PRN Research Program
As a leader in the field of professional health monitoring, the Professionals Resource Network, Inc. (PRN) works closely with the Florida Department of Health to advance and disseminate knowledge and expertise on this important topic. Since 2010, PRN has received state funding to support a research program evaluating the prevention, treatment, monitoring, and recovery of professionals with potentially-impairing conditions. This has allowed the PRN Research team to conduct studies assessing the efficacy and effectiveness of our professional monitoring practices, to evaluate interventions designed to improve the PRN participant experience, to identify risk factors associated with the development of potentially-impairing conditions, and to better understand the population we serve. The research team works closely with the program staff in order to develop study questions and to promote quality improvement in the monitoring process itself. In addition, the PRN research team collaborates with other physician health programs, as well as the Federation of State Physician Health Programs, to conduct research promoting evidence-based practice and to expand the generalizability of findings.
Study results from the PRN Research Program have been presented at national and international conferences focused on physician health, psychiatry, substance use disorders, and medical education and training. In addition, numerous publications by the PRN research team are cited by physician health programs throughout North America as evidence of the importance of these programs in promoting public safety and professional well-being.
Director of Research
Lisa J. Merlo, Ph.D., M.P.E. has served as the Director of Research for PRN since 2010. Dr. Merlo is a licensed clinical psychologist and associate professor of psychiatry at the University of Florida. She earned her B.A. from Transylvania University (summa cum laude), then completed her M.A. and Ph.D. in clinical psychology at Wayne State University. Dr. Merlo completed postdoctoral training in clinical child psychology at the University of Florida, then earned a second master’s degree in psychiatric epidemiology from Washington University in St. Louis, while completing a NIDA-funded postdoctoral fellowship in drug abuse epidemiology and prevention. Dr. Merlo also serves as the Director of Wellness Programs for the University of Florida College of Medicine and was appointed Co-Chair of the Research Committee for the Federation of State Physician Health Programs in 2018.
Relevant Publications by PRN Research Team:
- Williams, M.K., Greene, W.M., Leitner, S. & Merlo, L.J. (2020). Medical student spirituality and substance use. Journal of Addiction Medicine. [Epub ahead of print]. doi: 10.1097/ADM.0000000000000686
- Polles, A.G., Williams, M.K., Phalin, B.R., Teitelbaum, S., & Merlo, L.J. (2020). Neuropsychological impairment associated with substance use by physicians. Journal of the Neurological Sciences, 411, 116714. [Epub ahead of print]. doi: 10.1016/j.jns.2020.116714
- Merlo, L.J., (2019). Beyond burnout prevention: Creating a culture of wellness. House Calls (magazine of the Alachua County Medical Society).
- Hill, M.R., Goicochea, S. & Merlo, L.J. (2018). In their own words: Stressors facing medical students in the millennial generation. Medical Education Online. https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/10872981.2018.1530558
- DuPont, R.L. & Merlo, L.J. (2018). Physician Health Programs: A Model for Treating Substance Use Disorders. The Judges Journal. https://www.americanbar.org/groups/judicial/publications/judges_journal/2018/winter/physician-health-programs-model-treating-substance-use-disorders/
- Merlo, L.J., Watson, R.L., Curran, J.S. (2017). Gender differences in substance use and psychiatric distress among medical students: A comprehensive statewide evaluation. Substance Abuse, 38, 401-406. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28832279/
- Merlo, L.J., (2016). Healing physicians. Journal of the American Medical Association, 316 (23), 2489-90.
- Merlo, L.J., Campbell, M.D., Skipper, G.E., Shea, C.L., & DuPont, R.L. (2016). Outcomes for physicians with opioid dependence treated without agonist pharmacotherapy in physician health programs. Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment, 64, 47-54. PMID: 26971079
- Merlo, L.J., Teitelbaum, S.A., & Thompson, K. (2016). Substance use disorders in physicians: Assessment and treatment. In R. Hermann (Ed.), UptoDate, Waltham, MA. (Accessed on 07/06/16)
- Merlo, L.J., Teitelbaum, S.A., & Thompson, K. (2016). Substance use disorders in physicians: Epidemiology, clinical manifestations, identification, and engagement. In R. Hermann (Ed.), UptoDate, Waltham, MA. (Accessed on 07/06/16)
- Merlo, L.J. (2014). Drug testing of healthcare professionals to improve overall wellness and patient care. Invited commentary on “Alcohol and drug testing of health professionals following preventable adverse events: a bad idea. American Journal of Bioethics. 2014.” American Journal of Bioethics, 14,38-41. PMID: 25369414
- Merlo, L.J., Sutton, J.A., Conwell, T., & Brown, M.E. (2014). Psychiatric conditions affecting physicians with disruptive behavior. Psychiatric Times, 31, 56-58. https://www.psychiatrictimes.com/view/psychiatric-conditions-affecting-physicians-disruptive-behavior
- Thompson, K., Teitelbaum, S.A. & Merlo, L.J. (2014). Addiction in the impaired physician: Assessment and treatment. In T.W. Post (Ed.), UptoDate, Waltham, MA. (Accessed on 12/5/14).
- Thompson, K., Teitelbaum, S.A. & Merlo, L.J. (2014). Addiction in the impaired physician: Epidemiology, clinical manifestations, identification, and engagement. In T.W. Post (Ed.), UptoDate, Waltham, MA. (Accessed on 11/1/14).
- Merlo, L.J., Cummings, S.M., Cottler, L.B. (2014). Prescription drug diversion among substance-impaired pharmacists. American Journal on Addictions, 23, 123-8. PMID: 25187048 https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25187048/
- Merlo, L.J., Singhakant, S., Cummings, S.M., & Cottler, L.B. (2013). Reasons for misuse of prescription medication among physicians undergoing monitoring by a physician health program. Journal of Addiction Medicine, 7, 349-53. PMID: 24089039
- Merlo, L.J., Trejo-Lopez, J., Conwell, L., & Rivenbark, J. (2013). Patterns of substance use initiation among healthcare professionals in recovery. American Journal on Addictions, 22, 605-12. PMID: 24131169 https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24131169/
- Cottler, L.B., Ajinkya, S., Merlo, L.J., Nixon, S.J., Ben Abdallah, A., & Gold, M.S. (2013). Lifetime psychiatric and substance use disorders among impaired physicians in a physician health program: Comparison to the general population. Journal of Addiction Medicine, 7, 108-112. PMID: 23412081
- Merlo, L.J., Cummings, S.M., Cottler, L.B. (2012). Recovering substance-impaired pharmacists’ views regarding occupational risks for substance use disorders. Journal of the American Pharmacists Association, 52, 480-91. PMID: 22825228
- Merlo, L.J., Greene, W.M., & Pomm, R. (2011) Mandatory naltrexone treatment prevents relapse among opiate-dependent anesthesiologists returning to practice. Journal of Addiction Medicine, 5, 279-83. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22107877/
- Cummings, S.M., Merlo, L.J., & Cottler, L.B. (2011). Mechanisms of prescription drug diversion among physicians with substance use disorders. Journal of Addictive Diseases, 30, 195-202. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/21745042/
- Merlo, L.J. (2011). Leading the search for answers and solutions. Florida Medical Magazine.
- Merlo, L.J. (2011). Response to “Life in a Fix: Confessions of an Addicted Physician” [Letter to the Editor]. Anesthesiology News, 37(4).
- Merlo, L.J. & Greene, W.M. (2010). Physician views regarding substance use-related participation in a state physician health program. American Journal on Addictions, 19, 529-33. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/20958849/
- Merlo, L.J., Altenburger, K.M., & Gold, M.S. (2010). Physicians’ experiences with impaired colleagues [Letter to the Editor]. Journal of the American Medical Association, 304, 1895. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/21045092/
- DuPont, R.L., McLellan, A.T., White, W., Merlo, L.J., & Gold, M.S. (2009). Setting the standard for recovery: Physicians’ Health Programs. Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment, 36, 159-171. doi: 10.1016/j.jsat.2008.01.004.