Elizabeth A. Schlenk

Associate Professor
Associate Dean for Graduate Clinical Education
Health & Community Systems


Dr. Elizabeth A. Schlenk is an academic researcher with a PhD in nursing who focuses on behavioral science to promote healthy lifestyle behavior changes and adherence to treatment regimens in adults with chronic disorders. Her Masters in Nursing focused on adult health, and older adults have been the population of interest in several of her studies. She has over 20 years of experience in research, grant funding, and interdisciplinary investigative teams. She pilot tested a self-efficacy based physical activity intervention in older adults with osteoarthritis of the knee, half of whom had hypertension (K01 NR008121). Additionally, she completed a study of physical activity assessment methods in older adults funded by the NIA Pittsburgh Claude D. Pepper Older Americans Independence Center; these results guided selection of measures in a later clinical trial. She was a co-investigator on a study developing and testing an electronic Short Physical Performance Battery. Her recently completed clinical trial tested the ability of an intervention guided by self-efficacy theory and modified to address comorbid hypertension to affect lower extremity exercise, fitness walking, functional status, fatigue, blood pressure, quadriceps strength, pain, and health-related quality of life in adults age 50 years or older with osteoarthritis of the knee and hypertension (R01 NR010904). Technologies used in this clinical trial included e-diaries on smartphones for outcome assessments and self-monitoring during intervention, electronic ActiGraph accelerometers, electronic hand-held dynamometers, and electronic digital pedometers. She collaborated on a Pitt Innovation Challenge grant to develop a wearable technology-based behavioral intervention that assesses a patient’s motion during activities of daily living to actively inform a customized treatment plan to prevent chronic low back pain. Her current research is extended to studies of dyads to promote physical activity. She is a faculty mentor on the School of Nursing training grant, Technology: Research in Chronic and Critical Illness (T32 NR008857). She has over 70 publications, which include over 50 refereed papers, for which she is first author on 20% and senior author on 20%.

At the national level, Dr. Schlenk is a member of the Association of Rheumatology Professionals (ARP), a division of the American College of Rheumatology (ACR). She is Past President of the ARP. At the University level, she serves on the University Council on Graduate Study, Working Group on Interprofessional Education, and Community Engagement Committee Internal Advisory Board. At the school level, she serves on the Curriculum Committee, Bylaws and Policies Committee, Scholarship Committee, and UPMC Academic Service Partnership Council.

Dr. Schlenk is the Coordinator of the Certificate and Minor in Nursing Research for post-baccalaureate and post-Masters/DNP nurses. She serves on dissertation, DNP project, and BSN thesis committees as a chair or member.


Clinical Emphasis

Adult health and gerontology

Scholarly Emphasis

Physical activity promotion, correlates of adherence to treatment regimen, mHealth technology, quality improvement methodology, rheumatology, and cardiovascular risks.


Research for Evidence-Based Practice 1
Coordinating Clinical Trials & Coordinating Clinical Trails Practicum
Methodologies for DNP Projects
Manuscript Development