Thursday, October 28, 2010

Lessons Learned and Opportunities for the Future of Behavioral Health Services - Call for Abstracts

Drug and alcohol addiction and mental health disorders are prevalent, often go untreated, and if treated, the process of care for these conditions often does not meet basic quality standards. Receiving adequate service for behavioral health disorders is especially acute in the most vulnerable and needy groups, including older populations, racial/ethnic minorities, persons with lower educational levels, and those with early onset of behavioral health disorders. These groups often delay seeking care, or seek care in the general healthcare sector rather than in specialty mental health service settings.

The lack of attention to behavioral healthcare conditions contributes to global disease burden and is a significant cause of disability. It is now well-recognized that the co-occurrence of DAAMH and general medical disorders is high, and comorbidity and mortality increase when conditions co-occur, often resulting in the utilization of acute medical services. A focus on disparities in service access and delivery has increased over the past decade, even predating the IOM’s 2003 report entitled Unequal Treatment: Confronting Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Health Care.

Emphasizing the need for a coordinated focus in research addressing healthcare disparities, The National Institutes of Health recently (September, 2010) announced the transition of the National Center on Minority Health and Health Disparities (NCMHD) to the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities (NIMHD). The NIMHD will plan, coordinate, review, and evaluate minority health and health disparities research activities conducted and supported by the NIH institutes and centers.

To further emphasize the need to prioritize research examining behavioral healthcare disparities, this conference seeks to examine investigative efforts focused on

 *   Disparities in behavioral healthcare service access and delivery
 *   Innovative strategies to decrease disparities in diverse populations (gender-based, racial/ethnic minorities) and settings (rural vs. urban; primary and mental healthcare)
 *   Disparities in general health care access occurring as the result of the presence of a behavioral healthcare condition
 *   Issues of stigma and cultural salience as they impact service access and delivery, and
 *   Healthcare policy and legislative changes impacting behavioral health service disparities.

This scientific conference will encourage linkages between the often separate areas of behavioral services research into a more integrative behavioral health services research (BHSR) platform and will emphasize the a ‘key theme’ of the National Healthcare Disparities Report (AHRQ, 2009) related to service disparities experienced by persons with mental health and substance use disorders.

In this third year of a 3-year NIDA R13 scientific conference grant (with additional support provided by NIMH and NIAAA), conference organizers will continue their effort to 1) develop a collaborative and strategic research agenda to improve access to and the quality of behavioral healthcare to people (across the life span) who suffer from drug abuse, problematic alcohol use, and mental health problems, and, 2) engage and partner researchers and other key stakeholders such as afflicted individuals, families, providers, policymakers, and communities to contribute to and implement a quality improvement agenda. A ‘virtual collaboratory’ will also be used to connect conference participants and to encourage and support the development of new research teams.

Currently there is no one place for addictions, mental health and alcohol services researchers to meet exclusively and at one time on shared priority topics germane to behavioral health services research (BHSR). No professional group or association for BHSR exists. Common problems abound and often work does not cross the disciplines, so this 2011 scientific conference will highlight innovative strategies that explore and address the issue of services disparities in the delivery of behavioral healthcare focusing on a broad range of research examining

 *   ‘State of the Art’ interventions developed to close the gap in disparities
 *   The roles different settings, including homes, schools, and workplaces, can play in creating and changing disparities
 *   Patient-provider interactions as they contribute to or ameliorate disparities
 *   Community-based participatory research on service disparities
 *   The role of cultural competence in addressing disparities
 *   Improvements in the measurement of service disparities and impacts, and,
 *   Healthcare financing, legislation, and policy changes as they influence service disparities.

The conference will be held in Arlington, VA on April 6-7, 2011 with post-conference methods workshops on morning of April 8th. The Ritz Carlton Pentagon City (Arlington, VA) will be the setting for this year’s meeting. Individual paper, poster, think tank and symposia abstracts are being solicited. Significant networking opportunities will be available and students may apply for a limited pool of travel stipends. Please consider submitting an abstract to the conference through our website at<>

All abstract submissions MUST be received by December 3, 2010 at 5pm EST.


Margarita Alegría, PhD
Scientific Conference Chair,
Director, Center for Multicultural Mental Health Research
Professor of Psychology, Department of Psychiatry, Harvard Medical School

Junius Gonzales, MD, MBA
University of South Florida, R13 Principal Investigator

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