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Center for Urban Youth & Families (CUYF)

Research Scientist

Susan Caplan

Dr. Susan Caplan is an Assistant Professor at Rutgers School of Nursing, Newark, New Jersey.  Dr. Caplan is a family nurse practitioner with more than 15 years experience in nursing.  Her research interest is in health disparity and community interventions.  Her works expertise is in global health initiatives and community based participatory research in the Latino community.  Her current project titled “A Pilot Study of a Promotoras Diabetes Health Education and Management Program in Thirteen Rural Villages in the Dominican Republic” is designed to evaluate the feasibility of a diabetes management program delivered by promotoras. 

Read More About Dr. Susan Caplan

July 21, 2014 – Summary of Dominican Republic Health Services Research, Dr. Susan Caplan, Assistant Professor, Rutgers University, The State University of New Jersey.

On July 5th through July 14th an interdisciplinary team from Rutgers including Dr. Susan Caplan representing nursing, Dr. Javier Escobar representing global health and psychiatry,  Dr. Karen Lin representing family medicine, and Luis Facundo representing urban planning, traveled to the Dominican Republic through a GAIA funded grant.  Accompanying us were three medical students, Kaila Queen, Ritu Nahaar and Jonathan Tsui and two nursing students, Grismer Gonzalez and Erica Clerjuste.  The objectives of our project, "Chronic, Severe Mental Disorders in Rural Areas of the Dominican Republic: Teambuilding and Discussion Groups” were to:

  1. Build an interdisciplinary team of faculty, clinicians, researchers, community leaders and students from the US and the DR to develop mental health services research
  2. Explore health care workers’ and community leaders’ perceptions of existing mental health services, available treatment, and stigma towards treatment of people with persistent mental illness in rural areas of the DR.
  3. Identify barriers to care in the primary care setting of the DR for persons with persistent mental illness
  4. Identify potential strategies to address these barriers in the primary care health care setting and at a national policy level.
  5. Discuss mental health policy and service delivery, and specific needs such as suicide prevention.

During the course of our trip, we conducted five focus groups with Community Leaders, Directors of hospitals, regional health directors, and representatives from USAIDS, primary care providers, psychiatrists, psychologists, nurses and ancillary health care professionals in Bonao, La Vega, San Cristobal, Santo Domingo and Yamasá.  Each focus group provided us with new and more in-depth perspectives.  Most people stated that there is a tremendous need for an infrastructure to provide mental health services.  The approach to mental health services expansion would include interdisciplinary teams focused on community education that would address stigma about mental illness and also cultural issues that create barriers to care for people with severe mental illness.  The majority of people agreed that domestic violence is a huge problem in the country.  Its causes are multifactorial, and would require a systems approach at all levels to bring awareness of the issue and promote change.  The general consensus is that there is a need for training of primary care providers, nurses and developers in the area of mental health and domestic violence.

We visited Padre Billini hospital, the major psychiatric in-patient facility in the country, where a televised reporting of the proceedings was aired on CDN and also featured in Dominican Today.  We met with the Minister of Mental Health, the Taiwanese Embassy and the Office of the First Lady, all of whom are behind our initiative.  Dr. Susan Caplan was featured on Channel 25, in conjunction with Dr. Valdes, and Dr. Carmen Santana, to discuss interfamilial violence and the initiatives of Escuelas de Familias. We hope to continue this initiative with an interdisciplinary team of professionals with the expertise to address domestic violence and mental health.

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