Shelia R. Cotten Research

MSU’s Communication Arts & Sciences- Featured Faculty


Shelia’s work with Trifecta is featured on the latest Communication Arts & Sciences department news. Click here to read her insightful posting. 

There several interesting upcoming events. a Trifecta Grant Writing Panel on Tuesday, Nov. 4, from noon to 1:30 p.m. in the School of Engineering Dean’s Conference Room 3405. The panel will include Johannes Bauer, Professor and Chair of the Department of Media and Information; Nora Rifon, Professor in the Department of Advertising + Public Relations; Subir Biswas, Professor of Engineering and Associate Chair for Research; and Gwen Wyatt, Professor of Nursing. The panelists have diverse backgrounds in funding and will share information regarding past experiences as well as tips and advice. Beverages and desserts will be provided.


Michigan State University Trifecta Project


This partnership between the communication, engineering and nursing departments at Michigan State.  The following overview is from the Trifecta site- “The Trifecta initiative brings together Intellectual Leaders from the Michigan State University Colleges of Communications Arts and Sciences, Engineering and Nursing. Faculty members and graduate students are forging intellectual and operational directives aimed at advancing the delivery of health services for underserved populations.

The initiative allows faculty members to reach out to create genuine collaborations between the three colleges and foster the full potential of cutting-edge interdisciplinary research at MSU.”  For more information please vist-

Interim Director of Sparrow/ MSU Center for Innovation and Research

sparrow hospital


Dr. Shelia Cotten is interim director of the unique partnership between Sparrow Hospital and Michigan State University.  The researchers from Michigan State are working together with Sparrow’s clinical experts to collaboratively develop new innovations that take advantage of the wealth of talent and resources in order to bring quality health care solutions.

For more information about this exciting program you can visit the main site


ICT and Quality of Life

sparrow hospital


Shelia Cotten’s research team has led an ICTs (information and communications technologies) & Quality of Life Study is a five-year, three-arm, randomized, controlled intervention study designed to assess the extent to which use of ICTs such as computers, the Internet, email, and social networking can increase social capital and improve quality of life among older adults living in independent and assisted living communities.

Study Rationale
Research has shown that as individuals age and move to different types of care communities such as independent and assisted living, they often experience declines in social capital and quality of life. Other research, including some research involving older adults, has show that ICTs can help users maintain or increase social connections and improve their stock of social capital.  Increased social capital has been linked to improved quality life.

This is not the first study to examine ICTs and their possible relationship to social capital and quality of life in older adults.  However, other studies of this type have been limited in two ways.  First, other studies have tended to be short-term, that is, social capital and quality of life were only assessed at one or two time points, thus it was not known whether any improvement or decline was temporary or lasting.

We address this issue by collecting data at five separate time points over the course of fourteen months, allowing us to trace the trajectories of social capital and quality of life over time.

Second, of the intervention studies of this kind (where older adults were taught to use ICTs), most have been done in such a way that any observed effects (for example, improved quality of life) could not be attributed with confidence to the intervention, leaving in doubt whether improvement was due to the intervention, the novelty of doing new things, the interaction with trainers, or other factors.

To address this issue, we employ a three-arm design.

  • Arm 1, the ICT Intervention Group participates in eight weeks of computer training sessions and five surveys.
  • Arm 2, the Attention Control group, participates in eight weeks of activities unrelated to ICTs and five surveys.
  • Arm 3, the Survey Only group, participates in the surveys only.

This three-arm design allows us to separate out the effects of novelty and trainer interaction to get a clearer picture of the effects of ICT use on social capital and quality of life.

For details on how the study protocol works, please visit our Study Protocol page.

This study is funded by a grant from the National Institute on Aging, part of the National Institutes of Health. Study #5R01AG030425, Shelia R. Cotten, PI. (information from



This site will feature the research and initiatives of Dr. Shelia R. Cotten. This is under development so please come back soon.