Cathy Leslie, PhD, OTR/L, CEIS
What year did you start the program? 2016-2020
What are your prior degrees and at which institutions?
BA in Interdisciplinary Studies and Master of Occupational Therapy, both at Bay Path University in Longmeadow, MA
What was your research setting(s), mentor’s name and name of lab?
My research mentor is Diane Smith, PhD, OTR/L, FAOTA, Professor in the Department of Occupational Therapy at the MGH Institute.
What was your research focused on?
My background as an OT is in early intervention (EI), which is a home care pediatric setting for newborn babies until they turn 3 years old. EI is based on a coaching model, which emphasizes educating and empowering families to care for their child with a disability. My research is focused on health literacy, which is a person’s ability to access health care, understand medical information, and successfully manage their care. Specifically, I am interested in understanding the impact of the health literacy levels of both EI practitioners and caregivers on the health outcomes of the children receiving rehabilitation services in EI.
What publications or external presentations have you produced based on the research you have done while in the program?
Leslie, C., Smith, D., & Nicholas, P. (2019). Health Literacy Understanding of Early Intervention Providers: A Scoping Review. The Journal for Nurse Practitioners, 15(9), 640–648. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.nurpra.2019.06.006.
Leslie, C., Hawkins, M. & Smith, D. (2020) Using the Health Literacy Questionnaire (HLQ) with Providers in the Early Intervention Setting: A Qualitative Validity Testing Study. The International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 17 (2603). doi:10.3390/ijerph17072603
In special issue “Health literacy and equity- Interdisciplinary perspectives and recent trends in health literacy research and action around the world.”
Leslie, C., Donelan, K., Nicholas, P., Buglione, M.,& Smith, D. Health Literacy Profiles of Early Intervention Providers: A Study Using the Health Literacy Questionnaire. HLRP: Health Literacy Research and Practice. Manuscript submitted April 2020. Under Review.
Leslie, C. & Crehan, J. Impact of health literacy on early intervention access & utilization: A scoping review. Poster: American Occupational Therapy Association Annual Conference, 2020, Boston, MA. Accepted - not presented due to conference cancellation related to COVID-19.
Leslie, C. & Delosh, T.* Measuring accessibility of materials provided to families for accessing, utilizing & transitioning out of early intervention. Poster: American Occupational Therapy Association Annual Conference, 2020, Boston, MA. Accepted - not presented due to conference cancellation related to COVID-19.
Tarbet, A., Leslie, C. & Bell, J. A wild ride from start to finish: Mapping the graduate research experience. Presented at: Designing for Digital, 2020, Austin, Texas.
Leslie, C., Crehan, J., Delosh, T. & Stein, J. Tell it straight: Using plain language to improve family outcomes in EI. Short course presented at: Massachusetts Early Intervention Consortium Annual Conference, 2019, Marlborough, MA.
Leslie, C., Smith, D. & Nicholas, P. The health literacy skill level of practitioners working with families and children in early intervention: A systematic review. Poster presented at: American Occupational Therapy Association Annual Conference, 2018, Salt Lake City, Utah.
Leslie, C., Smith, D. & Nicholas, P. The health literacy skill level of practitioners working with families and children in early intervention: A systematic review. Poster presented at: MGH IHP Faculty Convocation, 2018, Charlestown, MA.
Leslie, C. Health literacy: Using the AHRQ Universal Precautions Toolkit to improve outcomes in early intervention. Short-course presented at Massachusetts Association of Occupational Therapy: Special Interest Group meeting, 2018, New Bedford, MA.
Leslie, C. EI Families’ Reflections on their Experiences of the MA EI Mission Statement and Key Principles During EI Home Visits. Webinar: Presented to Massachusetts Department of Public Health Early Intervention Directors, 2019, Boston, MA.
Leslie, C. Title: Are the MA EI Mission Statement and Key Principles Reflected in Early Intervention Home Visits: Qualitative Findings from 34 EI Families.
Shishmanian grant project results and implications of findings as early intervention lead agency. Presented to: Massachusetts Department of Public Health Early Intervention Team, 2019, Boston, MA.
What do you think is special about the PhD in Rehabilitation Sciences program at the MGH Institute?
When I was working in early intervention, I worked on interprofessional teams with PTs, SLPs, social workers, nurses, and teachers, and I really believe in that model of care. The PhD in RS program at IHP completely embraces this way of learning and researching with rehabilitation professionals from all disciplines. It is effective and reflects current trends in health care. Being in class with students and professors from other disciplines has really expanded my thinking about research collaborations to improve rehabilitation outcomes for patients.
Why did you choose to come to this program rather than a doctoral research program in your specific profession?
Occupational therapy offers an OTD, which is focused on clinical skill building and expertise. I really wanted to switch my viewpoint to research and outcomes improvement related to the system of early intervention care. To do that and be effective, I felt strongly that I needed a PhD rather than an OTD.
What are your plans & goals now that you possess a PhD in Rehabilitation Sciences?
I have recently accepted a faculty position with time for both teaching and research. My future goals include investigating grant funding and developing my pediatric research program at the MGH IHP. My focus is on infants and toddlers with developmental delay and disabilities, as well as improving access to and quality of early intervention services in Massachusetts to maximize pediatric rehabilitation outcomes in EI.
What is your current title(s) & organization(s)?
My current title is Assistant Professor in the occupational therapy program at the MGH Institute of Health Professions.