Research-practice Partners Assess Their First Joint Project

Published in: Science and Practice Perspectives, v. 3, no. 1, Dec. 2005, p. 38-45

by Suzanne L. Wenzel, Patricia A. Ebener, Sarah B. Hunter, Katherine E. Watkins, James Gilmore

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Investigators from RAND Corporation and community treatment providers at Behavioral Health Services joined forces to test an intervention to improve services for patients with co-occurring mental disorders. In the course of working together, the partners confronted many of the issues that typify research-practice collaborations in community settings. The researchers' applied theoretical understanding and the counselors' intimacy with patient responses combined to strengthen the intervention. However, counselors' discomfort with some protocols and changes reflecting the extremely dynamic nature of the community-based research setting complicated the study execution and interpretation. Despite these challenges, the intervention improved the counselor's ability to identify and respond appropriately to patient's co-occurring disorders, and one of its components was associated with improved patient outcomes. The experience also demonstrated the advisability of consulting collaboratively with clinic staff during the planning of studies and the pretesting of study protocols.

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