Skip to Navigation
University of Pittsburgh

People | Faculty

Mary Beth Happ, PhD, RN

Professor, Department of Acute/Tertiary Care

School of Nursing

University of Pittsburgh





School of Nursing

336 Victoria Building

3500 Victoria Street

Pittsburgh, PA 15261


Download CV

PubMed Search


Related Sites:

Dr. Happ's School of Nursing Faculty Page

Mary Beth Happ is Professor, Department of Acute/Tertiary Care in the School of Nursing where she teaches undergraduates and graduate students. She completed a two-year Post-Doctoral Research Fellowship in Psychosocial Oncology and HIV/AIDS at the University of Pennsylvania in July, 2000. She serves on the UPMC-Presbyterian Hospital Ethics Committee and is an executive committee member of the Institute to Enhance Palliative Care. Her research focuses on communication with voiceless patients in acute and critical care settings with special emphasis on the communication and decision-making at end-of-life. She is also interested in human interactions with technology in acute and critical care settings. Dr. Happ has published numerous articles and lectured extensively on clinical ethical issues associated with physical restraint use, voicelessness among critically ill patients, health care technology, and end-of-life care for nursing home residents.


BSN – Nursing, Ursuline College (1981)
MSN – Nursing, Case Western Reserve University   (1988)
PhD – Nursing, University of Pennsylvania (1998)

Awards, Honors, and Fellowships

American Association of Critical Care Nurses Circle of Excellence Award (2009)
Fellow of the American Academy of Nursing (2008)
Chancellors Distinguished Teaching Award nominee, University of Pittsburgh (2008)
Fellow, American Academy of Nursing (2008)
Dean’s Distinguished Teaching Award, University of Pittsburgh School of Nursing (2007)
Visiting Professor, Institute for Nursing Science, University of Basel, Basel, Switzerland (2007)
Distinguished Centurion, Greensburg Central Catholic High School Alumni Award (2005)

The Springer Award in Geriatric/Gerontological Nursing Research (2003)

Research and Professional Interests

Understanding and improving communication with non-speaking patients in acute and critical care settings
Critical care gerontology
Prolonged mechanical ventilation
Communication and symptom management in the ICU, particularly, at end-of-life

Teaching Activities

Ethics in Nursing and Health Care, School of Nursing
Ethics in Advanced Practice, School of Nursing

Guest lecturer on ethics and research methodology topics to graduate students in the Master of Arts in Bioethics Program, the doctoral program in nursing, and educational programs of the School of Medicine

Selected Publications

Hannan M, Happ MB, Charron-Prochownek D. Mothers’ perspectives about reproductive health discussions with adolescent daughters with diabetes. Diabetes Educator 2009; 35(2): 265-273.


Song MK, Ward SE, Happ MB, Piraino B, Donovan HS, Shields A-M, Connolly MC. Randomized Controlled Trial of SPIRIT: An Effective Approach to Preparing African-American Dialysis Patients and Families for End of Life. Research in Nursing & Health 2009;32(3): 260-273.


Broyles L, Tate J, Happ MB. Video-recording in clinical research: Mapping the ethical terrain. Nursing Research 2008;57(1): 59-63.


Lingler J, Sherwood P, Crighton M, Song MK, Happ MB. Conceptual challenges in the study of caregiver-care recipient relationships. Nursing Research 2008; 57(5): 367-372.


Crighton M, Coyne B, Tate J, Happ MB. Transitioning to end-of-life care in the intensive care unit. Cancer Nursing 2008;31(6): 478-484.


Happ MB, Swigart VA, Tate JA, Hoffman LA, Arnold RM.  Patient involvement in health-related decisions during prolonged critical illness. Research in Nursing & Health 2007;30(4):  361-372.


Guentner K, Hoffman L, Happ MB, Kim Y, Dabbs AD, Mendelsohn AB, Chelluri L. Preferences for mechanical ventilation in survivors of prolonged mechanical ventilation (PMV) tracheostomy. AJCC 2006; 15: 65-77.


Kagan, SH, Clarke SP, Happ MB. Head and neck cancer patient and family member interest in and use of email to communicate with clinicians. Head and Neck 2005; 27(11): 976-981.


Happ MB, Roesch T, Kagan SH. Patient communication following head and neck cancer surgery: a pilot study using electronic speech generating devices. Oncology Nursing Forum 2005; 32(6): 1179-1187.


Happ MB, Tuite P, Dobbin K, DiVirgilio-Thomas D. Communication ability, method and content among nonsurviving patients treated with mechanical ventilation in the intensive care unit. American Journal of Critical Care 2004; 13(3): 210-220.


Happ MB, Roesch TK, Garrett, K. Electronic voice-output communication aids for temporarily nonspeaking patients in a medical intensive care unit: a feasibility study. Heart & Lung  - The Journal of Acute and Critical Care 2004; 33(2): 92-101.


Happ MB. Interpretation of nonvocal behavior and the meaning of voicelessness in critical care. Social Science and Medicine. 2000; 50: 1247-1255.


Fairman J, Happ MB. For their own good? A historical examination of restraint use. Healthcare Ethics Committee Forum 1998; 10 (3-4): 290-299.