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Brenna Quinn

Brenna Quinn faculty bio headshot image
Dr. Brenna QuinnAssistant Professor
  • CollegeZuckerberg College of Health Sciences
  • DepartmentSusan and Alan Solomont School of Nursing
  • Phone(978) 934-4433
  • OfficeHealth and Social Sciences Building - 363

Research Interests

Pain in children with intellectual disability

Evaluation of pain for hospitalized children with severe-profound intellectual disability, school nurse approaches to pain assessment for students with intellectual disability, special education teacher approaches to identifying pain in the classroom setting


  • Ph D: Nursing, Population Health, (2015), University of Massachusetts Boston - Boston, MA
    Dissertation/Thesis Title: School Nurse Pain Assessment Practices for Students with Mild to Profound Special Needs
  • MS: Nursing, (2013), University of Massachusetts Boston - Boston, MA
  • BS: Nursing, Pre-Licensure, (2011), University of Massachusetts Lowell - Lowell, MA


Dr. Quinn is an assistant professor in the School of Nursing, College of Health Sciences at the University of Massachusetts Lowell. A doctorally prepared nurse researcher, she is also a nationally certified school nurse. Dr. Quinn currently provides direct nursing care to children with intellectual disabilities (ID) and complex medical needs on a part-time basis outside of her duties as a faculty member.

She has presented research related to pediatric pain and school health internationally. Brenna trains school nurses throughout the country on pain and pain assessment in schoolchildren with IDDs. She has conducted both team and independent research related to pain assessment in children. For her dissertation, she designed and implemented a web-based survey to evaluate school nurses’ pain assessment practices. The survey was qualitative with a content analysis of open-ended responses. Her most recent project involved collaboration with the UMass Lowell Psychology Department. This study aimed to identify common pain behaviors school teachers and specialists observed in students with IDDs, and to determine the decision-making process staff members used when referring a student in suspected pain to the health office. Focus groups were utilized as a data collection method for this qualitative study.

Brenna is also involved in both quality improvement and original research projects aiming to improve experiences for children and families with IDDs at Boston Children’s Hospital. Here, she collaborates with nurses, physicians, and other project staff from the Complex Care Service and the Pain Treatment Service within the Department of Anesthesiology, Perioperative, and Pain Medicine to increase efficiencies in the medical and nursing evaluation process for children with limited or no verbal abilities presenting with pain behaviors of unknown origin.

Outside of her clinical research areas, Brenna takes interest in examining theory-guided research, seamless education in nursing, and student success in nursing programs.


  • Quinn, B., Smolinski, M. (University of Massachusetts Lowell) (2017) "Improving School Nurse Pain Assessment Practices for Students With Intellectual Disability," Journal of School Nursing
  • Quinn, B. (2017) "Precepted experiences for doctoral student nurses," Creative Nursing 23:2 pp. 124-128
  • Quinn, B., Peters, A.A. (2017) "Strategies to Reduce Nursing Student Test Anxiety: A Literature Review," Journal of Nursing Education 56:3 pp. 145-151
  • Quinn, B. (2016) "Engaging Nursing Students in an Edible Pharmacological Concepts Lesson," Nurse Educator 41:6 pp. 286-287
  • Quinn, B. (2016) "Using Theory Integration to Explore Complex Health Problems.," Advances in Nursing Science 39:3 pp. 235 - 243
  • Quinn, B. (2016) "‘It’s Not Easy’: School Nurse Pain Assessment Practices for Students with Special Needs.," Pain Management Nursing 17:2 pp. 119 - 131
  • Quinn, B. (2016) "School Nurse Pain Assessment Practices for Students with Intellectual/Developmental Disabilities," Eastern Nursing Research Society Annual Scientific Sessions
  • Quinn, B., Seibold, E., Hayman, L. (2015) "Pain assessment in children with special needs: A review of the literature," Exceptional Children 82:1 pp. 44-57
  • Quinn, B., Sheldon, L.K., Cooley, M.E. (2014) "Pediatric pain assessment by drawn faces scales: A review," Pain Management Nursing 15:4 pp. 909-918
  • Quinn, B. (2014) "To the editor," Nursing Education Perspectives 35:6 pp. 402
  • Quinn, B. (2014) "The ‘Seamless’ Model of Nursing Education," AJN, American Journal of Nursing 114:10 pp. 11

Contracts, Fellowships, Grants and Sponsored Research

  • Research Grant (2014), Sponsored Research - National Association of School Nurses
    Quinn, B.
  • Research Grant (2014), Sponsored Research - Sigma Theta Tau Eta Omega Chapter
    Quinn, B.
  • Total Student Health (2016), Grant - University of Massachusetts, Lowell Internal Seed Grant
    Mangano, K. (Co-Principal), Thind, H.K. (Principal), Quinn, B. (Co-Principal), ElGhaziri, M. (Co-Principal)