WISSH: Charles Jonassaint, PhD, MHS
Charles Jonassaint is a health psychologist interested in the psychological, social and behavioral factors affecting patients living with sickle cell disease. His research aims to 1) understand the impact of sickle cell related anemia on brain outcomes and psychological disorders and 2) developing Internet and mobile health interventions, specifically tailored for those living with hemoglobinopathies. Currently, Charles is working with both patients and providers to design health IT interventions that will address the mental health needs of adolescents and young adults living with sickle cell disease. The ultimate goal of this research is to develop and implement cost-effective and scalable, behavioral interventions, that patients can access anywhere, via computer or mobile device. Putting health IT tools, such online support groups, e-diaries and computerized cognitive behavioral therapy, in the hands of patients will help address the psychosocial stress, chronic pain and depression that often burdens this population and negatively impacts patient quality of life.
Charles received his PhD in clinical psychology from Duke University where he studied the effects of socioeconomic status, personality and coping on cardiovascular disease risk. Following graduate school, Charles worked as a medical psychology resident at the Duke Sickle Cell Center, where he provided biofeedback, cognitive-behavioral therapy, motivational interviewing, and mindfulness based therapy to patients with sickle cell. He then worked as a postdoctoral researcher with Charmaine Royal, PhD at the Duke Institute for Genome Science and Policy. Working with Dr. Royal, Charles examined the role of psychological coping styles and racial identity on health outcomes in sickle cell. He also helped in the development of a model demonstrating how genetic factors interact with the social and physical environment to affect clinical outcomes in sickle cell disease.
Charles then completed an MHS degree in Epidemiology and a clinical research fellowship at Johns Hopkins University. During his fellowship, Charles’ researched the impact sickle cell disease and anemia may have on brain outcomes and educational achievement, factors that likely influence long-term outcomes such as health care utilization. His work in this area showed that not only are psychological and behavioral factors such as cognitive functioning important but cognitive-behavioral interventions can be applied to the treatment of pain and SCD-related disease outcomes–interventions that are likely best delivered through the Internet and/or mobile technology.
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