Laurel A. Copeland, PhD

Center for Applied Health Research (CAHR)

Image of Laurel A. Copeland, PhD

2102 Birdcreek Drive
Temple, TX 76502
Phone: 254-215-9880
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  • Associate Director, Center for Applied Health Research, Internal Medicine
  • Co-Director, Health Outcomes Core, Center for Applied Health Research
  • Investigator, Research Service, Central Texas Veterans Health Care System
  • Member, Institutional Review Board, Central Texas Veterans Health Care System,
  • Chair, Subcommittee for Information & Data Security, Central Texas Veterans Health Care System
  • Associate Professor, Tenure-In-Title Only, Texas A&M Health Science Center

Research Interests

The substantive focus of my research is health care for patients with severe mental illness. I have successfully completed a career development award from the Veterans Health Administration (VA) to study patterns of late-life healthcare use by veterans with schizophrenia, diabetes, or both conditions. I also received VA funding for a longitudinal study of these patients.

Because retaining patients with schizophrenia in treatment is challenging, we are interested in how different mixes of primary and psychiatric care are related to outcomes for these patients, especially as age-related comorbid conditions develop.

A second population of interest to me is new veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, many of whom have experienced trauma and are at risk for severe mental illness. My short-term grant to study this population was funded by the VA and was a successful interdepartmental collaboration with researchers at the Department of Defense‘s Brooke Army Medical Center. Recent projects focus on surgery outcomes of patients with severe mental illness (VA grant funded April 1 2010), and on long-term outcomes of deployed personnel undergoing orthopedic trauma surgery.

Other projects comprise collaborations with my colleagues: obesity in VA patients, epilepsy and mental illness, protective effects of statins for patients with community-acquired pneumonia or sepsis, and inappropriate prescribing in the elderly. As a methodologist expert in VA’s extensive electronic medical records data extracts and their analysis, my range of research topics is broad.

I am currently the Associate Director of the new Center for Applied Health Research (CAHR), at Scott & White Healthcare in collaboration with the Central Texas Veterans Health Care System, as well as co-Director of the Health Outcomes Core at CAHR.  CAHR seeks to generate and disseminate new knowledge that improves health care and health outcomes. I am mentoring pre- and post-docs from the Department of Defense – Fort Hood, and from the Department of Veterans Affairs – one in South Texas Veterans Health Care System (San Antonio), one in the Center of Excellence for Research on Returning War Veterans (Waco) and one in the Central Texas Veterans Health Care System (Temple), as well as consulting with junior investigators at Scott & White.

I am pleased to have contacts around the country who consult with me on issues regarding health services research methodology, especially with regards to VA data.


Medical Records Systems Data Extracts - The Department of Veterans Affairs uses an all-electronic medical record, many parts of which are rolled up to a national data repository accessible to VA researchers. The hundreds of files and file types may be subset, the extracts downloaded, and the data aggregated to the desired analytic level (e.g., patient level per year). I have 15 years of experience with these data and their analysis to answer health services research questions.

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