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Nadine Kasparian

2018–19 Australian Harkness Fellow in Health Care Policy and Practice Associate Professor of Medical Psychology UNSW Sydney National Heart Foundation of Australia Future Leader Fellow Head of Medical Psychology Sydney Children’s Hospitals Network Cardiac Service

Nadine Kasparian

Placement: Harvard Medical School and Boston Children’s Hospital

Mentor: Thomas Lee, M.D., M.Sc. (Chief Medical Officer, Press Ganey)

Co-mentor: Jane Newburger, M.D., M.P.H. (Commonwealth Professor of Pediatrics, Harvard Medical School; Associate Cardiologist-in-Chief for Academic Affairs, Department of Cardiology, Children’s Hospital Boston)

Project: Developing a Strategic Model for Better Access to, and Improved Quality and Efficiency of, Mental Health Care for Children and Young People with Critical or Chronic Physical Illness

Nadine Kasparian, Ph.D., is a 2018–19 Australian Harkness Fellow in Health Care Policy and Practice. She is an Associate Professor in Medicine at UNSW Sydney, and Head of Medical Psychology at the Sydney Children’s Hospitals Network Cardiac Service. She also holds a National Heart Foundation of Australia Future Leader Fellowship, and leads the Melanoma Institute Australia’s supportive care program. Kasparian has over 100 published outputs, including articles in top-ranking journals, such as the Journal of Clinical Oncology, JAMA Internal Medicine, and Genetics in Medicine. She has secured over $20 million in competitive research grant funding, and is the recipient of 29 awards, including a 2018 Quality & Innovation Award for Excellence in the Provision of Mental Health Services. Kasparian is an executive member of 10 national or international committees, is founder and chair of the Cardiac Society of Australia and New Zealand’s Mental Health Care Working Group, and co-chair of the SPHERE Mindgardens Clinical Academic Group. Kasparian is currently leading the development of the mental health strategy within Australia’s first National Childhood Heart Disease Action Plan funded by the Australian Federal Government. Her research investigates psychological and neurobiological aspects of critical and chronic disease, with an emphasis on the development, trial and translation of interventions to improve the mental health of children and adults with life-threatening illness. She received her Ph.D. in Medical Psychology at the University of Sydney and is also a practicing clinician.

Project Abstract: There is strong evidence of a disproportionately high rate of psychological comorbidity in children and young people with critical or chronic physical illness, further compounding vulnerability and burden of disease in this population. Integrating mental health services into the clinical settings where vulnerable children and families are already engaged is a key factor distinguishing successful mental health interventions, and has been shown to be feasible, acceptable and effective. This research will focus on developing evidence to inform a strategic model for better access to, and improved quality and efficiency of, mental health care services for children and young people with critical or chronic physical illness. The project aims to addresses four research questions: 1) What is best practice mental health care for this population in the U.S.? 2) What are the hallmarks of highly innovative, effective and sustainable models of mental health care? 3) How can effective policies and practices in high performing centers be implemented to transform mental health care? and 4) What lessons from the Australian mental health care landscape can inform enhancements to U.S. health policy and practice?

A mixed methods approach will be carried out in five key phases, including systematic review of existing evidence, big data linkage, semi-structured interviews with key stakeholders, and a web-based Delphi study to identify an optimal and resilient mental health care model for children and young people with critical or chronic physical illness. The project will yield a model to be tested in a future international implementation trial, and will generate evidence to inform electronic patient-reported outcome systems to maximize efficiency and minimize potential barriers to implementation.

Career Activity Since Fellowship

  • Associate Professor, School of Women’s and Children’s Health, UNSW; Head of Medical Psychology, The Sydney Children's Hospitals Network Cardiac Service

Current Position: 

  • Professor of Pediatrics and Director of the Cincinnati Children’s Center for Heart Disease & the Developing Mind, Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center 

Harkness-Related Publications:

N. Kasparian, J. Kan, E. Sood, J. Wray, H. Pincus, J. Newburger. Mental health care for parents of babies with congenital heart disease during intensive care unit admission: Systematic review and statement of best practice. Early Human Development. 2019.

M. Carazo, M. Kolodziej, E. DeWitt, N. Kasparian, J. Newburger, V. Duarte, M. Singh, A. Opotowsky. Prevalence and Prognostic Association of a Clinical Diagnosis of Depression in Adult Congenital Heart Disease: Results of the Boston Adult Congenital Heart Disease Biobank. Journal of the American Heart Association. 2020.

K. Marshall, Y. D'Udekem, G. Sholler, A. Opotowsky, D. Costa, L. Sharpe, D. Celermajer, D. Winlaw, J. Newburger, N. Kasparian. Health-Related Quality of Life in Children, Adolescents, and Adults With a Fontan Circulation: A Meta-Analysis. Journal of the American Heart Association. 2020.