The ARHP is pleased to announce the first recipients of its new Graduate Student Recognition Award: Rahul Kanna and Denise Power. By supporting the efforts of non-medical graduate students interested in rheumatology, this new award program recognizes creative research projects that merge the theory and clinical practice of rheumatologic care in an effort to improve the lives of patients with rheumatic diseases.
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Explore This IssueNovember 2006
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Larry Perlmuter, PhD, presented the idea for this award to the ARHP Practice and Management Committee as a way to encourage young research investigators to further their careers in rheumatology. The committee refined his idea to include clinical and research students of all health-related fields and presented the idea to the ACR Executive Committee, which was strongly in favor and suggested the cash and membership award. “We were very excited to have 11 very qualified applicants for the award,” says committee chair Jane Brandenstein, BS, PT.
Rahul Kanna, a graduate assistant in West Virginia University’s Department of Pharmaceutical Systems and Policy, was recognized for his exploration of the use of medical services among Medicaid recipients who have both RA and diagnosed depression.
As part of the requirements for a database analysis class he was taking, Kanna started a small descriptive analysis project profiling recipients of Medicaid in West Virginia who also have an RA diagnosis. He aimed to track how many patients there were, determine a demographic profile for each patient, and identify any comorbidities each patient might have. His initial analysis showed that a large number of Medicaid recipients with an RA diagnosis also exhibited depression as a comorbidity. This information, coupled with current literature suggesting that RA patients are twice as likely to experience depression, led to a hypothesis he wanted to explore further.
“I’m very excited to get some support and recognition for this research. Based on what I learned during my preliminary descriptive analysis project, I think I can show that Medicaid patients who have both RA and diagnosed depression are more likely to use medical services, like outpatient visits and prescription medications,” says Kanna. “If my hypothesis is accurate, the findings of this research project could ultimately lead to better identification and management of the risk factors associated with depression in RA patients. If we can detect depression and begin treatment earlier, we may be able to decrease the use of medical services by these patients, thus leading to decreased cost for RA care over time.”