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    Kathy Ell, DSW

    TitleErnest P. Larson Professor of Health, Ethnicity and Poverty, Professor of Social Work
    SchoolSchool of Social Work
    DepartmentSocial Work
    AddressMRF 214
    University Park Campus
    Los Angeles California 90089-0411
    Phone+1 213 740 8311
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      Kathleen Ell has conducted extensive research on health care-seeking behavior, major depression, general psychological distress, quality of life and morbidity, and mortality associated with life-threatening illness and chronic illness. A hallmark of her research and numerous publications has been a focus on low-income and ethnically diverse populations.

      Ell's research career began in 1971 in public sector care. In her social work practitioner role, Ell observed that depressed coronary care unit patients were more likely to die and conducted a study that was referenced as one of a few studies supporting the 1996 National Institutes of Health depression trial of 3,000 heart patients. Since 1980, Ell has been a principal investigator of five longitudinal studies funded by the Centers for Disease Control, the National Cancer Institute and the National Institute of Mental Health. She is currently co-principal investigator of a Department of Health and Human Services longitudinal study of 1,500 low-income diabetes patients and has two RO1 proposals under review aimed at dissemination, sustainability and integrated uptake of patient-centered safety net care. She has created a community research partnership with the Los Angeles County Department of Health Services (DHS), the second largest U.S. publicly supported safety net care system. Within DHS, results from her work have facilitated current uptake in integrating medical and behavioral health via a pilot program in which the county's Department of Mental Health co-locates graduate social workers within DHS patient-centered medical home community clinics, and an in-place DHS primary care depression care protocol modeled on her previous studies. Her collective body of work has focused on the improvement of community-based services for patients with abnormal cancer screens, individuals diagnosed with clinically significant depression, which is often concurrent with acute and/or chronic medical illness; socio-cultural adaptations aimed at reducing barriers to optimal care receipt; and patient-centered care preferences and uptake, psychological and medical outcomes, and medical provider needs to advance collaborative care models. All of her work has highlighted the effectiveness of diverse and changing roles and skills of social workers and social work assistants in optimizing medical care. Her emerging health information technology application research is also significantly focused on social work clinician preferences, needs and application in real world practice.

      In addition to her senior faculty appointment, Ell serves as the behavioral health research director of the School of Social Work's Center for Innovation and Research on Veterans and Military Families with principal responsibilities for doctoral student, post-doctorate and faculty mentoring, as well as developing and conducting research on military service and family members. She also holds a research leadership role within the USC Telehealth clinic. Ell is among the directors of the USC Clinical and Translational Science Institute Office of Community Engagement. She has also received NIH-funded minority supplements to provide mentoring and real-world research opportunities for two social work faculty, one psychiatrist, one behavioral scientist and one doctoral student.

      She has authored 83 publications, including two books. Ell has long been a strong advocate for increasing social workers' contributions to translational science and randomized clinical trials aimed at significantly advancing evidence-based and interdisciplinary social work practice. To actively promote these agendas, while on leave from the university, she worked at the NIMH and served as the executive director for the Institute for the Advancement of Social Work Research in Washington, D.C. She currently serves on the editorial board of the Journal of the Society of Social Work and Research and the consultant editorial board of the Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology.

      Over the past 16 years, Ell's comparative effectiveness research routinely examines multiple issues via multiple research methods, such as patient randomization and/or comparison across diverse care systems, and qualitative assessments of patients, providers and organizational decision-makers. This approach has helped to advance the understanding of disparities in care access and uptake by identifying socio-culturally driven patient behavior, collaborative medical and mental health provider behavior, and medical organizational priority-driven aims in the context of cost and cost-effectiveness concerns. For example, patient barriers include difficulty in communicating with medical providers and navigating multiple care/provider systems, culturally influenced stigma, treatment preferences and adherence, managing concurrent chronic medical illness (medication, self-care, pain, anxiety), while simultaneously experiencing ongoing and intermittent social and economic stress. Primary and specialty care providers are time pressured when communicating with behavioral health providers. Despite having disproportionately greater need, safety net organizations have fewer resources to support optimal acute and ongoing follow-up behavioral health care – an issue Ell believes is critical, as health care delivery adopts change in patient-provider communication and collaboration across behavioral and medical providers.

      For over three decades, her research has been highly inter-disciplinary in its approach and structure. This is exemplified in all her past and current studies and her introduction of social work into the initial development of the Clinical Translational Science Institute at USC. Today, her work continues this research trajectory via an extension of her multi-disciplinary research to include the school of engineering, as she engages in studying rapidly emerging technology-enhanced and telehealth care models with the aim of facilitating patient-centered care access and treatment uptake while reducing care costs, improving patient outcomes and advancing provider uptake. Her work has been nationally recognized by the National Cancer Institute and the Agency for Health Research and Quality via selection of her research as being ready for national uptake.


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      Publications listed below are automatically derived from MEDLINE/PubMed and other sources, which might result in incorrect or missing publications. Researchers can login to make corrections and additions, or contact us for help.
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      1. Nguyen AL, Yan T, Ell K, Gonzalez J, Enguidanos S. Care transitions among Latino diabetics: barriers to study enrollment and transition care. Ethn Health. 2016 Oct 21; 1-11. PMID: 27764957.
        View in: PubMed
      2. Panagioti M, Bower P, Kontopantelis E, Lovell K, Gilbody S, Waheed W, Dickens C, Archer J, Simon G, Ell K, Huffman JC, Richards DA, van der Feltz-Cornelis C, Adler DA, Bruce M, Buszewicz M, Cole MG, Davidson KW, de Jonge P, Gensichen J, Huijbregts K, Menchetti M, Patel V, Rollman B, Shaffer J, Zijlstra-Vlasveld MC, Coventry PA. Association Between Chronic Physical Conditions and the Effectiveness of Collaborative Care for Depression: An Individual Participant Data Meta-analysis. JAMA Psychiatry. 2016 Sep 1; 73(9):978-89. PMID: 27602561.
        View in: PubMed
      3. Oh H, Ell K. Depression remission, receipt of problem-solving therapy, and self-care behavior frequency among low-income, predominantly Hispanic diabetes patients. Gen Hosp Psychiatry. 2016 Jul-Aug; 41:38-44. PMID: 27302721.
        View in: PubMed
      4. Nedjat-Haiem FR, Carrion IV, Gonzalez K, Ell K, Thompson B, Mishra SI. Exploring Health Care Providers' Views About Initiating End-of-Life Care Communication. Am J Hosp Palliat Care. 2016 Feb 14. PMID: 26878869.
        View in: PubMed
      5. Ramirez M, Wu S, Jin H, Ell K, Gross-Schulman S, Myerchin Sklaroff L, Guterman J. Automated Remote Monitoring of Depression: Acceptance Among Low-Income Patients in Diabetes Disease Management. JMIR Ment Health. 2016; 3(1):e6. PMID: 26810139.
        View in: PubMed
      6. Ell K, Aranda MP, Wu S, Oh H, Lee PJ, Guterman J. Promotora assisted depression care among predominately Hispanic patients with concurrent chronic illness: Public care system clinical trial design. Contemp Clin Trials. 2016 Jan; 46:39-47. PMID: 26600285.
        View in: PubMed
      7. Ell K, Katon W, Lee PJ, Guterman J, Wu S. Demographic, clinical and psychosocial factors identify a high-risk group for depression screening among predominantly Hispanic patients with Type 2 diabetes in safety net care. Gen Hosp Psychiatry. 2015 Sep-Oct; 37(5):414-9. PMID: 26059979.
        View in: PubMed
      8. Wilcox SL, Oh H, Redmond SA, Chicas J, Hassan AM, Lee PJ, Ell K. A scope of the problem: Post-deployment reintegration challenges in a National Guard Unit. Work. 2015 Jan 1; 50(1):73-83. PMID: 25167910.
        View in: PubMed
      9. Wells AA, Palinkas LA, Williams SL, Ell K. Retaining Low-Income Minority Cancer Patients in a Depression Treatment Intervention Trial: Lessons Learned. Community Ment Health J. 2015 Aug; 51(6):715-22. PMID: 25544505.
        View in: PubMed
      10. Wu B, Jin H, Vidyanti I, Lee PJ, Ell K, Wu S. Collaborative depression care among latino patients in diabetes disease management, los angeles, 2011-2013. Prev Chronic Dis. 2014; 11:E148. PMID: 25167093.
        View in: PubMed
      11. Wu S, Vidyanti I, Liu P, Hawkins C, Ramirez M, Guterman J, Gross-Schulman S, Sklaroff LM, Ell K. Patient-centered technological assessment and monitoring of depression for low-income patients. J Ambul Care Manage. 2014 Apr-Jun; 37(2):138-47. PMID: 24525531.
        View in: PubMed
      12. Ell K, Oh H, Lee PJ, Guterman J. Collaborative health literate depression care among predominantly Hispanic patients with coronary heart disease in safety net care. Psychosomatics. 2014 Nov-Dec; 55(6):555-65. PMID: 25262042.
        View in: PubMed
      13. Wu S, Ell K, Gross-Schulman SG, Sklaroff LM, Katon WJ, Nezu AM, Lee PJ, Vidyanti I, Chou CP, Guterman JJ. Technology-facilitated depression care management among predominantly Latino diabetes patients within a public safety net care system: Comparative effectiveness trial design. Contemp Clin Trials. 2014 Mar; 37(2):342-54. PMID: 24215775.
        View in: PubMed
      14. Oh H, Ell K, Subica A. Depression and family interaction among low-income, predominantly hispanic cancer patients: a longitudinal analysis. Support Care Cancer. 2014 Feb; 22(2):427-34. PMID: 24091718.
        View in: PubMed
      15. Wells AA, Palinkas LA, Shon EJ, Ell K. Low-income cancer patients in depression treatment: dropouts and completers. J Behav Health Serv Res. 2013 Oct; 40(4):427-41. PMID: 23868016.
        View in: PubMed
      16. Nedjat-Haiem FR, Carrion IV, Lorenz KA, Ell K, Palinkas L. Psychosocial concerns among Latinas with life-limiting advanced cancers. Omega (Westport). 2013; 67(1-2):167-74. PMID: 23977793.
        View in: PubMed
      17. Nedjat-Haiem FR, Lorenz KA, Ell K, Hamilton A, Palinkas L. Experiences with advanced cancer among latinas in a public health care system. J Pain Symptom Manage. 2012 Jun; 43(6):1013-24. PMID: 22575719.
        View in: PubMed
      18. Ell K, Katon W, Lee PJ, Kapetanovic S, Guterman J, Xie B, Chou CP. Depressive Symptom Deterioration among Predominantly Hispanic Diabetes Patients in Safety Net Care. Psychosomatics. 2012 Jul; 53(4):347-55. PMID: 22458987.
        View in: PubMed
      19. Nedjat-Haiem FR, Carrion IV, Ell K, Palinkas L. Navigating the advanced cancer experience of underserved Latinas. Support Care Cancer. 2012 Dec; 20(12):3095-104. PMID: 22418600.
        View in: PubMed
      20. Fann JR, Ell K, Sharpe M. Integrating psychosocial care into cancer services. J Clin Oncol. 2012 Apr 10; 30(11):1178-86. PMID: 22412139.
        View in: PubMed
      21. Hay JW, Katon WJ, Ell K, Lee PJ, Guterman JJ. Cost-Effectiveness Analysis of Collaborative Care Management of Major Depression among Low-Income, Predominantly Hispanics with Diabetes. Value Health. 2012 Mar; 15(2):249-54. PMID: 22433755.
        View in: PubMed
      22. Wells AA, Palinkas LA, Qiu X, Ell K. Cancer patients' perspectives on discontinuing depression treatment: the "drop out" phenomenon. Patient Prefer Adherence. 2011; 5:465-70. PMID: 22003283.
        View in: PubMed
      23. Ell K, Katon W, Xie B, Lee PJ, Kapetanovic S, Guterman J, Chou CP. One-year postcollaborative depression care trial outcomes among predominantly Hispanic diabetes safety net patients. Gen Hosp Psychiatry. 2011 Sep-Oct; 33(5):436-42. PMID: 21774987.
        View in: PubMed
      24. Ell K, Xie B, Kapetanovic S, Quinn DI, Lee PJ, Wells A, Chou CP. One-year follow-up of collaborative depression care for low-income, predominantly Hispanic patients with cancer. Psychiatr Serv. 2011 Feb; 62(2):162-70. PMID: 21285094.
        View in: PubMed
      25. Ell K, Aranda MP, Xie B, Lee PJ, Chou CP. Collaborative depression treatment in older and younger adults with physical illness: pooled comparative analysis of three randomized clinical trials. Am J Geriatr Psychiatry. 2010 Jun; 18(6):520-30. PMID: 20220588.
        View in: PubMed
      26. Ell K, Katon W, Xie B, Lee PJ, Kapetanovic S, Guterman J, Chou CP. Collaborative care management of major depression among low-income, predominantly Hispanic subjects with diabetes: a randomized controlled trial. Diabetes Care. 2010 Apr; 33(4):706-13. PMID: 20097780.
        View in: PubMed
      27. Ell K, Vourlekis B, Xie B, Nedjat-Haiem FR, Lee PJ, Muderspach L, Russell C, Palinkas LA. Cancer treatment adherence among low-income women with breast or gynecologic cancer: a randomized controlled trial of patient navigation. Cancer. 2009 Oct 1; 115(19):4606-15. PMID: 19551881.
        View in: PubMed
      28. Ell K, Katon W, Cabassa LJ, Xie B, Lee PJ, Kapetanovic S, Guterman J. Depression and diabetes among low-income Hispanics: design elements of a socioculturally adapted collaborative care model randomized controlled trial. Int J Psychiatry Med. 2009; 39(2):113-32. PMID: 19860071.
        View in: PubMed
      29. Ell K, Xie B, Quon B, Quinn DI, Dwight-Johnson M, Lee PJ. Randomized controlled trial of collaborative care management of depression among low-income patients with cancer. J Clin Oncol. 2008 Sep 20; 26(27):4488-96. PMID: 18802161.
        View in: PubMed
      30. Cabassa LJ, Hansen MC, Palinkas LA, Ell K. Azúcar y nervios: explanatory models and treatment experiences of Hispanics with diabetes and depression. Soc Sci Med. 2008 Jun; 66(12):2413-24. PMID: 18339466.
        View in: PubMed
      31. Ell K, Xie B, Wells A, Nedjat-Haiem F, Lee PJ, Vourlekis B. Economic stress among low-income women with cancer: effects on quality of life. Cancer. 2008 Feb 1; 112(3):616-25. PMID: 18085642.
        View in: PubMed
      32. Ell K, Quon B, Quinn DI, Dwight-Johnson M, Wells A, Lee PJ, Xie B. Improving treatment of depression among low-income patients with cancer: the design of the ADAPt-C study. Gen Hosp Psychiatry. 2007 May-Jun; 29(3):223-31. PMID: 17484939.
        View in: PubMed
      33. Zebrack BJ, Ell K, Smith WB. Suicide risk in childhood cancer survivors. J Clin Oncol. 2007 Feb 20; 25(6):732-3; author reply 733-4. PMID: 17308282.
        View in: PubMed
      34. Vourlekis B, Ell K. Best practice case management for improved medical adherence. Soc Work Health Care. 2007; 44(3):161-77. PMID: 17548273.
        View in: PubMed
      35. Ell K, Unützer J, Aranda M, Gibbs NE, Lee PJ, Xie B. Managing depression in home health care: a randomized clinical trial. Home Health Care Serv Q. 2007; 26(3):81-104. PMID: 17804354.
        View in: PubMed
      36. Ell K, Vourlekis B, Lee PJ, Xie B. Patient navigation and case management following an abnormal mammogram: a randomized clinical trial. Prev Med. 2007 Jan; 44(1):26-33. PMID: 16962652.
        View in: PubMed
      37. Ell K. Depression care for the elderly: reducing barriers to evidence-based practice. Home Health Care Serv Q. 2006; 25(1-2):115-48. PMID: 16803741.
        View in: PubMed
      38. Dwight-Johnson M, Ell K, Lee PJ. Can collaborative care address the needs of low-income Latinas with comorbid depression and cancer? Results from a randomized pilot study. Psychosomatics. 2005 May-Jun; 46(3):224-32. PMID: 15883143.
        View in: PubMed
      39. Vourlekis B, Ell K, Padgett D. Evidence-based assessment in case management to improve abnormal cancer screen follow-up. Health Soc Work. 2005 May; 30(2):98-106. PMID: 15974370.
        View in: PubMed
      40. Ell K, Sanchez K, Vourlekis B, Lee PJ, Dwight-Johnson M, Lagomasino I, Muderspach L, Russell C. Depression, correlates of depression, and receipt of depression care among low-income women with breast or gynecologic cancer. J Clin Oncol. 2005 May 1; 23(13):3052-60. PMID: 15860863.
        View in: PubMed
      41. Ell K, Unützer J, Aranda M, Sanchez K, Lee PJ. Routine PHQ-9 depression screening in home health care: depression, prevalence, clinical and treatment characteristics and screening implementation. Home Health Care Serv Q. 2005; 24(4):1-19. PMID: 16446263.
        View in: PubMed
      42. Ell K, Vourlekis B, Muderspach L, Nissly J, Padgett D, Pineda D, Sarabia O, Lee PJ. Abnormal cervical screen follow-up among low-income Latinas: Project SAFe. J Womens Health Gend Based Med. 2002 Sep; 11(7):639-51. PMID: 12396896.
        View in: PubMed
      43. Ell K, Vourlekis B, Nissly J, Padgett D, Pineda D, Sarabia O, Walther V, Blumenfield S, Lee PJ. Integrating mental health screening and abnormal cancer screening follow-up: an intervention to reach low-income women. Community Ment Health J. 2002 Aug; 38(4):311-25. PMID: 12166918.
        View in: PubMed
      44. Ell K, Padgett D, Vourlekis B, Nissly J, Pineda D, Sarabia O, Walther V, Blumenfield S, Lee PJ. Abnormal mammogram follow-up: a pilot study women with low income. Cancer Pract. 2002 May-Jun; 10(3):130-8. PMID: 11972567.
        View in: PubMed
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