K Award Grantee Interview: Jennifer DeVoe, M.D., D.Phil.
The following is a transcript of grantee responses to the following questions:
- What is the primary focus of your research?
- How has funding from AHRQ helped to advance your research?
- Why did you choose to focus on this topic?
- How has your AHRQ funding helped you help other health services researchers?
Jennifer DeVoe: The primary focus of my research is looking at how vulnerable populations access care and the barriers to their receipt of care, and better understanding how different changes in the policy environment and the health care practice environment impact on their access to care. For example, we look at health insurance policy changes and what happens to various populations who gain or lose health insurance and how they are able to receive recommended primary care and primary services. Much of the work has also been looking at families, so better understanding what happens to children when their parents’ insurance changes, what happens to families when new insurance policies impact their access to health insurance, and then how they change the way that they seek care and whether or not they’re able to receive the care that they need.
AHRQ’s funding helped me launch my career in health services research, and it has been very transformative in the work that I do in helping me to establish an independent research career and to provide mentorship to many young health services researchers. AHRQ was tremendous in supporting my fellowship directly following my family medicine residency and helped me to better understand the importance of health services research, supported my work so that I was able to develop a laboratory in primary care research that is now providing opportunities for many young investigators to pursue research interests and to contribute to national conversations relevant to health services research.
My research interests and passions primarily come directly from experiences with patients and their families in the health care system. As a family physician, I’ve seen many patients who have significant barriers accessing basic primary care and preventive services. And I wanted to use research to better understand barriers and to understand how changes in the policy and practice environment can help vulnerable populations get better care and improve their health. So my research is driven primarily by patients’ experiences and using data and research methods to help understand what’s happening in the larger health care environment and then use that information to inform change and to inform a better way forward for many patients and populations in our country and across the world.
AHRQ funded me for a postdoctoral fellowship and also a career development award, which helped me improve my health services research skills and also network with other researchers interested in similar topics. And through this early funding in these early years, we were able to develop a Practice-Based Research Network at the Ochin Community Health Information Network in Portland, Oregon, but now with health centers across the country. And this has served as a wonderful community laboratory for primary care research, health services research, and better understanding how we can reduce and eliminate health disparities. So now we have a really wonderful laboratory and infrastructure for many young and up-and-coming scientists who want to better understand how policy and practice changes are impacting vulnerable populations. We have very motivated clinics and a number of other partners who are working in this field with us. And so the AHRQ funding really helped us develop not only a specific project, but also this really wonderful infrastructure for many scientists who partner and support their careers and the important work that they’re doing.