Training Geriatric Mental Health Services Researchers (T32)

a MiCDA Research Project Description

Investigators: Frederic C. Blow, Kenneth M. Langa, Helen C. Kales

Funding (subcontract): National Institute of Mental Health, 2015-2017 (2 T32 MH 073553 11)

A recent 2012 IOM study concludes that the older adult mental health and substance abuse workforce is woefully inadequate, and the future near doubling of the number of older adults in need of mental health services will entirely overwhelm existing capacity and services without major innovations in the development, dissemination, implementation, and delivery of services. This renewal application requests renewal funding for a postdoctoral training program in geriatric mental health services research designed to equip the next generation of researchers with the skills to address this challenge through a novel multi-site, training program including Dartmouth College (Stephen J. Bartels), Cornell University (Martha L. Bruce), University of Washington (Jurgen Unutzer) and the University of Michigan (Frederic C. Blow). We will achieve this goal by providing 16 fellows a two to three year program consisting of: mentored geriatric mental health services research training; cross-site seminars and co-mentoring linked by web-based communication and archived curricula; and formal coursework at each site. Applicants will have a doctoral degree in medicine, psychology, social work, sociology, epidemiology, public health, health economics, or a related social science.
The proposed renewal builds on a proven track record of success over 9 years of funding including recruitment of participants from underrepresented minorities [32%] and disabled [12%]); 100% retention over the 2-3 year fellowship (except for 4 fellows who successfully obtained faculty positions and left the program early); a successful web-based, biweekly, cross-site mentoring seminar; and evidence of productive scholarship and career advancement. In the 9 years of our program, 25 fellows have published over 500 publications (abstracts, book chapters, and articles), including 210 peer-reviewed journal articles (97 as first author), 327 abstracts, posters, and presentations, and 34 book chapters. Almost half (48%) of our fellows have obtained independent research funding of which three-quarters are as the principal investigator. Sixty-eight percent of our graduates have successfully obtained academic positions, with the remainder having obtained research positions in government, hospital, or other health care settings. In this renewal we will further enhance this novel program by: extending its reach and impact through a national webinar series including early career geriatric mental health researchers outside of the four fellowship sites; enhancing the infrastructure of the program by adding four associate training directors; supporting skills in team science through cross-site collaborative projects, and by skill development related to new NIMH priorities including identifying intervention mechanisms of action (moderators and mediators); maximizing impact on practice and population health; and approaches supporting implementation, dissemination, scalability, and sustainability.