Schools are a primary setting for the prevention, early identification and treatment of mental health disorders. Multiple psychological interventions for mental health problems in children and youth have established efficacy in research settings. However, empirically-based mental health interventions (EBIs) are rarely used in everyday practice in schools, affecting the quality of services provided to children. In instances in which EBIs are delivered in schools, they often fail to achieve the outcomes that were demonstrated in the research setting. A growing body of literature indicates the quality of EBI implementation is directly related to the likelihood that the EBI will be adopted and sustained within a school-based setting as well as the strength of the EBI treatment effects on youth outcomes. Quality implementation refers to the degree to which an intervention is delivered as intended, i.e., with fidelity to the treatment model. Three key areas have been found to directly impact the quality of EBI implementation: (1) training support for providers (including on-going implementation assistance); (2) structured, user-friendly resource materials; and (3) accountability tools for monitoring, tracking, and reporting fidelity to core intervention features.
To address this area of need, researchers and information technology experts at 3-C ISD are currently creating a web-based dissemination tool, called Centervention, to help schools implement EBIs with greater adherence to the intervention protocol. Centervention builds on 3-C-ISD’s technological expertise and recommendations from the research literature to develop a flexible, scalable online suite of tools that can be used to support pre-intervention training and quality implementation of mental health EBIs for youth in the school setting.
During Phase I of this project, the prototype of Centervention was created with input from the project Advisory Board of experts in the fields of evidence-based intervention and mental health intervention implementation research. The following suite of tools and website features were built for the Phase I Centervention prototype: (1) web-based training courses; (2) on-going implementation assistance tools (e.g., Q&As, Ask-the-Expert Help Desk, discussion board); (3) downloadable resources (e.g., intervention materials, newsletters); and (4) accountability tools (e.g., fidelity and progress reporting forms, real-time monitoring tools). Once theCentervention prototype was complete, Phase I testing was conducted via evaluation by stakeholder groups (e.g., intervention developers, school-based mental health providers, teachers, school administrators) to test the feasibility, usability, and value of the proposed Centervention. Overall, stakeholders viewed the proposedCentervention product very positively. All stakeholders reported Centervention is a highly needed, valuable product offering significant innovation over currently available alternatives. Access to Centervention was seen as saving time and cost and highly effective for increasing adherence to an EBI’s protocol, enhancing EBI outcomes for students, and sustaining EBI use within the school setting over time.
Phase II funding is currently being sought to continue the research and development of Centervention and rigorously evaluate the efficacy of Centervention through a randomized controlled trial.