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Loureen Smart Downes, Ph.D. - Florida Gulf Coast University. Fort Myers, FL, US

Loureen Smart Downes, Ph.D.

Expert in healthy lifestyle behaviors | Florida Gulf Coast University


Loureen Downes researches physical activity, nutrition and chronic disease prevention.





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Dr. Loureen Downes is an associate professor and the founding program director of the Doctor of Nursing Practice Program at Florida Gulf Coast University. She is a board-certified family nurse practitioner specializing in lifestyle behaviors and chronic disease prevention. She has over 35 years of nursing experience in a variety of clinical settings, including primary health care, emergency department, cardiac rehabilitation, critical care and cardiac catheterization, including 24 years of experience in nursing education. Dr. Downes maintains a clinical practice as a primary care nurse practitioner.

Dr. Downes' research focuses on the prevention and management of chronic diseases such as type-2 diabetes with an emphasis on nutrition and physical activity. She developed an instrument Motivators and Barriers of Healthy Lifestyle Behaviors Scale which has been used nationally and internationally. She is the author of several peer-reviewed articles and has presented regionally, nationally and internationally at professional conferences on topics related to lifestyle behaviors.

Areas of Expertise (4)

Lifestyle Medicine


Disease Prevention

Type 2 diabetes and diabetes self-management education

Education (3)

University of Connecticut: Ph.D., Nursing 2006

Florida Atlantic University: M.S., Nursing 1996

Southern Adventist University: B.S., Nursing 1984

Affiliations (12)

  • American Association of Nurse Practitioners : Fellow
  • Advanced Registered Nurse Practitioner : Florida License
  • Family Nurse Practitioner : ANCC Certification
  • American College of Lifestyle Medicine : Certified Diplomate
  • American College of Lifestyle Medicine Advanced Practice Nurse/Registered Nurse Member Interest Group : Secretary
  • Family Health Centers of Southwest Florida, Inc. : Chair, Credentialing Committee
  • American College of Lifestyle Medicine : Member
  • Florida Nurse Practitioner Network : Member
  • Sigma Theta Tau International Nursing Honor Society, Tau Zeta Chapter : Member
  • American Association of Nurse Practitioner Formerly American Academy of Nurse Practitioners : Member
  • National Organization of Nurse Practitioner Faculties : Member
  • Southern Gulf Coast Nurse Practitioner Council : Member

Selected Media Appearances (11)

Coronavirus Q&A: FGCU experts answer your health and medical questions

News-Press  print


Loureen Downes answers questions about COVID-19.

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Coronavirus Q&A: Health experts answer your questions on tests, treatments and symptoms

News-Press  print


Loureen Downes answers questions about COVID-19.

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Community leaders call for change as African Americans are at-risk for COVID-19

Fox 4  tv


Loureen Downes discusses underlying health conditions that makes it harder for African Americans to fight COVID-19.

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Coronavirus Fact Check: Groceries, delivery and takeout food

News-Press  print


Loureen Downes helps NBC2 debunk myths about getting groceries during coronavirus.

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Coronavirus Q&A: Experts answer more of your health and medical questions

The News-Press  online


Loureen Downes answers questions about the coronavirus.

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COVID-19 Q&A: FGCU medical professionals answer your coronavirus questions

The News-Press  online


Loureen Downes answers questions about the coronavirus.

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Used gloves, face masks, more found littered all over Lee County

NBC2  tv


Loureen Downes discusses the potential for coronavirus to live on protective gear that's littering area store parking lots.

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COVID-19 Q&A: FGCU medical professionals answer your coronavirus questions



Loureen Downes answers questions about the coronavirus.

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Should you be cleaning your packages before bringing them inside your house?

NBC2  tv


Loureen Downes discusses cleaning your packages before bringing them inside your home to help prevent coronavirus.

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Concern spreads to Southwest Florida over coronavirus

NBC2  tv


Loureen Downes discusses if the coronavirus could be a threat to Florida.

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Plumbers, handymen still making house calls during stay-at-home order

NBC2  tv


Loureen Downes discusses the best ways to protect yourself against coronavirus when technicians must enter the home.

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Selected Event Appearances (3)

Effects of low-cost evidence-based nutrition programs on obesity in a worksite wellness initiative

Sigma’s 30TH International Nursing Research Congress  Calgary, Canada


A Pilot Nutrition Intervention for University Employees: Are You Eating Enough to Lose Weight?

4th National Building Health Academic Communities Summit Conference  Columbus, Ohio


An interdisciplinary community-based pilot nutritional education program in a minority population

National Institute of Nursing Research 30th Anniversary Scientific Symposium  Bethesda, Maryland


Research Focus (1)

Chronic diseases

Six in 10 Americans live with at least one chronic disease, including heart disease, stroke, cancer, obesity or diabetes. These and other chronic diseases are the leading causes of death. Many of these diseases are preventable by lifestyle behaviors such as healthy eating, physical activity and avoiding tobacco. My research focuses on health behaviors including enhancing healthy eating and decreasing sedentary behaviors to prevent and manage lifestyle-related chronic diseases.

Selected Research Grants (2)

Florida Gulf Coast University Advanced Nursing Education Workforce (ANEW) Program

Department of Health and Human Services Bureau of Health Workforce Division of Nursing and Public Health $2,758,171

2019 The purpose of the 2019 Florida Gulf Coast University Advanced Nursing Education Workforce Program is to increase the distribution of primary care nurse practitioners who are well qualified to enter the workforce caring for rural and underserved populations, increase access to safe, cost-effective, and high quality primary care in rural and underserved communities, and improve population health while controlling costs in the delivery of primary care in rural and underserved communities. Monies distributed over four years.

The Impact of a Lifestyle Education Program in a Predominately African American Community

FGCU Office of Research & Graduate Studies Small Grant for Preliminary Study $4,500

2017 The purpose of this study was to evaluate the effect of a community-based healthy lifestyle education program with an emphasis on nutrition, emotional eating, and physical activity. The specific aims were to: 1. Develop a community-based education program to demonstrate how small changes in dietary habits, an awareness of emotional eating, and increased physical activity can impact long term health outcomes. 2. Evaluate the pre and post effect of community-based education on dietary habits, emotional eating, physical activity, weight, body mass index, and blood pressure. 3. Develop a model to apply to a more extensive community-based intervention study.

Selected Articles (3)

Delivery of a community-based nutrition education program for minority adults

Journal of the American Association of Nurse Practitioners

Downes, L. S.; Buchholz, S. W.; Bruster, B., Girimurugan, S. B.; Fogg, L. F.; Frock, M. A.

2019 BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE: Chronic diseases such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and obesity disproportionately affect minority adults, including African Americans. Engaging in lifestyle changes such as improving dietary habits and increasing physical activity can decrease the incidence and severity of these chronic diseases. The purpose of this research study was to explore the impact of a nutrition education program on health behaviors, lifestyle barriers, emotional eating, and body mass index (BMI) in a community-based setting with a minority sample. METHODS: A convenience sample of 47 primarily African American adults participated in two similar Full Plate Diet nutrition interventions for 6 weeks (group I) and 8 weeks (group II). Participants completed pre-assessment and post-assessment of fruit, vegetable, and fat intake, as well as pre-assessment and post-assessment on physical activity, healthy lifestyle barriers, emotional eating, and BMI. CONCLUSIONS: After intervention, there was a significant increase in intake of fruits and vegetables and decreased fat intake. No significant differences were found in physical activity, healthy lifestyle barriers, emotional eating, or BMI after the intervention. IMPLICATIONS FOR PRACTICE: A structured, community-based nutrition education program may result in improved dietary habits among African Americans.

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Physical activity and dietary habits of college students

The Journal for Nurse Practitioners

Downes, L. S.

2015 The majority of chronic diseases are preventable by lifestyle behaviors. This study explored physical activity (PA), dietary habits (DH), and weight status related to motivators and barriers of healthy lifestyle choices in a cohort of 106 college students. PA was significantly correlated to motivating factors (p < .01). Poor DH was significantly correlated with inhibiting factors (p < .05). Nurse practitioners are prepared through educational training to provide counseling in the context of motivators and barriers to improve PA and DH, and to be at the forefront of policy implementation to prevent chronic diseases and decrease the cost of healthcare.

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Motivators and barriers of healthy lifestyle behaviors: Development and psychometric characteristics

Journal of Nursing Measurement

Loureen Downes

2008 Black individuals suffer disproportionately from diseases that are preventable by lifestyle choices. The purpose of this study was to test the internal consistency and construct validity of the newly devised instrument, Motivators and Barriers of a Healthy Lifestyle Scale (MABS). The MABS was administered to 109 community-dwelling, adult Blacks. Content validity was supported through review of the literature and the judgment of three content experts. Exploratory factor analysis supported the two dimensions, that is, motivators and barriers. The Cronbach’s alphas for the motivators and barriers dimensions were .88 and .90, respectively. Results provide initial evidence that the MABS is a valid, internally consistent measure of factors that motivate or inhibit healthy lifestyle behaviors. Screening with the MABS could encourage more focused health promotion discussions between patients and practitioners.

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