BIRCWH project title: Addressing unmet mental and behavioral health needs for women with diabetes
Current research focus: My BIRCWH project as well as my research focus is to understand gender differences in the development of mental illness in the context of chronic medical conditions, such as diabetes and examine individual and system level barriers of the implementation of evidence-based treatments and lifestyle interventions to improve outcomes. To achieve this research focus, I use implementation science to systematically close the evidence to practice gap in mental health and physical healthcare.
How Dr. Phimphasone-Brady became interested in this work: This work began early in my life with my own personal experiences of seeking mental health treatment and cultural and personal barriers to initiating and engaging in treatment. This is also the reason that I decided to become a psychologist. It seemed that through my own personal experiences and with professional research and clinical training, I would be in a good position to increase the reach of mental health treatments for underserved minority groups and women, in particular. From my Master's level research training in understanding disordered eating in Latina women to my postdoctoral research training in implementation science, my "professional compass" is to ensure that mental health treatments in the context of physical health concerns are equally being addressed and are offered to populations that could benefit from treatment.
Clinical significance of this research: Disordered eating behaviors, including binge eating or restrictive eating can have a profound impact on the diabetes self-management behaviors as well as their engagement in treatment programs for diabetes. Managing disordered eating behaviors is a treatment component in diabetes self-management; however, it is not often the primary focus and trained behavioral health providers are inconsistently involved in managing disordered eating in diabetes care. My project examines patient and provider knowledge of discorded eating behaviors in diabetes management and aims to understand barriers to seeking disordered eating treatment for comprehensive diabetes care in real-world clinical practices.
Relevance of this work to sex/gender differences research: Disordered eating behaviors disproportionately affect women, with a lifetime prevalence of 12.6%, compared to men at 7.1%. Further, the gender differences of offering and seeking treatment for disordered eating in diabetes management is currently unknown.