“Understanding the personal matters involved in making treatment decisions can support healthcare providers in meeting the needs of their patients and helping those patients make informed decisions on whether or not to discontinue a treatment—especially one that has the potential to be lifesaving.”

Huibrie C. Pieters, an associate professor with the UCLA School of Nursing, has global experience in nursing, clinical psychology, and neuropsychology. Dr. Pieters’ research explores shared decision making about healthcare choices from the personal viewpoint of the patient, particularly characteristics such as the disease and its treatments, the patient's preferences and values, family and primary support person, and patient-provider communication. Knowledge about how recipients of healthcare make treatment decisions is critical to increasing the role of patients in their own care and to integrating patient-centered care in clinical practice which are key goals of our federal healthcare reform. Her present research is with two understudied diagnostic groups: older women diagnosed with breast cancer and, more recently, people living with drug-resistant epilepsy who are considering neurosurgery. With each group, Pieters is exploring how the patients receives, interprets and ultimately acts on treatment options,

Areas of Scholarly Expertise and Interest

Shared decision making, breast cancer, drug-resistant epilepsy, patient-provider communication

Faculty Research and Clinical Expertise

Research: Healthcare decision-making among women is the focus of my research program and my international and domestic experiences in nursing and clinical psychology inform this work. Within this area of expertise, I am most interested in the effects of age, culture and being underserved in the process of treatment decision-making. Specifically, my past research investigated psychological factors that influence therapy decisions made by older women affected with loco-regional breast cancer. Within this domain of psycho-gero-oncology, I have published on the women's perceptions of the concept of 'cancer survivorship', accessing healthcare across the early cancer trajectory, and the multifaceted process of decision-making about treatment options.

Clinical: Psychiatric mental health nursing; gero-oncology


University of Stellenbosch, South Africa, BSN, 1974, Nursing

University of Stellenbosch, South Africa, Honors, 1975, Honors in Psychology

University of Stellenbosch, South Africa, MA, 1977, Clinical Psychology

University of Stellenbosch, South Africa, PhD, 1986, Neuropsychology

University of Phoenix, MSN, 2005, Nursing

University of California, Los Angeles, PhD, 2009, Nursing

Honors and Awards

2006       University of California, Los Angeles: Graduate Division Award Offer

2008       School of Nursing, University of California, Los Angeles: Leahy Scholarship

2009       Sigma Theta Tau International (Gamma Tau Chapter), Annual Research Grant

2009       Oncology Nursing Society Foundation: Annual Doctoral Scholarship


Pieters, H.C., & Dornig, K.D. (2013). Collaboration in grounded theory analysis: Reflections and practical suggestions. Qualitative Social Work, 12(2), 200-2014. doi:10.1177/1473325011424085.

Pieters, H.C., Heilemann, M.V., Maliski, S., Dornig, K., & Mentes, J. (2012). Instrumental relating and treatment decision making among older women with early stage breast cancer. Oncology Nursing Forum, 39(1), E10-E19. doi:10.1188/12.ONF.E10-E19.

Heilemann, M.V., Pieters, H.C., Kehoe, P. & Yang. Q. (2011). Schema therapy and motivational interviewing combined with collaborative mapping as treatment for depression among low income, second generation Latinas. Journal of Behavior Therapy and Experimental Psychiatry, 42(4), 473-480. doi:10.1016/j.jbtep.2011.05.001.

Pieters, H.C. & Heilemann, M.V. (2011). “Once you’re 82 going on 83, surviving has a different meaning”: Older breast cancer survivors reflect on cancer survivorship. Cancer Nursing, 34(2), 124-133. doi:10.1097/NCC.0b013e3181ef77b5.

Pieters, H.C., Heilemann, M.V., Grant, M., & Maly, R.C. (2011). Older women’s reflections on accessing care across their breast cancer trajectory: Navigating beyond the triple barriers. Oncology Nursing Forum, 38(2), 175-184. doi:10.1188/11.ONF.175-184.

Pieters, H.C. & Heilemann, M.V. (2010). “I can’t do it on my own”: Motivation to enter therapy for depression among low income, second generation Latinas. Issues in Mental Health Nursing, 31(4), 279-287. doi:10.3109/01612840903308549.