Intensive Workshops on Methodology

Sunday, March 4, 2007

The Developing Role of Family Members as Research Partners: An Introduction to the Research Process and the Role of Grant Reviewer

Julie Becker, Ph.D., Harmonium, Inc. San Diego ,CA; Shari Krishnan, Bloomington Hills, MI; Katherine Lazear, M.A. and Al Duchnowski, Ph. D., Research and Training Center for Children’s Mental Health, Department of Child and Family Studies, Louis de la Parte Florida Mental Health Institute, University of South Florida.

This interactive workshop addressd key aspects of the services research process central to family members as they adopt roles as evaluators, research partners and grant review team members. Agency personnel and researchers, as well as family members, will learn strategies to maximize effective collaboration. While there have been excellent training programs developed by the Federation of Families for Children’s Mental Health and others to increase family members expertise in evaluation of services, there are few opportunities available for families to learn more about the research process.

A purpose of this intensive workshop was to present an introduction to the services research process for family members. Topics included a discussion of frequently used terms in research, the different types of research designs that are used in this field, and a discussion of the valuable perspectives that family members can bring to the process. The role of individual family members as well as examples of family organizations as research partners were presented.

Another important topic covered in this workshop was a discussion of the role of family members as reviewers of grant proposals, especially for federal programs. Topics included the components of typical grant applications, the criteria for scoring these components, and the expectations of family members as members of the review team. 

In addition, this workshop presented strategies for researchers and agency staff to increase the effectiveness of family partnerships in research projects and grant reviews. The workshop will conclude with an interactive discussion with the audience.

Studying Complex Systems: Epistemological Car Talk

Michael Agar, Ph.D., Professor Emeritus, University of Maryland, and Researcher, Ethknoworks, Sante Fe, NM; Steve Banks, Ph.D., Louis de la Parte Florida Mental Health Institute, University of South Florida, Tampa, FL and Department of Psychiatry, University of Massachusetts Medical School, Worcester, MA

This workshop examined a variety of frameworks (e.g. qualitative, quantitative and mixed methods) for studying complex systems.  The workshop utilized an “Epistemological Car Talk” format, where real-world examples from “Click and Clack” (Drs Agar and Banks) were introduced and discussed with an emphasis on making the techniques relevant for studying systems of care for children. This workshop was built on conversations among participants who have questions about their research “vehicles” and the hosts, both experienced research “mechanics” who have advised on dozens of projects over the years.

Building on Community Strengths through Asset Mapping

Beverly Ward, Dept. of Child & Family Studies, Louis de la Parte Florida Mental Health Institute, University of South Florida

Handouts Set 1 [916kb pdf] Set 2 [36kb pdf]

Asset mapping catalogues both the demographic features of a community and its human and organizational resources.  Cultural and historical resources, formal and informal services and supports, and infrastructure features such as transportation and housing are documented. Inventories of data analyzed are used to create maps of communities that can guide asset-based planning for systems improvement.  This workshop illustrated how an asset map can be constructed to support efforts to implement effective systems of care in targeted communities.

Wednesday, March 7, 2007

Using Evaluation to Implement Wraparound and Sustain Fidelity:
Lesson Learned and Issues for Implementation

Janet S. Walker, Ph.D., Research and Training Center on Family Support and Children's Mental Health, Portland State University; Eric J. Bruns, Ph.D., University of Washington School of Medicine, Division of Public Behavioral Health and Justice Policy, Seattle, WA; Jim Rast, Ph.D., Research Director, Vroon VanDenBerg, LLP, & University of Colorado at Denver Health Services Center, Parker, CO; April Sather, MPH, University of Washington School of Medicine, Division of Public Behavioral Health and Justice Policy, Seattle, WA; Gwen White, Alleghany County Behavioral Health Services, Pittsburgh, PA; and Jacquelyn Shipp, Oklahoma Department of Mental Health, Oklahoma City, OK

The wraparound service process has been at the leading edge of developing systems of care for children with complex needs and their families. Although excellent results have been achieved for some programs, in many other communities the results have been less positive. Research is beginning to show that the fidelity of the process is associated with outcomes for children and families; however, maintaining fidelity to a practice model requires multiple types of quality assurance and evaluation efforts.

This workshop addressed ways that agencies, communities and external evaluators can work together to measure the fidelity of the wraparound process and use this information to improve the quality of the process. The workshop began with a short overview of the use of fidelity instruments in wraparound, including measurement of adherence to the principles of wraparound and completion of specific activities of the process, and assessment of system supports necessary for high-quality implementation. Next, presenters showed how the phases and activities of wraparound, as specified by the National Wraparound Initiative ( have been used to define skill sets for providers and how these skill sets have been used in training and coaching activities for wraparound facilitators and parent support providers. Finally, three specific tools for measuring wraparound fidelity from the Wraparound Fidelity Assessment System (The Wraparound Fidelity Index, 4.0, the Team Observation Measure, and the Documentation of the Wraparound Process) were described. With each instrument, user requirements, training methods, and sample reports presented, along with examples of their use in local communities. Workshop attendees participated in exercises in using the instruments, and provided with sample materials to take to their home communities to assess their current level of wraparound implementation in each of the key areas.

Organizational and Research-based Strategies for Increasing Access and Utilization of Mental Health Services for Diverse Populations

Mario Hernandez, Ph.D., Teresa Nesman, Ph.D., Linda Callejas, Ph.D., & Laurel Friedman, Research and Training Center for Children’s Mental Health Department of Child & Family Studies, Louis de la Parte Florida Mental Health Institute, University of South Florida

Operationalizing and implementing cultural competence is necessary for improving mental health service access by diverse children and families. The research literature suggests that there are strategies that can be implemented within systems and organizations in order to facilitate access and utilization of services. This workshop provided a description of what is meant by a “mental health disparity” and what organizations/systems can do in order to implement strategies for enhancing cultural competence. An implementation-based conceptual model regarding key organizational structures and processes that are important to achieving cultural competence were provided. These structures and processes included components of an organization’s infrastructure, including its direct service activities. Participants explored how the implementation model can be applied within their communities.

Qualitative Measures for Systems of Care Research

Michael Agar, Ph.D., Professor Emeritus, University of Maryland, and Researcher, Ethknoworks, Sante Fe, NM

Qualitative approaches for conducting research in systems of care are becoming more widely used. However, conducting this type of research with fidelity can be challenging and at times perplexing. Narratives, grounded theory studies, ethnographies, and case studies are valuable tools within the qualitative approach. During this intensive workshop, Dr. Michael Agar shared strategies for using these methods. Participants learned to understand how these methods can be applied in conducting research and evaluations within systems of care. Part of the workshop was devoted to addressing real-world uses of qualitative methods.