New Clinicians Research Digest (CRD) editor Thomas Joiner, PhD, wears a hat that's different from most of APA's journal editors. Rather than edit and knead submitted research articles, his monthly challenge is to cull four dozen APA and other journals for the best, most clinically relevant research studies. Then, he and his associate editors boil them down into tight summaries that clinicians can read, say, on their subway commute or over their morning coffee.
He hunts for two things: scientific excellence and immediate clinical relevance. "I am looking for articles that lend themselves to telling a clinician 'Here is something that you might use in the next hour when you see a client,'" Joiner explains.
And while CRD has always offered clinicians "news you can use" articles, Joiner has a plan to make the publication even more valuable to clinicians-adding a brief section to every article on "How This Helps Practitioners." His other goals for the journal include boosting its content in often-neglected areas such as suicide and obesity, stepping up marketing efforts and featuring more groundbreaking clinical science. To that end, he chose four scientist-practitioner associate editors working at facilities or universities that are "integrating the best science with cutting-edge clinical work," Joiner says.
A foot in each camp
Joiner's experience as a clinician and researcher attracted him to CRD. In fact, he believes the journal has the potential to play a key role in bridging the field's science and practice gap. On the practice side, as the Bright-Burton Professor of Psychology at Florida State University, he directs the university's scientifically oriented community outpatient mental health clinic. The clinic was among the first winners of APA's Board of Educational Affairs Awards for Innovative Practices in Graduate Education. On the research side, he has logged more than 20 years of research and scholarly publishing in areas such as suicide and mood and eating disorders.
"It's hard to be comfortable in both camps," says Joiner, of psychological science and practice. "But the science-practice gap is a very important dilemma of the field that can only be solved by people willing to respect both camps and be in both camps."
His most recent book, "Why People Die by Suicide" (Harvard University Press, 2006), also reflects his clinical and research insight, and was written with a Guggenheim Fellowship. The book draws on clinical and epidemiological evidence-and personal experience with his father's suicide-to explain suicidal behavior and its warning signs.
"Suicide hasn't gotten enough attention," he maintains. The neglect is a result of too few psychologists who can train others in best practices, he says. "And, frankly, a lot of people-including clinicians-are afraid of it," he adds. But that's not an acceptable excuse for something that kills 30,000 Americans each year."
Additional areas Joiner aims to spotlight in CRD include eating disorders and obesity-which he believes are also getting less attention than they merit because there are still too few experts.
For his part, Joiner has selected four associate editors who have science-practice expertise in underserved areas or rapidly growing populations he'd like to see featured in his journal's pages, such as ethnic-minorities and the elderly. They are:
Kimberly Driscoll, PhD, of Cincinnati Children's Hospital, who specializes in the psychosocial aspects of cystic fibrosis.
Lorraine Reitzel, PhD, of the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, who specializes in cancer prevention and health disparities research.
Kelly Cukrowizc, PhD, of Duke University, who specializes in suicide and depression in older adults.
Marisol Perez, PhD, of Texas A&M University, who specializes in eating disorders and ethnic-minority mental health.
"It can be a challenge to boil down a complicated scientific article into a short summary," Joiner explains. "My editors all have…great writing skills and a good eye for articles that lend themselves to the clinical bottom line."While CRD does not accept original submissions, psychologists who want their published research considered for CRD can e-mail Joiner.