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Matthew J. Chinman, PhD – Research Career Scientist

Matthew J. Chinman, PhD
VA Pittsburgh Healthcare System University Drive Division, Pittsburgh, PA
Pittsburgh, PA 

In 2001, I joined-at 5/8ths FTE-the VA Desert Pacific Mental Illness Research, Education, and Clinical Center (MIRECC) at the Greater Los Angeles VA to conduct implementation research on understanding how Peer Specialists could improve the quality of care for Veterans with serious mental illness (SMI). At the same time, I became employed-50% FTE-by the non-profit RAND Corporation at the Associate Behavioral Scientist level. RAND is the premier US think-tank focused on informing public policy debates via objective science. Employing 1770 people (950 with advanced degrees), RAND's researchers publish hundreds of peer reviewed papers and presentations annually and have tens of millions of dollars in government (e.g., NIH) grant funding, impacting the most pressing problems including sexual assault in the military, terrorism, legalization of marijuana, and Veteran's issues. As such, RAND should be considered my 'academic affiliate'. In 2008, I moved to Pittsburgh, switching my VA position to VA Pittsburgh, where I am currently the Director of the Implementation Core at the HSR&D COIN, the Center for Health Equity and Promotion (CHERP) and a Core Investigator in the VISN4 MIRECC. I serve on the Executive Committees of both. I have maintained my 50% FTE employment at RAND, where I have achieved the highest rank, Senior Behavioral Scientist. After moving to Pittsburgh in 2008, I joined the University of Pittsburgh (Pitt) Department of Psychiatry as an adjunct. In 2022, I was recruited to teach and mentor on implementation science at the University, with an anticipated October 2022 appointment as Professor of Medicine in the School of Medicine.

My current VA research portfolio focuses on how Peer Specialists promote the mental health recovery of Veterans with SMI, a key priority of the VA's Office of National Director of Peer Support, VHA, and HSR&D. Since 2003, I have led HSR&D studies of VA Peer Specialists as they expanded from a pilot initiative of a few dozen to nearly 1200 employed VA-wide. Across 14 IIR, RRP, LIP, and QUERI grants I led as PI/MPI, this work has guided the implementation of VA's national comprehensive policy on deploying Peer Specialists and led to the creation of a new field of HSR focused on this novel type of VA provider. For 4 years, I conducted a national randomized program evaluation of deploying Peer Specialists on VA Patient Aligned Care Teams (PACTs) at 25 VAMCs, as directed by White House Executive Action. As the first evaluation of its kind, its methods informed the evaluation of the MISSION Act, which deployed Peer Specialists in PACT at 30 additional VAMCs. This work has expanded the Peer Specialist role beyond SMI, to a broader patient population at the intersection of mental and physical health. I am currently serving as the PI of two HSR&D Merits focused on Veterans with SMI, testing the use of Peer Specialists to deliver an evidence-based social and cognitive skills training intervention and a weight loss intervention that uses a combination of fitness trackers and Peer Specialist coaching. Both are poised to broaden the scope of Peer Specialists, and thus expose more Veterans to evidence-based practices. My first-authored papers establishing a Peer Specialists research agenda and predicting Peer Specialist engagement were both selected Editor's Choice in Psychiatric Services.

I have also been centrally involved in the development of implementation science since its inception, designing and working on implementation trials in mental health, primary care, and after school settings. In these trials, I created, applied, evaluated, and refined Getting To Outcomes® (GTO®), a robust implementation strategy with demonstrated effectiveness. I helped develop ERIC (Expert Recommendations for Implementing Change)-a taxonomy of 73 implementation strategies meant to standardize terminology in the field. ERIC has been adopted by NIH and VA and the Implementation Science article has been accessed >99,000 times and cited ~1800 times. My first-authored Medical Care paper on integrating implementation science and disparities research was the first to make this connection explicit and has led to the development of multiple frameworks.

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