Dr. Restrepo-Ruiz Awarded Grant

July 8, 2024

Mayte Restrepo portrait

Mayte Restrepo-Ruiz, Assistant Professor in Public Health Sciences was selected to be part of the next cohorts of a 2-year Pre-K Junior Faculty Career Development Award Program: Data-to-Action Approach to Prevent Youth Exposure to Violence and Mental Health Adverse Outcomes.  The objective of this study is to examine the relationships between several Social Determinants of Health, multiple forms of violence exposure, and mental health outcomes for historically underserved minoritized youth. The long-term goal is to reduce exposure to multiple forms of violence and mental health problems for minoritized youth.

Dr. Youngji Jo Receives Grant for HIV and Hypertension Study in Zambia

June 11, 2024

Picture of Youngi Jo

Dr. Youngji Jo, Assistant Professor in Public Health Sciences was selected to be part of the next cohorts of a 2-year Pre-K Junior Faculty Career Development Award Program: Integrated Screening and Multi-Month Drug Dispensing for People Living with HIV and Hypertension in Zambia: A Mathematical Model. The overall goal of this study is to assess the epidemiological impact and cost-effectiveness of integrated screening and multi-month drug dispensing for people living with HIV and hypertension in resource-limited settings and to provide optimal approaches to allocate resources, enhance patient care, and improve health outcomes.

Cannabis-Related Treatment Outcomes Among Pregnant Women – Grant

June 6, 2024

Shayna Cunningham
Dr. Shayna Cunningham

Dr. Shayna Cunningham, Assistant Professor in Public Health Sciences, Dr. Taeho (Greg) Rhee, Associate Professor in Public Health Sciences (Co-I) and Dr. Rogie Royce Carandang, Postdoctoral Fellow in Public Health Sciences (Project Manager) have been newly awarded a one year HRSA Maternal and Child Health Federal Consolidated Programs grant 1R42MC53154‐01‐00 titled “Cannabis-Related Treatment Outcomes Among Pregnant Women: A Disparity Analysis Using a Nationally Representative Sample” for $120,000.

Goal(s) and Objectives of the project: Cannabis use among pregnant people in the United States has rapidly increased over the past two decades with implications for fetal, neonatal, and neurodevelopmental outcomes. Most cannabis-related research among pregnant women has focused on factors associated with use and treatment admissions. Less is known regarding cannabis-related treatment outcomes in this population. The primary aim of this study is to assess disparities in cannabis-related treatment outcomes for pregnant women admitted to a residential or outpatient treatment facility, including the influence of state-level cannabis laws (medical, recreational, decriminalization), “priority access laws” that prioritize pregnant people over others for available slots in public drug treatment facilities, and punitive laws that deem prenatal drug use to be child maltreatment, require health care providers to report prenatal drug use to child protective services, and/or criminalize prenatal drug use. A secondary aim is to examine the impact the COVID-19 pandemic on treatment outcomes among pregnant women. The study findings will help to inform strategies to address disparities in cannabis-related treatment and will yield insights to enable policymakers, government officials, and health care providers to better prepare for future public health emergencies.

Greg Rhee Research – ER Visits for Suicide Attempts and Self-Harm

June 4, 2024

Greg Rhee

National Trends in Emergency Department Visits for Suicide Attempts and Intentional Self-Harm

Dr. Greg Rhee has gotten an important research article published in the Journal of Psychiatry. This study estimated national annual trends and characteristics of emergency department visits for suicide attempts and intentional self-harm in the United States from 2011 to 2020.

Article Excerpt:

Suicide continues to be a major public health problem in the United States, and suicide rates have risen by 35% since 2000 (1, 2). Suicide attempts are the single most important risk factor for suicide and the risk factor most likely to precipitate contact with the health care system (35). It is estimated that 1 in 25 individuals who present to the hospital for self-harm will die by suicide within 5 years (6). Since suicide prevention relies on identifying individuals at high risk for suicide, suicide attempts offer critical opportunities to intervene to prevent future suicide (79).

Since many patients are treated in emergency departments after a suicide attempt, emergency departments are an important setting for determining epidemiologic trends in suicidal behavior, especially because the United States does not have a national monitoring system for suicide attempts. Over the past three decades, several studies have raised concern about rising emergency department visits for suicide attempts (1013). A U.S. national study of emergency departments found that the average annual number of emergency department visits for suicide attempts and intentional self-harm more than doubled between 1993 and 2008 (11). A more recent study found that rates were stable between 2006 and 2013 (14).

Yet, there have been no nationally representative U.S. estimates of annual trends in emergency department visits for suicide attempts and intentional self-harm since 2013, including trends stratified by sociodemographic groups. Given the important role of emergency departments in suicide prevention, examining national trends in visits for suicide attempts provides an opportunity to identify population-wide unmet mental health needs and inform suicide prevention strategies.

Learn more here: https://ajp.psychiatryonline.org/doi/10.1176/appi.ajp.20230397

About Greg Rhee

Research Area(s) of Interest
Population-based clinical outcomes research and health care policy

Dr. Rhee is a psychiatric epidemiologist and mental health services researcher studying the access to care, quality of care, and clinical and patient-reported outcomes in patients with psychiatric or substance use disorders. My current research focuses on affective disorders (e.g., depression and bipolar disorder), suicidality, cannabis use disorder, and opioid use disorder among other conditions. My expertise is grounded in population-based observational studies using large databases to characterize unmet needs and national practice  patterns in the assessment and management of behavioral health conditions. I also investigate long-term comparative effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of pharmacological and non-pharmacological interventions for psychiatric and substance use disorders.

Dr. Rhee is an accredited professional statistician (PStat®) certified by the American Statistical Association with extensive experience with administrative claims data, national health and healthcare survey data, and other data sources including electronic health records, and mortality data. He has served as a senior statistician in 100+ peer-reviewed research articles and has successfully served as Principal Investigator or Co-Investigator on multiple research projects funded by major federal agencies, including Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and National Institutes of Health (NIH).



Dr. Rhee awarded $361,030 for NIH grant

Greg Rhee

Dr. Rhee was awarded $361,030 NIH grant for his nationwide project titled “Epidemiology and Clinical Outcomes of Electroconvulsive Therapy Use in Nursing Home Residents with Dementia.”

Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT) can be an effective treatment modality for severe neuropsychiatric symptoms (NPS) (e.g., agitation and depression) in patients with Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias (ADRD). However, no nationwide epidemiologic study has previously conducted whether ECT is effective in reducing key clinical outcomes (e.g., hospitalizations and all-cause mortality rates) among older adults with ADRD in nursing home settings.

This study aims to examine the impact of ECT use on functional outcomes and mortality using nationally-representative data from Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) linked with other publicly available data sources. This two-year, NIH-funded study will be carried out in collaboration with the Department of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and McLean Hospital. Students interested in learning more about the study can reach out to Dr. Rhee for more information.

For more information, contact: Dr. Greg Rhee at rhee@uchc.edu

Maria (Mayte) Restrepo-Ruiz, PhD, is now an assistant professor

Having received her PhD in our department in 2021 for her study titled, “Armed Conflict, Intimate Partner Violence and Women’s Mental Health: An Explanatory Mixed-Methods Study.” She will continue her work with the Connecticut Office of Early Childhood as well as teach a course on Global Health in the Program in Applied Public Health Sciences.

Currently, Dr. Restrepo is working on building a surveillance system for Adverse and Positive Childhood Experiences in Connecticut using publicly available and administrative data sources. Data from this system will be used to  identify child populations at higher risk of adverse childhood experiences and gaps in the provision of prevention programs. She expects data from this system will be available to the public through a web portal in 2023. She is also collaborating with colleagues from Colombia and Puerto Rico on a project to understand better the role of potentially traumatic experiences in children’s mental health in socio-politically complex contexts.  Dr. Restrepo’s goal is to advance her research in preventing adverse experiences in childhood by focusing on factors that have been found to promote positive health outcomes despite adversity. 

Dr. Stacey Brown at The 100 Women of Color Gala & Awards

photo of stacey brown

Dr. Stacey Brown will be honored for her powerful impact on the community at The 100 Women of Color Gala & Awards. From the event coordinators:

From UConn Today: “On, Friday, June 24, 2022, June Archer & Eleven28 Entertainment will celebrate the power of family, friends and community, as we honor the past, the present and the future. The 100 Women of Color Gala & Awards will recognize the contributions that these women of color in business, education, entrepreneurship, entertainment, government, public service and the impact they have made on the lives of people throughout the State of Connecticut and Western Massachusetts communities.”

The event, organized by June Archer & Eleven28 Entertainment, will recognize the contributions of UConn’s honorees on the lives of people and other women in the State of Connecticut. Also, other women of color will be recognized from across the fields of business, education, entrepreneurship, entertainment, government, and public service.

The gala’s goal is to provide financial support for programs that support the advancement of young women of color. Event proceeds will support scholarships for young women who graduate from high school and plan on attending College, leadership and mentorship programs.