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About this Blog Series

   Ana Aluisy, MA, LMFT

As a former Marine, Ana Aluisy, MA, LMFT, has seen her fair share of conflict. In her work as a marriage and family therapist, she has also helped hundreds of people navigate challenging circumstances.

Aluisy truly believes in the healing power of therapy and recently became inspired to pursue an interdisciplinary doctorate in behavioral health and community sciences at the University of South Florida.

In her 11 years as a practicing therapist, Aluisy has noted that many people are unable or unwilling to seek out mental health services. She attributes this to multiple factors, including financial constraints, language barriers, and perceived stigma.

Not Just about the Language Barrier

Born and raised in Ecuador, Aluisy says a desire “to serve the Latino community” and to understand the underutilization of mental health resources among Spanish-speaking people motivated her to begin her doctoral studies. Through her dissertation, she hopes to identify effective approaches to “get people the services that they need.” She is currently performing a systematic review of studies examining the use of mental health services. Her preliminary findings suggest that language barrier is one of the most common factors affecting utilization.

Even so, Aluisy explains that other obstacles exist and “it’s not just about the language barrier.” She adds that perceived stigma about therapy and mental health disorders “is a more subtle limitation than language barrier,” and strategies to address it must be studied. She views the “need for cultural sensitivity” as the first of many steps necessary “to address gaps in health care.”

Being able to help patients advocate for themselves and witnessing the emotional impact on their sense of well-being is extremely satisfying.

Ana Aluisy, MA, LMFT Graduate Research Assistant, College of Behavioral and Community Sciences, University of South Florida

Helping Patients Advocate for Themselves

As a doctoral student, Aluisy is also involved in a PCORI-funded clinical trial examining the role of peer support to reduce racial disparities in hospital readmissions. As a member of the research team, Aluisy is responsible for training care transition coaches and peer mentors to help support older, vulnerable patients directly before and after they are discharged from the hospital. During study enrollment, Aluisy has been drawing on her own background as a psychotherapist. She encourages study coaches and mentors to engage in “person-centered communication” that acknowledges each patient’s unique circumstances. She also stresses the importance of giving study participants emotional space to process their health challenges so they can ask difficult questions and “make better choices on their own.”

Aluisy says that “being able to help patients advocate for themselves and witnessing the emotional impact on their sense of well-being is extremely satisfying.” She explains that unfortunately, many “patients don’t know they can advocate for themselves.” Even if they do know, she notes, “they may not know how they can do it.” She hopes that embedding coaches and peer mentors within the study team empowers patients to seek out vital resources to improve their health. She adds that “helping patients to become their own advocates is something I truly love.”

Hear more from Aluisy during the Achieving Health Equity: How Can Comparative Clinical Effectiveness Research Help Address Structural Discrimination? breakout session. View the full annual meeting agenda and register now!

About the 2022 PCORI Annual Meeting Blog Series

In the weeks leading up to the Annual Meeting on October 26 and 27, we are featuring a different breakout session panelist, their patient-centered work, and their participation in sessions on COVID-19, health equity, intellectual and developmental disabilities, maternal health, social determinants of health, and telehealth.

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