As fields become more specialized, ineffective communication between innovators and practitioners can slow the diffusion of ideas. This paper examines the impact of continuing education in eating disorder treatment, comparing the take-up of (i) tangible innovations (psychopharmacology) and (ii) intangible innovations (psychotherapy) following professional conferences. I use a novel extension of an estimator proposed by Calvi, Lewbel, and Tommasi (2019) in an event study setting to overcome data limitations. I find very small responses among therapists for both kinds of innovations, suggesting that continuing medical education is not an important channel for treatment diffusion. Therapists respond more to education in pharmacology than psychotherapy, being about 3 percentage points more likely to write new prescriptions following a conference. This increase occurs mainly for adolescent patients being treated by nonpsychiatrist prescribers. Response to purely psychotherapeutic innovations is limited to more academic-oriented specialists such as psychologists.
Recommended citation: Hoagland, A. (2020). Who Do Innovations Reach? The Influence of Trainings on Mental Health Treatments. Working Paper.