandong University, China, she developed and tested the Toileting Behaviors – Women’s Elimination Behaviors Scale (TB-WEB) to quantify behaviors women use for urinary elimination and to identify behaviors that could compromise bladder health. The TB-WEB has been translated into multiple languages.

Dr. Palmer chairs the Steering Committee of the Prevention of Lower Urinary Tract Symptoms (PLUS) a 7-center research consortium funded by National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. She also serves on the External Expert Panel of the Lower Urinary Tract Dysfunctions Research Network funded by National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. Dr. Palmer is the project director of the First Quality Bladder Health Initiative at the School of Nursing, providing educational and research opportunities for students, visiting international scholars, and faculty. Dr. Palmer is chair of the American Geriatrics Society Public Education Committee and she serves on the Editorial Boards of Geriatric Nursing, International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, and Faculty of 1000 Medicine.

Dr. Palmer was the co-chair of the 6th International Consultation on Incontinence’s Committee on Primary Prevention, Continence Promotion, Models of Care and Education. She served as a member of the Advisory Council of the NIH Office of Research on Women’s Health from 2015-2018, and she was named Faculty of the Year for 2014 and 2015 by the Faculty of Medicine 1000 in Urology.

Dr. Palmer received her B.S.N. and M.S. degrees from the University of Maryland at Baltimore, her Ph.D. from The Johns Hopkins University School of Hygiene and Public Health (now JHU Bloomberg School of Public Health), and her M.F.A. in Creative Writing from Goddard College. She received her postdoctoral research training at the Behavioral Sciences Laboratory, Gerontology Research Center, National Institute on Aging, The National Institutes of Health. Dr. Palmer is a fellow of the American Academy of Nursing, the Gerontological Society of America, and the American Geriatrics Society.


2017 Appointed Chair, Public Education Committee, American Geriatrics Society
2016 F1000 Faculty Member of the Year Award 2015 for Urology
2015 Appointed to the Advisory Committee, NIH Office of the Director, Office of Research on Women’s Health 2015-2018
2015 F1000 Faculty Member of the Year Award 2014 for Urology
2014 Carolina Women’s Health Research Faculty Scholar Award, Fall 2014
2014 Nominated for Faculty Award for Excellence in Mentorship and Education, Doctoral Student Organization, UNC, School of Nursing.
2014 Appointed Vice-Chair, Public Education Committee, American Geriatrics Society 2014-2016
2012 Senior Scientist, Institute on Aging, The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
2010 Fellow, American Geriatrics Society
2009 National Association for Continence and American Geriatrics Society Rodney Appell Continence Care Champion Award
2009 Outstanding Service, Public Education Committee, American Geriatrics Society
2008 The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Institute of Arts and Humanities, Academic Leadership Program, Fellow
2005 Urologic Nursing, Nurse Competence in Aging Literary Excellence Award
1998 Urinary Continence: Assessment and Promotion selected as one of Brandon/Hill Selected List of Nursing Books and Texts, Nursing Outlook 46(10), 7-18.
1997 Urinary Continence: Assessment and Promotion selected by Doody’s Rating Service as one of the 250 Best Health Sciences Books.
1997 The National Institutes of Health, NIH Director’s Award, CC/NINR Group Award.
1996 Fourth Annual Faye G. Abdellah U.S. Public Health Service Publication Award.
1994 Maryland Nurses’ Association/American Journal of Nursing 1994 Writing Competition.
1994 Second Annual Faye G. Abdellah U.S. Public Health Service Publication Award.
1993 Special Act or Service Award, National Institute of Nursing Research
1992 Excellence in Nursing, Sigma Theta Tau, Pi Chapter.
1992 Fellow, American Academy of Nursing.
1992 Fellow, Gerontological Society of America.

Click here for a list of publications in PubMed.

Book Chapters limited to 2015–2017

Newman, D.K., (chair), Cowan, R. Griebling, T., van Houten, P. & Palmer, M.H. (co-chair). Primary prevention, continence promotion, models of care and education. (2017). In P. Abrams, L. Cardozo & S. Khoury & A. Wein (Eds). International Consultation on Incontinence 6th edition. Plymouth, UK: Health Publications Ltd.

Palmer, M.H. (2016). Urologic Health Promotion. In Newman, D. & Wyman, J. (Eds). Core curriculum in urologic nursing 1st edition. Society of Urologic Nurses and Associates.

Palmer, M.H. (2016). Pressure Ulcers. Practical Considerations in Prevention and Treatment. In Arenson, C., Busby-Whitehead, J., Durso, C., Fiatarone-Singh, M., Mosqueda, L., Swagerty, D.  & Reichel, W. (Eds). Reichel’s Care of the Elderly 7th Ed. New York: Cambridge University Press.

Markland, A., Busby-Whitehead, J., Palmer, M.H. & Johnson, T. (2016). Urinary incontinence and fecal incontinence. In In Arenson, C., Busby-Whitehead, J., Durso, C., Fiatarone-Singh, M., Mosqueda, L., Swagerty, D.  & Reichel, W. (Eds). Reichel’s Care of the Elderly 7th ed. New York: Cambridge University Press.

Palmer, M.H. (2015). Urinary Incontinence and Lower Urinary Tract Symptoms in the Older Adult. In Doughty, D. & McNichol, L. Wound, Ostomy and Continence Nurses Society Core Curriculum. Philadelphia: Wolters Kluwer.

Peer reviewed publications limited to 2012–2018

Brady, S., Bavendam, T., Berry, A., Fok, C., Gahagan, S., Goode, P., Hardacker, C., Herbert-Bernie, J., Lewis, C., Lewis, J., Low, L., Lowder, J., Palmer, M.H., Wyman, J. & Lukacz, E. (2018). Wyman JF, Lukacz ES; Prevention of Lower Urinary Tract Symptoms (PLUS) Research Consortium. The prevention of lower urinary tract symptoms (PLUS) in girls and women: Developing a conceptual framework for a prevention research agenda. Neurourology & Urodynamics, 2018 Aug 22. doi: 10.1002/nau.23787. [Epub ahead of print] doi:10.1002/nay.23787.

Harlow, B.L., Bavendam, T.G., Palmer, M.H., Brubaker, L., Burgio, K.L., Lukacz, E.S., Miller, J., Mueller, E., Newman, D.K., Rickey, L., Sutcliffe, S., & Simons-Morton, D. (2018). The PLUS research consortium: a transdisciplinary approach toward promoting bladder health and preventing lower urinary tract symptoms in women across the life course. Journal of Women’s Health. 27(3):283-289. doi: 10.1089/jwh.2017.6566. Epub 2017 Sep 15.

Zhou, F., Newman, D. & Palmer, M.H. (2018). Urinary urgency in working women: What factors are associated with urinary urgency progression? Journal of Women’s Health. 27(5):575-583. doi: 10.1089/jwh.2017.6555. Epub 2018 Feb 2.

Lukacz, E.S., Bavendam, T.G., Berry, A., Brady, S.S., Fok, C.S. Gahagan, S., Goode, P.S., Hardacker, C.T., Hebert-Beirne, J., Lewis, C.E., Lewis, J., Low, J.K., Lowder, J.L., Palmer, M.H. & Smith, A.L. (2018). A Novel Definition of Bladder Health in Women and Girls: Implications for Research and Public Health Promotion. Journal of Women’s Health. May 24. doi: 10.1089/jwh.2017.6786. [Epub ahead of print] PMID: 29792542.

Chen, M-C., Palmer, M.H. & Lin, S.Y. (2018). Creating a conceptual model for family caregivers of older adults intervention research: A narrative review of learned resourcefulness, resourcefulness, and the transtheoretical model. Geriatric Nursing. Mar 21. pii: S0197-4572(18)30073-9. doi: 10.1016/j.gerinurse.2018.02.012. [Epub ahead of print] PMID: 29573892.

Jung, A., Nielsen, M., Crandell, J., Palmer, M.H., Bryant, A., Smith, S. & Mayer, D. (2018). Quality of life in non-muscle-invasive bladder cancer survivors: A systematic review. Cancer Nursing, doi.10.1097/NCC.0000000000000606.

Long, J.E. Khairat, S., Chmelo, E. & Palmer, M.H. (2018). Mind over Bladder: Women, Aging and Bladder Health. Geriatric Nursing.39(2):230-237. doi: 10.1016/j.gerinurse.2017.09.003. [Epub ahead of print].

Palmer M.H., Willis-Gray M.G., Zhou F., Newman D.K., & Wu J.M. (2017). Self-reported toileting behaviors in employed women: Are they associated with lower urinary tract symptoms? Neurourology & Urodynamics. 2017 Jul 3. doi: 10.1002/nau.23337. [Epub ahead of print] PubMed PMID: 28671729.

Chang C.J., Pei D., Wu C.C., Palmer M.H., Su C.C., Kuo S.F. & Liao Y.M. (2017). Correlates of nocturia and relationships of nocturia with sleep quality and glycemic control in women with Type 2 diabetes. Journal of Nursing Scholarship. 49(4):400-410. doi: 10.1111/jnu.12302. Epub 2017 May 23. PubMed PMID: 28544465.

Galbraith-Gyan K.V., Lechuga J., Jenerette C.M., Palmer M.H., Moore A.D. & Hamilton J.B. (2017). HPV vaccine acceptance among African-American mothers and their daughters: an inquiry grounded in culture. Ethnicity & Health. 29:1-18. doi: 10.1080/13557858.2017.1332758. [Epub ahead of print] PubMed PMID: 28553758.

Palmer, M. H. & Willis-Gray, M. (2017). Update on Overactive Bladder in Women. American Journal of Nursing. 117(4), 34-41. doi: 10.1097/01.NAJ.0000515207.69721.94.

Meng, Q., Busby-Whitehead, J. & Palmer, M.H. (2016). Absorbent products use and symptom distress in women who have urinary incontinence and heart failure. International Journal of Clinical Practice 70(12), 1019-1026. doi: 10.1111/ijcp.12910.

Bretschneider, C.E., Nieto M., Geller, E.J., Palmer, M.H. & Wu, J.M. (2016). The association of the Braden Scale and postoperative morbidity following urogynecologic surgery. Urologic Nursing. 36(4), 191-197.

Park, J. & Palmer, M.H. (2016). Response to Sumer and Colleagues. Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, 64(2), 457-8. doi: 10.1111/jgs.13961.

Park, J., Lavelle, J. & Palmer, M.H. (2016). Voiding dysfunction in older women with overactive bladder symptoms: a comparison of urodynamic parameters between women with normal and elevated post-void residual urine. Neurourology & Urodynamics. 35(1);95-9. doi: 10.1002/nau.22689.

Park, H.K., Chang, S., Palmer, M.H. & Choi, H. (2015). Assessment of the impact of male urinary incontinence on health-related quality of life: A population-based study. Lower Urinary Tract Symptoms, 71: 22-6. doi. 10.1111/luts.

Palmer, M.H., Marquez, C., Li, Y, Hawkins, S., Smith, F. & Busby-Whitehead, J. (2015). A Feasibility Study for a Post-Hospital Intervention for Lower Urinary Tract Symptoms in Adults with Heart Failure. Journal of Wound, Ostomy and Continence Nursing. 42(5):539-46. doi: 10.1097/WON.0000000000000163.

Park, J. & Palmer, M.H. (2015). Factors associated with incomplete emptying in older women who have overactive bladder symptoms. Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, 63(7), 1426-31. doi: 10.1111/jgs.13474 .

DeGagne, J, Park, S., So, A., Wu, B. Palmer, M.H., McConnell, E. (2015). A urinary incontinence continuing education online course for community health nurses in South Korea. Journal of Continuing Education in Nursing. 46(4):171-178. doi:10.3928/00220124-201150320-02.

Palmer, M.H. & Newman, D. K. (2015). Women’s toileting behaviors: An online survey of female advanced practice providers.  International Journal of Clinical Practice, 69(4):429-35. doi: 10.1111/ijcp.12592.

Song, L., Rini, C., Deal, A. Nielsen, M, Kinneer, P., Teal, M., Johnson, D., Dunn, M. Mark, B. & Palmer, M.H. (2015). Improving couples’ quality of life through a web-based couple-oriented prostate cancer education intervention. Oncology Nurses Forum, 42(2):183-92. doi: 10.1188/15.ONF.183-192.

Park, S., De Gagne, J. So, A. & Palmer, M.H. (2015) Knowledge, Attitudes, Beliefs, and Practices in Registered Nurses and Care Aids about Urinary Incontinence in Korean Nursing Homes: A Cross-Sectional Survey. Journal of Wound, Ostomy and Continence Nursing 42(2), 183-189, doi: 10.1097/WON.0000000000000095.

Hong, G-R., Kang, H-K. & Park, J. & Palmer, M.H. (2014). Activities of daily living and cognitive status: Associations with urinary incontinence. International Journal of Urological Nursing, 8(3), 130-6.

Wu, C., Wang, K., Sun, T., Xu, D. & Palmer, M.H. (2014). Predicting help-seeking intention of women with urinary incontinence in Jinan, China: A theory of planned behavior model. Journal of Clinical Nursing. May 10. doi: 10.1111/jocn.12623.

Wagg, A., Gibson, W., Hermanns, R., Kuchel, G., Johnson, T. Palmer, M.H. & Szonyi, G. (2014). Urinary incontinence in frail elderly persons: Report from the 5th International Consultation on Incontinence. Neurourology & Urodynamics. Apr 2. doi: 10.1002/nau.22602.

Palmer, M.H., Marquez, C., Kline, K., Morris, E. & Carlson, B. (2014). Hydrate for Health. Listening to Older Adults’ Need for Information. Journal of Gerontological Nursing. 40(10):24-30. doi: 10.3928/00989134-20140721-02. PMID: 25275782.

Carlson, B. & Palmer, M.H. (2014). Nocturia in older adults. Implications for nursing practice and aging in place. Nursing Clinics of North America, 49(2), 233-250. doi: 10.1016/j.cnur.2014.02.009.

De Gagne, J., So, A., Oh, J., Park, S. & Palmer. M.H. (2013). Socio-demographic and health indicators of older women with urinary incontinence: 2010 national survey of residential care facilities. Journal of the American Geriatrics Society 61(6), 981-986. doi: 10.1111/jgs.12258.

Palmer, M.H., Athanasopoulos, A., Lee, K.-S., Takeda, M., & Wyndale, J. (2012). Sociocultural and environmental influences on bladder health. International Journal of Clinical Practice. 66(12), 1132-1138. doi. 10.1111/ijcp.12029.

Lindeman, K., Li, Y., & Palmer. M.H. (2012). Help-seeking behavior for urinary incontinence in adults with heart failure [letter to the editor]. Journal of the American Geriatrics Society. 60(10), 1994-1995. doi. 10.1111/j.1532-5415.2012.04176.x.

Nyrop, K., Grover, M., Palsson, O., Heymen, S., Palmer, M.H., Whitehead, W., & Busby-Whitehead, J. (2012). Likelihood of nursing home referral for focally incontinent elderly patients is influenced by physician views on nursing home care and outpatient management of fecal incontinence. Journal of the American Medical Directors Association 13(4), 350-4. doi. 10.1016/j.jamda.2011.01.010.

So, A., DeGagne, J., & Palmer, M.H. (2012). Prevalence of urinary incontinence in older Korean women. International Journal of Urological Nursing, 6(2), 51-59.doi.10.1111/j.1749-771X.2012.01147.x.

Baumgarten, M., Rich, S., Shardell, M., Hawkes, W., Margolis, D., Langenberg, P., Orwig, D., Palmer, M.H., et al. (2012). Care-Related Risk Factors for Hospital-Acquired Pressure Ulcers Among Elderly Hip Fracture Patients. Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, 60(2), 277-283. doi.10.1111/j.1532-5415.2009.02245.x.

  • Geriatrics, Gerontology, and Aging
  • Lower Urinary Tract Symptoms, Bladder Health
  • Geriatric Education
  • Interdisciplinary & Interprofessional post-graduate education