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Kim Smolderen, PhD, psychologist and outcomes researcher

March 04, 2020
by Elisabeth Reitman

In February the Interventional Cardiology team welcomed outcomes researcher, Kim Smolderen, PhD. A medical psychologist by training, Smolderen joined the faculty on February 1 as the co-founder of the Vascular Medicine Outcomes program, or VAMOs, with Carlos Mena, MD, a long-term research collaborator. VAMOS is among the few dedicated research programs in the U.S. focused on improving patient outcomes for peripheral vascular disease in particular.

The VAMOS program serves communities by improving vascular health outcomes. “Partnerships with various stakeholders, a multi-disciplinary and patient-centered approach are key components of the VAMOS program. We are building a community of patients, clinicians, scholars, trainees, and many others dedicated to the empowerment of patients, understanding quality of care, and leading innovations in vascular care,” said Smolderen.

For her PhD training, Smolderen studied the impact of psycho-social factors on patients with peripheral vascular disease at Tilburg University in the Netherlands and moved to the U.S. for a prestigious two-year cardiovascular outcomes fellowship at Saint Luke's Mid-America Heart Institute supported by the American Heart Association.

Thereafter, Smolderen was the principal investigator of a multi-center, international registry focused on quantifying quality of life outcomes in patients with claudication, a symptom of peripheral artery disease, caused by the narrowing of the arteries. The research was supported in the U.S. by the Patient Centered Outcomes Research Institute and in the Netherlands by the Dutch Scientific Council.

Amongst other findings, the PORTRAIT study demonstrated that only 1 in 5 patients enrolled in a peripheral artery disease (PAD) specialty clinic for received all eligible evidence-based treatments for PAD such as antiplatelet therapy, statin prescription, smoking cessation support, and referral to a supervised exercise therapy program (SET). Moreover, the researchers learned that while individual medication prescriptions were high, rates for smoking cessation support and referral to SET were low. With support from the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute, Smolderen has now launched a campaign to improve vascular health in the greater Kansas City area and is disseminating the work of the group through community engagement work.

More recently, with her group, Smolderen also highlighted the great mental health burden that patients with peripheral artery disease are experiencing in a new study published in the Journal of Psychosomatic Research.

Smolderen joins the Yale community with her family. She enjoys running, yoga, and is training to be a health and wellness coach.

Follow her on Twitter @KimGSmolderen.

Submitted by Elisabeth Reitman on March 03, 2020