Date of Conferral





Health Services


Kimberly Dixon-Lawson


About 50% of adults in the United States suffer from at least 1 mental health challenge in their lifetime. Annually, mental health and substance use disorders cost the United States about $800 billion, leaving individuals with unaffordable cost of care and the nation with diminished productivity and revenue. With the Essential Health Benefits and Medicaid expansion under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), healthcare resources were created to address gaps in behavioral healthcare. There is a need to understand how the healthcare law has influenced the availability of behavioral health services and access to needed care. This study explored the lived experiences of 10 behavioral health service recipients to identify the benefits and challenges of the PPACA on behavioral health services. Participants from Anne Arundel County, Maryland, were purposefully selected and interviewed face-to-face. Relative advantage, compatibility, and complexity were characteristics of the diffusion of innovation theory used for the exploration of this research. Based on the interpretive phenomenological approach, Nvivo 11 Pro was used for data coding, management, organization, and analysis. There was the shared belief among participants that the PPACA improved their access to adequate and affordable behavioral healthcare. Effective network of care and having health insurance seemed to have improved health outcomes. Findings from this study highlight issues of common interest to healthcare stakeholders while providing reasonable platforms for objectively addressing complex challenges, which tend to undermine the possibility of adopting policies that could yield positive dividends for all parties involved.