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College of Nursing

Faculty and Staff

Nathaniel Bell, PhD

Title: Associate Professor
Department: Biobehavioral Health & Nursing Science
College of Nursing
Phone: (803) 777-9861
Fax: (803) 777- 3771

College of Nursing 
University of South Carolina 
1601 Greene Street, Room 619
Columbia, SC 29208-4001 
United States



Dr. Bell received his PhD from Simon Fraser University, where he wrote his dissertation on conceptual models for quantifying social and spatial determinants of injury risk and access to trauma care. He completed a three-year Canadian Institutes of Health Research Postdoctoral Fellowship in Trauma Outcomes at the University of British Columbia, Department of Surgery.


Dr. Bell teaches in the graduate program within the CON. Both NURS720 and NURS810 are core classes within the MSN and PhD curriculum and help students fulfill their requirement for learning concepts and methodological approaches common to the fields of population health, epidemiology, and nursing science. He has developed and taught numerous seminars, workshops, and graduate-level courses focusing on the social determinants of health and the use of geographic information systems (GIS) for public health surveillance. At its core, his courses are framed within the context and philosophy of a population health perspective, emphasizing the empirical relationships between socio-economic gradients and population health inequities.


Dr. Bell's research program of research addresses three topics: (1) societal determinants of health; (2) methodologic research on improving access to and outcomes of medical care; and (3) conceptual frameworks to understand, analyze, and improve access to and outcomes of medical care. He collaborates with researchers within the University’s Institute for Families in Society, the Rural and Minority Health Research Center, as well as the Department of Surgery on a number of projects related to health care provision and access to care, particularly among vulnerable population groups. Dr. Bell also co-Chair’s Trauma Services Research Council within PRISMA Health (Palmetto Richland Hospital), which is an ACS accredited level I trauma hospital.


Dr. Bell's dissemination activities include peer-review publications and book chapters; yearly presentations at national and international conferences in the fields of public health, trauma, and geography; providing research seminars; white paper reports; as well as volunteering at non-profit agencies that focus on health inequities and social justice. His research has been published in a variety of peer-reviewed journals, including JAMA, Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, BMJ Injury Prevention, Journal of Surgical Research, Canadian Journal of Public Health, Canadian Geographer, Injury, Journal of Trauma and Acute Care Surgery, Journal of Urban Health, the International Journal of Health Geographics, Open Medicine, Canadian Journal of Surgery, and the American Journal of Surgery.

Professional Service

Dr. Bell is a member of the American Public Health Association, and the Association of American Geographers. He is also an Associate Editor for BMC Health Services Research.

Professional Practice

Dr. Bell has worked in education and research institutions affiliated with academic universities in Canada and the United States. ). He holds cross and joint appointments  within the Institute for Families in Society, the Department of Epidemiology & Biostatistics in the Arnold School of Public Health, the Department of Surgery, and the Rural and Minority Health Research Center. Prior to joining the CON he worked for Trauma Services at Vancouver General Hospital, Population Data BC, the Canadian Red Cross, and also for Resource Management and Fire Services at Lake Mead National Recreation Area.

Research Studies (Selected)

Currently Funded
Effect of the patient-centered medical home on geographic and racial disparities in health care access. The goal of this work is to investigate a distance decay effect on health care access among Medicaid recipients with chronic diseases and identify whether geographic disparities in access disproportionately impacts some populations more than others. 09/01/2019 – 08/31/2021. Funder: Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ). Role: PI.

Rural Health Research Center Cooperative Agreement 2019-2020 - FORHP Project. 09/01/2019 – 08/31/2020. Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA). Role: Co-I. 

Recently Completed 
When cancer is identified after injury: What are the outcomes? The goal of this study was to identify whether there are differences in outcomes among patients with trauma-related injury who were incidentally diagnosed with a malignancy during trauma evaluation with respect to mortality and access to treatment. Funder: Health Sciences South Carolina. Role: PI. 

Geographic disparities in access to outpatient rehabilitation services after spinal cord injury. The goal of this study was to assess the association between geographic distances on the type and frequency of outpatient rehabilitation services following SCI.  Funder: South Carolina Spinal Cord Injury Research Fund. Role: PI. 

Geographic disparities in access to post-acute health care services after injury. The goal of this study is to prospectively follow injured populations discharged home following major trauma and assess whether changes in recovery and utilization of health care services are inversely associated with geographic distances to care. Funder: USC Vice President of Research. Role: PI. 

An interdisciplinary approach to the evaluation of the social determinants of trauma outcomes. The goal of this study was to evaluate the individual-level and area-level determinants of recovery outcomes and access to health care services after injury. Funder: USC Office of the Provost. Role: PI.

Publications (Selected - last 2 years)

Bell N, Lòpez-DeFede A, Cai B, Brooks J. Reliability of the American Community Survey Estimates of Risk-Adjusted Readmission Rankings for Hospitals Before and After Peer Group Stratification. Forthcoming in JAMA Open. 
Prest P, Justice JA, Bell N, McCarrell, Watson C. A Volume-Based Feeding Protocol Improves Nutrient Delivery and Glycemic Control in a Surgical Trauma Intensive Care Unit. Forthcoming in Journal of Parenteral and Enteral Nutrition.
Bell N, Arrington A, Adams SA, Jones M, Sakran JV, Mehta A, Eberth J. Incidental Cancer Diagnoses in Trauma Patients: A Case-Control Study Evaluating Long-term Outcomes. Journal of Surgical Research 242: 304-311 2019.
Bell N, Lòpez-DeFede A, Wilkerson R, Mayfield-Smith K. Precision of provider licensure data for mapping member accessibility to Medicaid Managed Care provider networks. BMC Health Services Research 18: 2018.
Bell N, Hughes R, Lòpez-DeFede A. Collaborative practice agreements in ‘full restriction’ states: Concepts and methodologies for exploring their impact on workforce diffusion. Journal of Nursing Regulation 9:3, 5-14, 2018.
Bennet A, Bell N. Adherence to Standards of Practice Treating Diabetes Between Physicians and Nurse Practitioners: The National Hospital and Ambulatory Medical Care Surveys. Quality in Primary Care 25:3, 176-186, 2017.
Bradley N, Garraway N, Bell N, Lakha N, Hameed SM. Data capture and communication during transfers to definitive care in an inclusive trauma system. Injury 48:5, 1069-1073, 2017.
Bell N, Kidanie T, Cai B, Krause J. Geographic variation in access to outpatient healthcare services following spinal cord injury. Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation 98:2, 341-346. 2017.
Bell N, Cai B. The reliability of the American Community Survey for injury surveillance. Injury Prevention 23, 244-262, 2017.

A list of my completed peer-reviewed works indexed on PubMed can be found here: Bell publications.

Book chapters:

Bell N. Location allocation modeling practices for health services research using geographic information systems. In: Geographic Health Data: Fundamental Techniques for Analysis. Boscoe F, ed. 2013. Oxford: CABI.

Schuurman N, Bell N. GIS and Population Health: An Overview. In: Handbook of GIS and Society. Nyerges T, Couclelis H, McMaster R (eds). 2011. Los Angeles: SAGE.

Schuurman N, Leszczynski A, Fiedler R, Grund D, Bell N. Building an integrated cadastral fabric for higher resolution socioeconomic spatial data analysis. In: Progress in Spatial Data Handling, 12th International Symposium on Spatial Data Handling. Hainz, Riedl, Elmes (eds.). 2006, Springer.

Challenge the conventional. Create the exceptional. No Limits.