PITTSBURGH, January 7, 1999 — The National Institute of Mental Health has awarded investigators at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center’s Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic (WPIC) a five-year, $2.75 million research grant to study the effectiveness of treatments for children with behavior disorders.
The study, titled Resources to Enhance the Adjustment of Children (REACH), is one of the first to compare the effectiveness of a combination of treatment services provided outside of traditional clinical settings. David Kolko, Ph.D., associate professor of child psychiatry and psychology, is the principal investigator. Dr. Kolko, along with co-investigators, will evaluate the impact of services provided in the community or an outpatient clinic on children’s functioning and other important family outcomes, and assess the cost-effectiveness of these services. Co-investigators include David Brent, M.D., professor of child psychiatry, pediatrics and epidemiology; Oscar Bukstein, M.D., assistant professor of psychiatry; and Pamela Peele, Ph.D., assistant professor of public health, University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health.
While treatment studies conducted in hospital and community settings have been effective in improving behavioral problems, few research studies have compared the benefits of delivering services in each of these settings or to provide recommendations for policy.
Children’s behavior disorders are common problems and can result in chronic conditions that challenge both the child’s clinician and family. These disorders can be a source of large personal and financial burdens to both families and communities. Children’s behavior problems can progress toward serious delinquent and violent behavior, school dropout, early drug use, placement or heightened involvement in special education, social services, mental health and juvenile justice systems.
"This study and others like it can help guide clinicians and policy makers in decisions about how best to provide children’s mental health services," commented Dr. Kolko. "It is important to understand how changes in the way treatment is delivered affect the success and cost of treatment."
The study will follow 140 children, ages 6 to 11, with a diagnosis of oppositional defiant disorder or conduct disorder, two childhood disorders that frequently result in clinical referrals for treatment. Each family will receive individual assessments and three follow-up evaluations over the course of one year. The effectiveness of the treatments will be examined based on changes in behavior problems, both in the home and in the community. The research team will use special questionnaires to determine how satisfied families were with the services they received. They also will try to determine if there are any special child or family characteristics to help predict which families benefit most from services.
This study is no longer looking for participants. For more information about treatment options at the University of Pittsburgh for children with behavior disorders, call 412-246-5886.