My main program of research seeks to improve health by increasing access to healthcare. This kind of research is often called “help-seeking,” “health services,” or “healthcare access” research.
Specifically, the long term goal of this research is to collaborate interprofessionally with students and colleagues to identify the most important psychosocial (e.g., stigma, attitudes), material (e.g., insurance, transportation), and contextual (e.g., race, masculinity) factors that influence whether or not a person gets the professional treatment they need. This knowledge will be used to develop and refine theoretical models that explain help-seeking behavior for various health issues (e.g., depression, anxiety, substance abuse) by individuals from different cultural groups and underserved populations. Better theoretical models help guide the creation of evidence-based prevention and intervention programs that will increase access to behavioral healthcare, thereby helping to close what is known as the “treatment gap” (e.g., only 30% of people who need mental healthcare get it; Thornicroft, 2007).
To accomplish this long term goal of identifying these key help seeking factors, members of the HAMMER (“Help-seeking And Multicultural Measurement Evaluation Research”) Lab are currently pursuing two lines of research.
First, we’re examining the interactive influence of key help seeking factors (e.g., stigma, attitudes, social norms, self-efficacy, gender role norms, mental health literacy) on people’s intentions to seek behavioral healthcare.
Second, in order to ensure that social scientists are drawing valid scientific conclusions, it is first necessary to empirically verify that our psychological instruments are accurately measuring the variables they were designed to measure. Thus, we’re using cutting-edge psychometric techniques (e.g., bifactor analysis, measurement invariance) to evaluate the reliability, validity, and cross-cultural utility of popular psychological instruments (e.g,. ISMI-29, GRAT-RS, ATSPPH-SF, IASMHS, GHSQ, ISCI, IFI, GRCS, CMNI, MRNI). When necessary to allow research to move forward in an area, we also develop new instruments (e.g,. MHSAS, MHSIS, HSSS, ISMI-9, MADE, PIWIS, MRNI-VB).
Here’s an informal 40-minute presentation, recorded during a recent HAMMER Lab meeting, where we talk about help seeking research broadly as well as the specific research interests (women, couples) that some of our lab members have:
Here’s a formal 5-minute “Ed Talk” I did at the University of Kentucky related to this measurement evaluation portion of my program of research:
In pursuing this scholarship, the HAMMER Lab will continue to develop and implement culturally-informed models, methods, and measurement. This commitment to honoring the role of identity and systems in our scholarship is a reflection of our professional identity as counseling psychologists, as are our efforts to use this scholarship to promote social justice. Many of my publications directly address cultural identity, with gender and religion/spirituality/worldview being common foci. To see an example an example of how I have empirically examined the impact of measurement on the accuracy and cultural sensitivity of psychological instruments, check out the video of my invited talk on Why Good Psychological Measurement Matters.