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New Emphasis on Health Behaviors and Diabetes

Date Posted: Thursday, December 01, 2016

The UMass Diabetes Center of Excellence (DCOE) is one of five institutions in the United States which was chosen by Bringing Science Home for a collaborative training program to increase capacity in diabetes psychology. Postdoctoral fellows will be trained for one year at five nationally recognized diabetes clinical research institutions: Stanford University, University of Chicago, Joslin Diabetes Center at Harvard University, University of Florida, and University of Massachusetts Medical School. 

According to Dr. Nicole Johnson, a well-known diabetes advocate, member of the DCOE Visiting Advisory Committee, and the force behind this diabetes psychology training program, "There is a serious need for more clinical psychologists who specialize in the management of chronic diseases, especially diabetes."

Unfortunately, it is uncommon to have a psychologist on staff providing behavioral treatments for patients with diabetes, even though they are among the most likely to benefit from behavioral modification. The project will train and mentor postdoctoral fellows to address the challenge of far too few clinical psychologists with diabetes expertise. It will allow them to work with renowned diabetes researchers and clinicians.  They will be exposed to both didactic and hands-on diabetes-specific training experiences, and experience new technological advances in diabetes care. 

Dr. Barry will seeing patients in both the adult and pediatric clinics, and will also conduct clinical research. Her interests include pediatric diabetes psychology, family stress as it relates to diabetes care, and diabetes management in psychosocially vulnerable populations. She will join the Live Life Clinic and work on a transition program to design new educational programs for young adults, enhance social support aspects of diabetes treatment, and focus on the successful management of everyday diabetes-related issues to maximize quality of life.

Dr. Barry’s research will focus on psychosocial screening of people with diabetes, which includes regular screening of depression and anxiety symptoms, with the hope of better understanding of the diabetes population throughout the Worcester area.  These screening tools will help to predict future difficulties managing diabetes and will allow clinicians to intervene on subclinical difficulties before they interfere with diabetes management.  

Dr. Barry grew up in Worcester and found her passion for medicine doing research at the University of Massachusetts Medical School while in college.  Her clinical goals include helping individuals with diabetes to develop effective coping mechanisms, prioritize and set achievable goals, and celebrate small achievements in their daily lives. While diabetes educators teach patients about the disease, Dr. Barry points out, "there is a big difference between knowing and doing.”  She focuses on practical ways to help people living with diabetes by using a holistic approach to the patient as “a whole person.” 

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