Sarah B. Hunter

Photo of Sarah Hunter
Senior Behavioral and Social Scientist; Professor, Pardee RAND Graduate School
Santa Monica Office


Ph.D in social psychology, University of California, Santa Barbara; M.A. in social psychology, University of California, Santa Barbara; B.A. in psychology, New York University


Sarah Hunter is a senior behavioral scientist at the RAND Corporation and a professor at the Pardee RAND Graduate School. Hunter's primary areas of interest are improving substance abuse treatment quality; building community capacity to enhance prevention and treatment program delivery; implementation science; and program evaluation. Since 1998, she has published more than 60 peer-reviewed journal articles, books chapters, and RAND publications on a wide range of fields, including psychophysiology, health care quality, and community psychology. Hunter has served on several grant review panels for the National Institutes of Health and currently serves on the Dissemination and Implementation Research in Health committee. She is on the editorial board for the Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment and serves as a National Institute on Drug Abuse faculty mentor for the Implementation Research Institute. Hunter received her B.A. from New York University and her M.A and Ph.D. in psychology from the University of California at Santa Barbara.

Recent Projects

  • Effectiveness of Technology-Assisted Diffusion of Evidence Based Treatment
  • Building System Capacity Through Continuous Quality Improvement
  • Getting to Outcomes for Home Visiting
  • Enhancing Housing First Programs with a Social Network Substance Use Intervention
  • Hierarchical Modeling of Alcohol Treatment Outcomes of Group Therapy

Selected Publications

Hunter, S.B., Ober, A.J., Paddock, S.M., Hunt, P., & Levan, D., "Continuous quality improvement (CQI) in addiction treatment settings: Design and intervention protocol of a group randomized pilot study," Addiction Science and Clinical Practice (forthcoming)

Hunter, S.B., Griffin, B. A., Booth, M. A., Ramchand, R., & McCaffrey, D., "Assessing the generalizability of the CSAT-sponsored GAIN dataset: Are the CSAT sites representative of adolescent treatment programs in the U.S.?" Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment, 46(2):238-243, 2014

Hunter, S.B., Paddock, S.M., Zhou, A.J., Watkins, K.E., & Hepner, K.A., "Do client attributes moderate the effectiveness of a group cognitive behavioral therapy for depression in addiction treatment?" Journal of Behavioral Health Services and Research, 40(1):57-70, 2013

Hunter, S.B., Ramchand, R., Griffin, B. A., Suttorp, M. J., McCaffrey, D., & Morral, A., "The effectiveness of community-based delivery of an evidence-based treatment for adolescent substance use," Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment, 43:137-151, 2012

Hunter, S.B., Witkiewitz, K., Watkins, K.E., Paddock, S.M., & Hepner, K.A., "The moderating effects of group cognitive behavioral therapy for depression among substance users.," Psychology of Addictive Behaviors, 26(4):906-916, 2012

Hunter, S.B., Watkins, K.E., Hepner, K.A., Paddock, S.M., Munjas, B., Osilla, K.C., Perry, S., "Treating depression and substance use: A randomized controlled trial," Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment, 43:137-151, 2012

Hunter, S.B., Paddock, S.M., Ebener, P., Burkhart, A.K., & Chinman, M., "Promoting evidence-based practices: The adoption of a prevention support system in community settings," Journal of Community Psychology, 37(5):579-593, 2009

Hunter, S.B., Chinman, M. Ebener, P., Imm, P., Wandersman, A., & Ryan, G., "Technical assistance as a prevention capacity-building tool: A demonstration using the Getting To Outcomes framework," Health Education and Behavior, 36(5):810-828, 2009

Honors & Awards

  • Gordon Allport Intergroup Relations Prize, Best Paper 2007, Society for the Psychological Study of Social Issues
  • Outstanding Publication Award, American Evaluation Association


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    Support for Implementing Home Visiting Under the Affordable Care Act

    One groundbreaking provision of the Affordable Care Act is its funding for home visiting programs that match the parents of young children with trained specialists who provide information, social support, parental skill instruction, and more.

    Jan 8, 2014 | The RAND Blog

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    Teen Employment May Not Always Be a Boon for At-Risk Youth

    For all teens, and especially those who have already experienced problems related to alcohol and drug use, it is essential to monitor the quality of work experiences and keep in mind that some work environments might increase risk for substance use.

    Dec 18, 2012

  • Promoting Success: Using Data to Inform Decision Making

    Many organizations that we have worked with indicate that this approach has helped improve reporting and communication both within and external to their organization, writes Sarah Hunter.

    Mar 21, 2012 | Independent Sector