Next month, psychologist Alexander Blount, EdD, will begin his tenure as editor of APA's Families, Systems, & Health. The professor of clinical family medicine at the University of Massachusetts Medical School takes on this new role just as he ends a three-year term as chair of the Collaborative Family Healthcare Association, a multidisciplinary organization of health professionals who seek to provide more holistic health care.
He plans to continue the journal's tradition of publishing research on new, evidence-based models of treatment collaboration between families, mental health professionals and other health-care providers. But he says he'd like to make the journal even more "focused on research that's immediately relevant to clinical practices."
Blount also hopes to see more papers that speak to health psychologists and medical professionals in family practice, pediatrics and internal medicine. One way to attract these readers may be through special issues, he says. One such topic could be collaborative models for patient-centered "medical homes," an increasingly popular form of primary care designed to provide comprehensive health care for children and adults with chronic conditions. In a medical home model, primary-care physicians, working with teams of professionals within the primary-care practice, address a broader spectrum of needs, advocate for patients and coordinate their care across the health-care system. The process is augmented by secure Web sites, electronic medical records and ongoing information exchange. This helps avoid unnecessary tests and procedures, hospital admissions and preventable complications.
"Some [medical home] models have been so effective at both improving health outcomes and saving costs that physician groups, payer companies and federal health agencies have been suggesting they may spread across the country," Blount says.
He is quick to point out, however, that a focus on medical homes is just one example, and that special issues—such as the one in 2007 on clinical research on families and chronic illness—will continue to be part of the core mission of the journal.
Blount also hopes to continue receiving submissions from authors who hail from many different backgrounds, such as nursing, social work and adult and family medicine.
"The past practices of the journal in terms of who they've gotten involved and what they've published are really stellar," he says. "There's a lot that I just want to hold on to and try and keep up with."