Skip to main content

Sheila Judge Santacroce

Beerstecher-Blackwell Distinguished Associate Professor Children’s Health, Family, Oncology, Palliative Care, Research, Survivorship 919.966.4298

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

Office: 5011

Currently Accepting PhD Students

Sheila Santacroce received her PhD in Nursing (emphasis: Human Responses to Illness) from The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and completed postdoctoral training in Advancing Care in Serious Illness (T32NR07036; PI: R. McCorkle) at University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing. Her research focuses on improving medical and quality of life outcomes for children, adolescents and young adults with serious chronic illness (cancer, HIV disease, stage 3-5 kidney disease) and their family members (parents, siblings). Her research interests include illness uncertainty, medical traumatic stress and post-traumatic growth, the psycho-neuro immunologic (PNI) symptom cluster, cancer survivorship, and cardiovascular outcomes of the cancer experience. Her methodological interests include designing and implementing intervention research, intervention fidelity, bio-behavioral methods and mixed methods. Her clinical background is in pediatric hematology-oncology (acute; long-term follow-up/late effects) and pediatric HIV/AIDS nursing.

Dr. Santacroce is PI/Director of the T32: Interventions for Preventing and Managing Chronic Illness, a pre- and postdoctoral research training program funded by the National Institute of Nursing Research (T32NR007091). She is a member of Carolina’s Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center [Cancer Prevention & Control Program] and serves on the Survivorship Advisory Board. She also serves on the Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation Nursing Advisory Board, and is a founder of the Children’s Inn at NIH and the HEROS clinic for childhood cancer survivors at Yale University.


2014 Editorial Board Writing Award, Journal of Pediatric Oncology Nursing
2013 Fellow, American Academy of Nurse Practitioners
2009 Founders’ Board, The Children’s Inn at NIH
1986  NIH W. G. Magnuson Clinical Center Nursing Department Award for special efforts in recruitment and retention, Cancer Nursing
1982 Sigma Theta Tau International Honor Society





Zebrack, B., Santacroce, S., Patterson, P. & Gubin, A. (in press). A biopsychosocial approach to caring for adolescents and young adults with  cancer. In A. Abrams A. Muriel & L. Wiener (Eds.) Pediatric psychosocial oncology: Textbook for multidisciplinary care. New York, NY: Springer.
Zebrack, B. & Santacroce, S. (2015). The adolescent-young adult patient. In J. Holland, W.  Breitbart, P. Jacobsen, M. Lederberg, M. Lascalzo & R. McCorkle (Eds.), Psycho-oncology (3rd ed.). New York: Oxford University Press.
Santacroce, S. (2013). Nursing. In P. Rubin, L. Constine, L. Mark, J. Williams, & J. Hansen for the American Society of Therapeutic Radiation Oncology (ASTRO) Health Services Research Committee (Eds.), Adverse late effects of radiation therapy (pp. 2273-284). New  York: Springer.
Santacroce, S. & Zebrack, B. (2010). The adolescent-young adult patient. In J. Holland, W. Breitbart, P. Jacobsen, M. Lederberg, M. Lascalzo & R. McCorkle (Eds.), Psycho-oncology (2nd ed., pp. 497-502). New York: Oxford University Press.
Knafl, K. & Santacroce, S. (2010). Chronic conditions and the family. In P. Jackson & J. Vessey (Eds.), Primary care of the child with a chronic condition (5th ed., pp. 74-89). St. Louis: Mosby
Santacroce, S. (2007). Assessment of the hematologic and lymphatic systems. In N. Wegner Ryan (Ed.), Core curriculum for pediatric nurses in primary care (pp. 115-125). Philadelphia: Elsevier Science.
Santacroce, S. (2007). Care of the child with common illness of the hematologic and lymphatic systems. In N. Wegner-Ryan (Ed.), Core curriculum for pediatric nurses in primary care (pp. 588-610). Philadelphia: Elsevier Science.
Knafl, K. & Santacroce, S. (2004). Chronic conditions and the family. In P. Jackson & J. Vessey (Eds.). Primary care of the child with a chronic condition (4th ed., pp. 44-59). St. Louis:Mosby.
Boland, M. & Santacroce, S. (1994). Nursing roles in care of children & families with HIV. In P. Pizzo & C. Wilfert (Eds.), Pediatric AIDS: The challenge of HIV infection in infants, children and adolescents (pp. 785-808). Baltimore: Williams & Wilkins.
McCalla, J., Santacroce, S. & Woolery-Antil, M. (1993). Nursing support for the child with cancer. In P. Pizzo &  D. Poplack (Eds.), Principles & practice of pediatric oncology (2nd ed., pp. 1059-1078). Philadelphia: W.B. Saunders.
Mc Calla, J. & Santacroce, S. (1989). Nursing support for the child with cancer. In P. Pizzo & D. Poplack (Eds.), Principles & practice of pediatric oncology. Philadelphia: W.B. Saunders.

Peer-Reviewed Papers/Articles

Docherty, S., Kayle, M., Maslow, G. & Santacroce, S. J. (2015). The adolescent and young adult with cancer: A developmental life course perspective. Seminars in Oncology Nursing. doi:10.1016/j.soncn.2015.05.006.
Swallow, V., Knafl, K., Santacroce, S. Campell, M., Hall, A. & Smith, T. (2014). A novel interactive health communication application (IHCA) for supporting parents managing childhood long-term conditions: Outcomes of a preliminary randomized controlled trial. Journal of Medical Internet Research-Research Protocols, 3, e69. doi:10.2196/resprot.3716
Swallow, V., Carolan, I., Smith, T., Webb, N., Knafl, K., Santacroce, S., Campbell, M., Harper- Jones, M. & Hall, A. (2014). Interactive Health Communication Application (IHCA) for parents of children with long-term conditions: Development, implementation and feasibility. Informatics for Health & Social Care, 13, 1-27.
Santacroce, S. & Crandell, J. (2014). Feasibility and preliminary findings from a pilot study of   allostatic load in adolescent-young adult (AYA) childhood cancer survivors and their siblings. Journal of Pediatric Oncology Nursing, 31, 122-134.
Swallow, V., Hall, A., Carolan, I., Santacroce, S., Webb, N., Smith, T., & Hanif, N. (2014). Designing a web application to support parents’ home-based care of childhood CKD: Qualitative study of family and professional requirements. BMC Nephrology, 15. doi:10.1186/1471-2369-15-34
Swallow, V., Knafl, K., Santacroce, S., Hall, A., Smith, T., Campbell, M. & Webb, N. (2012). The On-line Parent information and Support Project: Meeting parents’ information and support needs for home-based management of childhood chronic kidney disease research protocol. Journal of Advanced Nursing, 68, 2095-2102.
MacFayden, A., Swallow, V., Santacroce, S, & Lambert, H. (2011). Involving fathers in research. Journal for Specialists in Pediatric Nursing, 16, 216-9.   
Swallow V, MacFadyen A, Santacroce S and Lambert H. (2011). Fathers’ contributions to management of their children’s long-term medical conditions: a narrative review of the literature. Health Expectations, 2, 157-175.
Swallow, V., Lambert, H., Santacroce, S., & MacFadyen, A. (2011) Fathers and mothers developing skills in managing children’s long-term medical condition: How do their qualitative accounts compare? Child: Care, Health & Development, 37, 512-23
Santacroce, S., Asmus, K. Kadan-Lottick, N., & Grey, M. (2010). Feasibility and preliminary outcomes from a pilot study of Coping Skills Training for adolescent-young adult survivors of childhood cancer and their parents. Journal of Pediatric Oncology Nursing, 27, 10-20.
Schulman, L., Jacobs, L., Greenfield, S., Jones, B., McCabe, M., Syrjala, K., Diller, L., Shapiro, C., Marcus, A., Campbell, M., Santacroce, S., Kagawa-Singer, M. & Gantz, P. (2009). Cancer care and cancer survivorship care in the US – will we be able to care for these patients in the future? Journal of Oncology Practice, 5, 119-123.
Santacroce, S. (2009). Nursing roles with childhood cancer survivors: Using Uncertainty in Illness Theory to guide care. Japanese Journal of Pediatric Oncology Nursing, 4, 1-14.
Santacroce, S. (2008). Late effects clinic: Post-trauma symptoms in cancer survivors. Oncology-Nurse Edition, 22, 22-39.
Lee, Y. & Santacroce, S. (2007). Posttraumatic stress in long-term young adult survivors of childhood cancer: A questionnaire survey. International Journal of Nursing Studies, 44, 1406-17.
Lee, Y., Santacroce, S., & Sadler, L. (2007). Predictors of health behavior in long-term survivors of childhood cancer. Journal of Clinical Nursing, 16, 285-95.
Malbasa, T., Kodish, E., & Santacroce, S. (2007). Adolescent adherence to oral therapy for leukemia: A focus group study. Journal of Pediatric Oncology Nursing, 24, 139-151.
Santacroce, S. & Lee, Y-L. (2006). Uncertainty, posttraumatic stress and health behaviors in young adult childhood cancer survivors. Nursing Research, 55, 259-266.
Pagano-Therrien, J. & Santacroce, S. (2005). Bone mineral density decrements and children diagnosed with cancer. Journal of Pediatric Oncology Nursing, 22, 328-338.
Greving, D. & Santacroce, S. (2005). Cardiovascular late effects. Journal of Pediatric Oncology  Nursing, 22, 38-47.
Santacroce, S. Maccarelli, L. & Grey, M. (2004). Intervention fidelity. Nursing Research, 53, 63-66.
Santacroce, S. (2003). Parental uncertainty and symptoms of posttraumatic stress in serious childhood illness. Journal of Nursing Scholarship, 35, 45-51
Santacroce, S. (2002). Uncertainty, anxiety and symptoms of posttraumatic stress in parents of children recently diagnosed with cancer. Journal of Pediatric Oncology Nursing, 19, 104-111.
Santacroce, S., Deatrick, J. & Ledlie, S. (2002). Redefining treatment: How biological mothers manage their children’s treatment for perinatally-acquired HIV. AIDS Care, 14, 247-260.
Santacroce, S. (2001). Measurement of parental uncertainty during the diagnosis phase of life threatening illness in a child. Journal of Pediatric Nursing, 16, 3-12.
Santacroce, S. (2000). Support from health care providers and parental uncertainty during the diagnosis of perinatally-acquired HIV infection. Journal of the Association of Nurses in AIDS Care, 11, 63-75.
Santacroce, S., Deatrick, J. & Ledlie, S. (2000). Secondary analysis of qualitative data: A means of collaboration in HIV-related research. Journal of the Association of Nurses in AIDS  Care, 11, 99-104.
Santacroce, S. & Vincent, C. (2000). Perinatally-acquired HIV: Updated guidelines for prevention, diagnosis & initiation of treatment in infants. Nurse Practitioner, 11, 1-9.
Tudor-Williams, G., St. Clair, M., Mc Kinney, R., Maha, M., Walter, E., Santacroce, S., Mintz, M., Rudoll, T. & Vavro, C. (1992). Correlates of HIV-1 sensitivity to zidovudine in children. The Lancet, 339, 15- 19.
Butler, K., Husson, R., Balis, F., Brouwers, P., Eddie, J., El-Amin, D., Gress, J.,   Hawkins, M.,  Jarosinski, P., Moss, H., Poplack, D., Santacroce, S., Venzon, D., Wiener, L., Wolters, P. &    Pizzo, P. (1991). Dideoxycytidine in children with symptomatic HIV infection. New England Journal of Medicine, 324, 137-145.
Pizzo, P., Butler, K., Balis, F., Brouwers, P., Hawkins, M., Eddie, J., Einloth, M., Falloon, J.,Husson, R. Jarosinski, P., Meer, J., Moss, H., Poplack, D., Santacroce, S. et al. (1990). Dideoxycytidine alone & in an alternating schedule with zidovudine in children with  symptomatic HIV infection. Journal of Pediatrics, 117, 799- 808.
Santacroce, S., Wiener, L., & Schubert, W. (1987). Your child and children with AIDS: A Parent information booklet. Oncology Nursing Forum, 14, 83-5.




Research Training Grants

Title: Interventions for preventing and managing chronic illness. Agency: NIH/NINR (T32NR007091) Dates: 7/01/11-6/30/16. Role: PI (7/1/13-present); Co-I (7/01/10-6/30/13; PI: M. Mishel)
Title: Self- and family management. Agency: NIH/NINR (T32NR008346; PI: M. Grey, Yale University). Dates: 7/1/04-6/30/09. Role: Participating Faculty.
Title: Advancing care in serious illness. Agency: NIH/NINR T32NR07036: (PI: R. McCorkle, University of Pennsylvania). Dates: 9/1/97-8/31/98. Role: Postdoctoral trainee.
Title: Uncertainty & mothering the HIV seropositive infant (Co-Sponsors: M. Miles, M. Mishel). Agency: NIH/NINR (F31NR07015). Dates: 5/1/94-4/30/97. Role: Pre-doctoral trainee.

Research Grants

Title: Arterial stiffness in children who recently completed cancer therapy. Agency: Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation. Dates: 1/1/14-12/31/16. Role: PI.
Title: MR/PET in CNS and extra CNS tumors in patients with neurofibromatosis-1. Agency: UNC Brain Research Imaging Center Pilot Studies Program (PI: T. Geshon). Project Dates: 4/1/12-3/30/14. Role: Co-I.
Title: Uncertainty and the adolescent-young adult with congenital heart disease. Agency: American Nurses Foundation (PI: P. Moreland). Dates: 9/1/11-8/31/13. Role: Co-I.
Title: Younger women with breast cancer: Uncertainty management. Agency: NIH/NINR (R010190-06A2; PI M. Mishel). Dates: 6/01/09-5/31/10. Role: Co-I.
Title: Survivors of cancer: Adolescents and young adults. Agency: The Donaghue Foundation, PI: N. Kadan-Lottick). Dates: 7/1/07-6/30/09. Role: Co-I.
Title: Early identification of medical traumatic stress and its impact on children recently diagnosed with type-1 diabetes and their parents. Agency: NIH/NINR (P30NR008999 Pilot Program; P30 PI: M. Grey, Project PI: J. D’Ambrosino). Dates: 10/15/05-10/14/08. Role: Co-I.
Title: Monitoring fidelity to promote research integrity. Agency: NIH/NINR (R01NR009357). Dates: 9/30/04-9/29/07. Role: PI.
Title: Managing uncertainty in childhood cancer survivorship. Agency: NIH/NCI (R21CA106748). Dates: 9/01/04-8/31/07). Role: PI.
Title: Reducing post-trauma symptoms in parents of children newly diagnosed with cancer. Agency: NIH/NINR (P20NR07806 Pilot Studies Program; PI: M. Grey). Dates: 01/01/02-12/31/02. Role: PI.
Title: Parental uncertainty during diagnosis and treatment of cancer in a child. Agency: NIH/NINR (P30NR0400 Pilot Studies Program; PI: R. McCorkle). Dates: 04/01/99-03/31/00. Role: PI.
Title: Further psychometric evaluation of the Parental Perception of Uncertainty Scale-Diagnosis. Agency: Oncology Nursing Foundation. Dates: 3/1/99-2/28/00. Role: PI.
Title: Seropositive mothers’ management of their children’s treatment for HIV/AIDS. Agency: Association of Nurses in AIDS Care Princess Diana Nursing Research Grant. Dates: 11/01/98-10/31/99. Role: PI.
Title: Uncertainty and mothering the HIV seropositive infant. Agency: Sigma Theta Tau International Nursing Research Grant. Dates: 4/1/96-3/31/97. Role: PI ($3,000; no effort)

Other Research Activities

Title: OPIS (On-line Parent Information and Support) project: Meeting mother and fathers’ information and support needs for home-based management of childhood kidney disease stage 3-5. Agency: British NIHR (PB-PG 0110-21305; PI: V. Swallow, University of Manchester). Dates: 4/2011-10/2014. Role: Consultant
Title: Human patient simulation: Parent education enhancement. Agency: NIH/NINR (R01NR011317; PI: S. Sullivan-Bolyai). Dates: 7/1/2010-6/30/2014. Role: Data Safety Monitoring Board Member
Title: Fathers and mothers’ roles in managing their child’s chronic renal condition. Agency: British Renal Society (PI: V. Swallow). Dates: 2/2006-1/2009. Role: Consultant







  • Symptoms/acute and long-term effects of the cancer experience for young (i.e., childhood, adolescent, young adult) cancer patients/survivors and their family members
  • Relationships between risk/protective factors, cancer-related stress, stress responses and health outcomes, especially biomarkers of risk for cardiovascular disease in young cancer patients/survivors
  • Interventions to improve life/health care transitions and outcomes for young cancer patients/survivors