Psychology Professor Receives $267,491 Research Grant

By Catherine Szilagyi, Student Intern of CHASS College Computing

Robin DiMatteo
Professor of Psychology

Professor Robin DiMatteo of the Psychology Department has received a two-year research grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation in the amount of $267,491. The Foundation announced the news in early December, although the grant does not go into effect until April 1 st of this year. The name of the grant is the Investigator Award in Health Policy, and it will fund Professor DiMatteo’s research, officially titled “Ethnicity, Social Class, and the Primary Care Medical Visit: The Process of Provider-Patient Communication.” Graduate students Kelly Haskard, Summer Williams, and Desiree Despues will aid Professor DiMatteo in her research.

“We’re very excited about the news,” said Professor DiMatteo, “Only eleven of these grants are given out each year, and there are usually about 250 applicants.”

The research grant will provide two years of funding to examine provider-patient communication in primary care doctor visits, with a special focus on ethnicity and social class. In line with much of DiMatteo’s past work on patient compliance and adherence to medical treatment, the project’s goal essentially is to find out whether persons of minority ethnicity and lower social class receive differential treatment from doctors and medical professionals in comparison to patients of higher social class and non-minority status.

“This is a really great opportunity, because as a social psychologist working on health, I have a chance now to apply research to very important issues and possibly improve the understanding of healthcare and how it can be more effective in the United States,” said Professor DiMatteo.

DiMatteo and her students will use meta-analysis in the first step of her research to examine all literature concerning patient-provider interactions before analyzing 250 videotaped physician-patient and nurse-patient interactions in the second stage of the research. Then, she and her students will analyze over 2000 audiotaped interactions between medical practitioners and their patients in the third stage of the work. Her research will focus on the micro level of health care analysis, specifically in the arena of primary care.

The grant is the first of its kind received at UC Riverside as a whole, not to mention the College of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences. This will contribute to efforts at UCR to bring together faculty from all departments who are interested in health care, and enable CHASS faculty to contribute more to developing science-related initiatives.

Professor DiMatteo is a Distinguished Professor within the Psychology Department and has focused her research in the disciplines of Health Psychology and Health Services Research. She received the UCR Distinguished Teaching Award in 2001-2002, and is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the American Psychological Association, and the American Psychological Society. DiMatteo has written several books focusing on individual perspectives in health care delivery.

For more information on this grant and Professor DiMatteo, please visit the Psychology Department.

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