Background: Ms. Fox graduated Tufts University in Boston in 2007, earned a Master’s in Clinical Psychology from San Diego State University (Calif.) in 2012, and her Master’s in Public Health in 2014. A clinical psychology PhD student, her interest in rheumatic disease stems from what she sees as a “need and role for psychology” in the treatment of scleroderma.
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Explore This IssueJanuary 2016
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“There is a real need, an opening, for psychological intervention,” she says, “and for having a psychologically oriented perspective when approaching medical intervention, as well, given the unique aspects of this particular rare illness.”
In 2014, Ms. Fox earned the Rheumatology Research Foundation’s Health Professional Research Preceptorship for her project, Differences in Sociodemographic and Medical Correlates of Body Image Distress in Patients with Limited and Diffuse Systemic Sclerosis. The ARHP’s Graduate Student Award is for a manuscript Ms. Fox is preparing, titled “Fear of Negative Evaluation in Patients with Systemic Sclerosis.”
‘Remember that there are other components at play beyond just medical variables that are going to influence an individual’s experience of the disease.’ —Rina Sobel Fox, MS, MPH
Q: What was the focus of your ARHP project?
A: The proposal was to evaluate the appropriateness of a questionnaire, the Brief Fear of Negative Evaluation Scale, for use among patients with scleroderma. In the future, we can use this questionnaire to study how appearance changes may affect people’s social relationships.
Q: What sparked your interest in this topic?
A: Before beginning my graduate studies, I had the opportunity to work in a health literacy lab, where I first discovered the field of health psychology. Subsequently, during graduate school, I was introduced to scleroderma research by my mentor, Dr. Vanessa Malcarne.
Q: What words do you have for clinicians caring for scleroderma patients?
A: I think the rheumatologists who treat this particular illness are really amazing. I think people who have expertise in this area are really very skillful at recognizing and treating the holistic impact of the disease. I would say just keep doing what you’re doing, and remember that there are other components at play beyond just medical variables that are going to influence an individual’s experience of the disease.
Q: What does this award mean to you?
A: It’s an incredible honor. It was very surprising, and very humbling and very exciting.
Q: Have you had a mentor?
A: Absolutely. I have been astoundingly fortunate to study under the mentorship of Dr. Vanessa Malcarne for the past six years now. She’s the one who introduced me to this type of work, and to scleroderma, in general. I truly would not be where I am without her guidance.
ARHP Graduate Student Award
Antoine Baldassari, MPH/PhD student, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, N.C.