Jocelyn R. Lebow, Ph.D., L.P.

  • Senior Associate Consultant, Division of Integrated Behavioral Health
  • Assistant Professor of Psychology, Mayo Clinic College of Medicine and Science

What moment or experience in your life influenced your decision to be a clinician?

I've always been incredibly curious and interested (some might say nosy) about people. I feel so lucky that as a clinical psychologist, I have the privilege of being entrusted by patients to hear parts of their personal stories.

I love that in an average day, I can work one-on-one with patients and their families, collaborate with colleagues across disciplines, and also continue to think about ways to improve the way care is delivered on a systems level.

What motivated you to become a Kern Health Care Delivery Scholar?

One of the biggest frustrations in my clinical work has been the major shortage of providers of evidence-based behavioral interventions, particularly for children and adolescents with eating disorders. It's far too hard for families of sick children to access good treatment. There's a need for a paradigm shift in how we address eating disorders, and possibly other childhood mental health concerns as well.

The Kern Health Care Delivery Scholar Program alumni and faculty are at the forefront of health care delivery innovation. The opportunities and resources offered through the Kern Health Care Delivery Scholars Program — the mentoring, coursework and training — are truly unparalleled and will equip me to pursue my goals of improving access to good care for eating disorders in children and adolescents.

What is your focus as a scholar within the Mayo Clinic Kern Center for the Science of Health Care Delivery?

Although effective evidence-based treatment exists for adolescents with eating disorders, providers are scarce. This means that finding legitimate, high-quality care takes a long time, leaving families stranded while their children's symptoms potentially worsen. Primary care providers are highly motivated to provide effective care for these patients, but lack the training or support to effectively implement evidence-based behavioral interventions.

My focus as a Kern Health Care Delivery Scholar is on developing an intervention for childhood eating issues that can be delivered in primary care. Hopefully, this will allow for larger numbers of patients to be treated earlier, resulting in better outcomes and less burden on patients, their families and health care systems.

Tell us about your mentoring team.

I have been fortunate to establish a strong team of mentors to support my work as a Kern Scholar. My primary mentor, Leslie A. Sim, Ph.D., L.P., is a clinical psychologist and an internationally recognized researcher with substantial clinical experience in the field of pediatric eating disorders.

My mentors include Matthew M. Clark, Ph.D., L.P., another psychologist with considerable background in eating disorder research and a strong background in designing and running intervention studies. I am privileged to also have Robert M. Jacobson, M.D., and Sean Phelan, Ph.D., as secondary mentors, given their expertise in health services research content, delivery and methodology.

How will your research improve patient care or impact public health?

We know that the longer patients wait to get help for eating disorders, the worse their prognosis. A primary care-based intervention may allow more patients to get care more quickly, leading to better overall results.

As childhood eating disorders are related to substantial long-term physical and psychological consequences, and are associated with exceptionally high health care utilization, it is my hope that my research will have a substantial impact on health care burden and patient outcomes.

Why did you choose Mayo Clinic to pursue your career?

Mayo Clinic's emphasis on multidisciplinary collaboration — both in research and clinical work — is truly unique. I think this is a major reason why patients who come here receive such good care and why staff are constantly able to innovate in their research and clinical work.

In addition, I truly feel that Mayo values intellectual vitality and curiosity in its staff, and as a result, is willing to support novel ideas that may appear cumbersome in the short term, but have the potential for shifting how we think of health care in the long run.