News Center for Dissemination & Implementation Behavioral/ Mental Health

D&I science aids researchers studying perioperative mental health

Written by Kim Furlow, communications manager for the Institute for Public Health 


Two doctors say resources provided by the Center for Dissemination & Implementation have been important to incorporating D&I-science into the approaches proposed in newly NIH-funded Center for Perioperative Mental Health at Washington University. The principal investigators, Drs. Eric Lenze and Michael Avidan and a transdisciplinary team recently opened the new WashU center, the first-ever to focus on urgent mental health issues-such as depression-associated with older adults in the perioperative period. The team spans the Departments of Surgery, Orthopedic Surgery, Otolaryngology, Anesthesiology, and Psychiatry, as well as the Brown School of Social Work, the Institute for Informatics, Goldfarb School of Nursing and Barnes Jewish Hospital.

Dr. Lenze says their team has added D&I science to the center’s research to “help inform how they should develop and test interventions for perioperative mental health problems. In short, we are ‘designing for dissemination’ – using D&I science to ensure that the intervention we designed can be done in the real world.”

Center for Perioperative Mental Health leaders note that Institute for Public Health Faculty Scholars and implementation scientists, Ana Baumann, Mary Politi and Beth Prusaczyk have been “instrumental in the genesis and shaping of the center” as have D&I related activities.

“Advice and feedback from the Center for Dissemination & Implementation’s Next Steps Proposal & Development Bootcamp and monthly Washington University Network for Dissemination and Implementation Research (WUNDIR) meetings have been valuable and led to our successful funding,” Lenze says. At WUNDIR’s regular meetings (held every six weeks), D&I researchers can learn about new resources for D&I science, receive peer critique of papers and grant proposals, and plan joint projects. The group works to forge a transdisciplinary understanding of the methodological issues and conceptual challenges required for multiyear dissemination and implementation research grants.

Dr. Avidan adds, “We are deeply grateful to Elvin Geng, Ross Brownson, Enola Proctor, and other faculty in the Center for Dissemination & Implementation for spending time with us, and helping us ensure that our grant application for the Center for Perioperative Mental Health had a solid D&I focus.”

Now that it is open, Dr. Lenze says the new center is testing whether timely psychotherapy and pharmacological adjustments (namely, medication optimization and de-prescribing) will help patients undergoing major elective orthopedic, oncological, and cardiac surgery. “We hope to reduce the negative effects of active mental health conditions.”

Lenze and Avidan both agree that researchers should add dissemination and implementation science to their work and that the Center for D&I at the Institute for Public Health is a “rich resource” from which to glean expertise and tools for success.

The Center for D&I at the Institute for Public Health seeks to advance the use of dissemination and implementation research through the scientific community at WashU, and ultimately enhance impact of the science.