Web Tool to Disseminate Empirically-based Interventions to Schools

Period of Performance: 09/01/2008 - 08/31/2009


Phase 1 SBIR

Recipient Firm

3-C Institute for Social Development
DURHAM, NC 27713
Principal Investigator


DESCRIPTION (provided by applicant): Schools are the primary mental health (MH) service setting for youth. The effectiveness of school-based MH programs has been repeatedly demonstrated for a wide array of child behavioral and emotional disorders, including ADHD, suicidality, mood disorders, and conduct disorders. Unfortunately, however, the worlds of youth MH care and youth MH research show remarkably little overlap. Despite availability of empirically-based MH interventions for the school setting, as well as the recent accountability movement in education and federal financial incentives for use of programs supported by empirical evidence, empirically-based interventions (EBIs) are rarely used in everyday practice by schools. In addition, school-based interventions that have proven effective under strict research conditions often fail to achieve their intended outcomes when delivered in the "real world." A growing body of literature indicates the quality of implementation is directly related to the likelihood that an EBI will be adopted and sustained within the school setting as well as the strength of its treatment effects. The goal of the proposed SBIR project is to develop and test a web-based dissemination tool (WDT) that supports quality implementation of school-based EBIs for youth MH. The proposed web-based dissemination tool (WDT) will build on recommendations from the research literature to create a suite of tools and services that can be applied in support of disseminating school-based EBIs on a broad scale. Currently, no comparable product exists. The proposed WDT will leverage 3-C ISD's technological expertise and experience to create a flexible, scalable web tool that will decrease costs (time, financial, personnel) to both schools and intervention developers, enhance the integrity with which EBIs are implemented in the school setting, and increase dissemination of EBIs into "real world" everyday practice. Three specific aims will be accomplished through Phase I of this project: (1) the prototype of the web-based dissemination tool (WDT) will be created; (2) the prototype will be evaluated through stakeholder groups to test the feasibility, usability, and value of the proposed WDT; and (3) a full implementation plan for Phase II will be generated based on Phase I findings and recommendations. PUBLIC HEALTH RELEVANCE As the mental health research-practice gap has become increasingly evident, numerous federal reports have called for action to better connect research findings to clinical practice [e.g., The President's New Freedom Commission Report (2003); Reports of the Surgeon General on MentalHealth (U.S. Public Health Service, 1999), Youth Violence (USPHS, 2001a), and Culture, Race, and Ethnicity (USPHS, 2001b); and the National Children's Call to Action (USPHS, 2000)]. Building on the recommendations of clinical and research community members during the "Enhancing the Discipline of Clinical and Translational Sciences" meeting (May, 2005), the National Institutes of Health (NIH) identified research efforts to bridge science and practice as a primary objective of NIH's Roadmap. This research directly addresses NIH's Roadmap priorities as well as these federal calls for action. Each year, about 6% of America's children and adolescents receive some form of MH care, at an annual cost of more than $11 billion. And each year, NIMH and other foundations fund more than $300 million for youth MH research, much of it devoted to treatment studies. The findings from this research will advance our understanding of how to successfully integrate EBIs into everyday practice within the primary MH service setting for youth, i.e., schools. Increasing the likelihood that EBIs will be adopted, used as intended, and sustained in everyday practice in schools, in turn, increases the likelihood that youth will benefit from evidence-based practices.