Dr. Kratz’s research focuses on the characteristics and underlying mechanisms of common chronic symptoms and in behavioral and combination treatments to manage symptoms and improve functional outcomes. She is interested in these questions across clinical populations and across clinical conditions.

What drew you to MiCHAMP?

The first thing that drew me to MiCHAMP was the diversity and brilliance of its members. UM prides itself on cultivating interdisciplinary collaborations; even within this cooperative environment, MiCHAMP is a unique example of how clinicians, data scientists, engineers, and social scientists can come together to work on some of the most consequential problems in health and healthcare. If the impressiveness of MiCHAMP is what initially drew me in, it was the magnanimity of the group that made me want to stick around.  One of the things I enjoy most about research is the relationships I have with my collaborators. Like other top universities, UM is full of brilliant people whom I could work with, but finding a group that is fun, energetic, open-minded and egalitarian is quite rare. These group values are reflected in the fact that MiCHAMP is diverse in terms of involving everyone from undergraduate students to senior professors.  There is a genuine sense that everyone is welcome to bring something to the table, regardless of their status at the university.

What specific expertise do you bring to MiCHAMP?

I am a clinical psychologist with expertise in the behavioral management of chronic symptoms such as pain, fatigue, and cognitive problems. As a social scientist, I bring an emphasis on the association of social, psychological, and societal factors with physiology and health. I also bring a focus on long-term health-related quality of life and functional outcomes in the populations we study. My research often involves collecting data from people as they go about their daily lives – passively with the use of wearable technology, and/or actively, through collection of real-time self-reports and cognitive tests. I have particular interest in the experience of the participants in studies that use ambulatory assessment and have developed skills and knowledge about what makes an intensive data collection protocol feasible and successful. Development, evaluation, selection, and interpretation of patient reported outcomes are other areas of expertise.

What are your research interests and how do they tie into MiCHAMP?

Broadly speaking, I am interested in the characteristics and underlying mechanisms of common chronic symptoms (e.g., pain, fatigue) and in behavioral and combination treatments to manage symptoms and improve functional outcomes. I am interested in these questions across clinical populations, and in some cases am particularly interested in making comparisons across clinical conditions. My research is based on the foundational assumptions that every person’s experience is unique and that many people experience great variability in their quality of life and functional status across time. These changes can be observed even on a small scale, such as within a day.  These assumptions drive my use of ambulatory assessment of variables of interest, such as physiology, self-reported outcomes, and cognitive functioning. Typically, my research does not include large numbers of participants, but does involve “big data” in terms of the amount of data collected over time. This type of “small n, big k” research presents many of the same challenges and benefits of the big data research being conducted by other MiCHAMP members and it’s very nice to have them as a resource.  I am also somewhat new to collection and analysis of physiological data, such as heart rate variability and galvanic skin response, and am grateful to be able to lean on the group’s expertise in the areas of signal processing and data analysis. My research and perspective tie nicely into the interests of my fellow MiCHAMPers in precision medicine and long-term health-related quality of life outcomes for patients.