School of Nursing
Faculty of Health Sciences Queen's University

Barbara S. Kisilevsky

RN, BSN (University of Pittsburgh), MN (University of Pittsburgh), MA(Queen's University), PhD(Queen's University)


External Phone: 613-533-6000 x74766
Internal Phone: 74766
Office Location: Room 205, Cataraqui Building



My teaching is focussed in the two areas of my academic, clinical and research expertise: 1) women's and children's health and 2) research methods and statistics. I regularly teach in both the graduate and undergraduate nursing programs. Most recently, I have taught NURS323 Introduction to Statistics and NURS324 Principles and Application of Nursing Research at the the undergraduate level and NURS800 Advanced Resarch Design and Analysis and NURS822 Women's and Children's Health Issues at the graduate level. As well, I supervise master's and doctoral thesis research in my Maternal-Fetal-Newborn Studies Laboratory at Kingston General Hospital.



As a nurse and a developmental psychologist, my research program is multi-disciplinary in nature, focussing on human sensory development in the perinatal period (i.e., fetus, newborn and premature infant) and the usefulness of fetal behaviours in the assessment of fetal well-being. In low-risk fetal populations delivering as healthy, full-term newborns, we have characterized the onset and maturation of fetal heart rate and body movement reponses to sound (e.g., white noise, music) and vibroacoustic stimuli from mid-gestation to term, described a continuity in fetal and newborn responsivity to the same sorts or sensory stimuli, and determined that fetuses learn characteristics of environmental sounds (e.g., recognize their own mother's voice from about 35 weeks gestational age) providing evidence of rudimentary attention, memory, and learning before birth. In high-risk fetal populations, we have identified atypical responses to auditory probes, perhaps signifying atypical development, in fetuses in pregnancies complicated by threatened preterm delivery, maternal diabetes, hypertension, and smoking. As well, we have demonstrated the effective use of sensory stimulation (e.g., swaddling, music) as a comfort (i.e., stress reduction) measure for premature infants following necessary painful procedures.  


Studies are carried out in a fully equipped Maternal-Fetal-Newborn Studies Laboratory at Kingston General Hospital (KGH) which is contiguous with the clinical Fetal Assessment Unit. All in-patient and out-patient obstetrical services are geographically located on the same floor at KGH, facilitating recruitment and testing of participants. The Laboratory provides research training for undergraduate (e.g., CIHR and NSERC summer students) and graduate students (Nursing MSc, Psychology MA, Psychology PhD) as well as visiting scientists (e.g., P.R. China). 


The research is presently supported by grants from the Canadian Institutes for Health Research,  Heart & Stroke Foundation, and US National Science Foundation and has been supported by the Natural Sciences & Engineering Research Council of Canada, and Hospital for Sick Children Foundation.