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Priorities for Strategy 4.2

Updated: January 2019

Establish research-practice partnerships to improve dissemination, implementation, and continuous improvement of evidence-based mental health services

NIMH recognizes that research to develop and test strategies to improve the dissemination, adoption, implementation, and sustainability of evidence-based interventions can radically alter the quality and outcomes of care provided for all populations across the developmental lifespan. Scientific approaches addressing these priorities can contribute to reducing the gap between research and practice. Such research can also identify mediators of disparities, leading to solutions that ensure equitable delivery of quality services for all, including underserved populations. As part of any learning healthcare system, active partnership between services researchers and key stakeholders, including consumers, family members, care providers, program and systems administrators, and public and commercial insurers are crucial to developing salient research questions and testing adoptable, scalable, evidence-based interventions and services. NIMH encourages applications that will advance dissemination and implementation of effective practices and catalyze new approaches to narrow the gap between best practices and standard care.

Research Priorities

  1. In partnership with key stakeholders, develop and validate strategies for implementing, sustaining, and continuously improving evidence-based practices.

    Priority areas include:

    1. Conducting dissemination and implementation studies that reflect active partnerships between mental health services researchers and key stakeholders across all phases of the research process.
    2. Conducting quality improvement studies that implement, rigorously monitor, and continuously improve services designed to increase access to care, quality of care, and mental health outcomes for all, including underserved populations, as part of a learning healthcare system.
    3. Investigating how workforce shortages or turnover affect implementation of new treatment approaches and diffusion of new technologies.

  2. Build models to scale-up effective interventions for use in public and private primary care, specialty care, and other systems.

    Priority areas include:

    1. Examining and monitoring patient-, caregiver-, provider-, and organizational-level factors that affect the transportability of interventions (i.e., the degree to which the evidence-informed intervention can be implemented with fidelity).
    2. Adapting interventions and services that were developed and tested in mental health specialty settings to determine fit for use in non-specialty community/practice settings (e.g., primary care, schools, child and adult welfare, criminal and juvenile justice settings, long-term care facilities, geriatric service programs), where significant unmet need exists. This can include adapting and testing strategies initially developed for non-specialty settings, and determining relevance and fit for specialty care.

  3. Develop decision support tools that increase the effectiveness and continuous improvement of mental health interventions in public and private primary care, specialty care, and other systems.

    Priority areas include:

    1. Developing valid and reliable methods to measure and monitor the engagement of intervention targets in services interventions.
    2. Examining and adapting the attributes of evidence-based interventions (e.g., intensity, duration, frequency) that affect their generalizability to practice settings.
    3. Developing and testing decision-support algorithms for improving the matching of patients’ symptomatic and functional deficits with available service systems within a defined catchment area.