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QUALITY MENTAL HEALTH CARE IN A TIME OF PHYSICIAN SHORTAGES With a physician shortage looming — in part because of the Affordable Care Act and more people having greater access to health care — the role of nonphysician health care providers is more important than ever. But according to Dr. Abiola Keller, director of clinical research in the Physician Assistant Studies Department in the College of Health Sciences, it’s equally important that these providers are able to address not just the physical needs of their patients, but the mental and emotional needs as well.

The two-year grant will allow her to study how nonphysician providers manage patient depression, specifically examining if there are differences in care based on a patient’s race or ethnicity. “We intuitively think that, yes, nonphysician providers are giving equal care when it comes to mental health, but we don’t have the research evidence to back that up,” Keller says. “It’s also important to look for any disparities and ensure equity in care. Ultimately, the research will help us move forward with designing primary care teams that effectively use non-physician providers to improve accessibility to depression services while maintaining high-quality and equitable care.” JESSE LEE

research in brief

Dr. Abiola Keller

The grant was awarded as part of the New Connections program, which, according to the foundation, is designed to “expand the diversity of perspectives that inform the foundation’s programming.” Keller is among a select group of emerging scholars who were chosen to receive similar awards.

RESEARCHER

"...having insurance and having access to high-quality health care aren’t the same thing. We need providers who can give that complete level of care.”

Keller recently received a $100,000 grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, a leading philanthropic group concerned with building a “culture of health in America.”

Director of Clinical Research, Physician Assistant Studies

“Even before the Affordable Care Act, we knew there wouldn’t be enough physicians in the places of greatest need to keep pace with demand,” she says. “But having insurance and having access to high-quality health care aren’t the same thing. We need providers who can give that complete level of care.”

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Discover Research 2015