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. Dr. Palmer has conducted interdisciplinary research on the prevalence, incidence, risk factors for, and correlates of urinary incontinence in adults. In the mid-1990s she created a conceptual model that addressed primary, secondary, and tertiary prevention of urinary incontinence, which has become widely adopted. In collaboration with Dr. Kefang Wang, Shandong University, China, she developed 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’s research with working women has found that many women encounter environmental barriers and engage in behaviors that may threaten continence and bladder health.

Dr. Palmer is a member of the Advisory Council of the NIH Office of Research on Women’s Health and serves on the Editorial Boards of Geriatric Nursing, Journal of Korean Academy of Nursing, International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, and Faculty of 1000 Medicine. She chairs the Steering Committee of the Prevention of Lower Urinary Tract Symptoms (PLUS) 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. Dr. Palmer was a member of the 6th International Consultation on Incontinence’s Committee on Primary Prevention, Continence Promotion, Models of Care and Education, 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 of the Gerontology Research Center, National Institute on Aging, 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.



Appointed Chair, Public Education Committee, American Geriatrics Society

F1000 Faculty Member of the Year Award 2015 for Urology

Faculty of 1000 Medicine: Faculty of the Year Award 2014 for Urology
Appointed to the Advisory Committee, NIH Office of the Director, Office of Research on Women’s Health 2015-2018

Carolina Women’s Health Research Faculty Scholar Award, Fall 2014
Nominated for Faculty Award for Excellence in Mentorship and Education, Doctoral Student Organization, UNC, School of Nursing.
Appointed Vice-Chair, Public Education Committee, American Geriatrics Society 2014-2016

Senior Scientist, Institute on Aging, The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Fellow, American Geriatrics Society

National Association for Continence and American Geriatrics Society Rodney Appell Continence Care Champion Award
Outstanding Service, Public Education Committee, American Geriatrics Society

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Institute of Arts and Humanities, Academic Leadership Program, Fellow

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 2012–2017

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