The goal of this R25 application is to provide a state-of-the-art, interdisciplinary methods training program to enhance the skills of early-career scientists to investigate the intersection of mental and physical health. Mental disorders and psychological distress influence the development, prognosis, course, and self-management of leading causes of medical morbidity (e.g., diabetes, heart disease, cancer). Despite this intrinsic linkage, mental and physical health are often siloed in research, clinical care, and scientific training. This lack of integration causes inefficiencies in the growth of scientific knowledge and fosters a piecemeal approach to health that fails to meet the needs of persons with co-occurring mental and physical health conditions. Despite the need for a more comprehensive approach to research training, currently there are no NIH-funded programs focused on building methodological expertise regarding the intersection of mental and physical health. In addition, there are few training opportunities designed to address the methodologic skills needed to investigate health disparities. The proposed Integrative Methods in Mental and Physical Health Disparities (I-MEHD) Summer Training Program will develop the research skills of multidisciplinary cohorts of early-career scientists on the intersection of mental and physical health, with attention to how this intersection contributes to minority health and health disparities. I-MEHD consists of a 4-day residential summer institute which is paired with 12-months of scientific mentoring to help trainees develop a deep understanding of the conceptual models, study designs, recruitment strategies, data collection needs, measurement tools, statistical models, and dissemination approaches appropriate for conducting innovative research on the intersection of mental and physical health. We anticipate I-MEHD will attract three types of trainees: (i) Behavioral/social scientists studying mental health who are interested in learning how to incorporate and analyze biological/clinical measures; (ii) Clinical/health services researchers interested in learning how to assess mental disorders and related behavioral/psychological constructs; and (iii) Minority health researchers who want to employ a more comprehensive approach to studying health. The success of I-MEHD will be evaluated by assessing trainee skills development, research performance, and sustainable capacity building. The Leadership Core (Mezuk, Jackson, Caldwell and Taylor) of I-MEHD has an established track record of training junior investigators, particularly under-represented minority scientists, through their leadership of several Center-based education programs at the University of Michigan. I-MEHD will apply the lessons-learned from our decades of experience successfully training junior scientists, an extensive pool of Institutional Resources, and a National Network of Expert Consultants in a focused summer program centered on building the scientific skills necessary to address the complex intersection of mental and physical health over the lifespan.
The goal of this R25 application is to provide a state-of-the-art, interdisciplinary methods training program to enhance the skills of early-career scientists regarding the intersection of mental and physical health. Mental and physical health are often siloed in research, clinical care, and scientific training, reflecting a piecemeal approach to health that fails to meet the needs of persons with co-occurring mental and physical health conditions. This summer training program builds on our successful track-record mentoring junior scientists and leverages extensive institutional resources and a national network of expert consultants to provide focused methodology training that addresses processes linking mental and physical health over the lifespan.