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$2.1 Million in Grants Awarded to Study Child Mental Health Conditions

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Press Release Date: November 19, 1998

Federal grants totaling $2.1 million have been awarded to researchers at three universities and a hospital to study treatments for depression, attention deficit disorder and oppositional defiant disorder in children and adolescents. This cluster of research projects is designed to improve mental health interventions in primary care settings such as clinics, schools and doctors' offices. The research also will develop ways to improve the efficiency and cost-effectiveness of treatments for this population.

"Millions of children receive treatment everyday for these three complex illnesses—yet we have almost no scientific evidence showing whether or not these interventions are working. Considering the substantial impact these conditions have on so many children and their families, this scientific gap must be addressed," said AHCPR Administrator John M. Eisenberg, M.D. "These studies will bridge that gap by determining the most effective interventions and then helping to translate that information into medical practice."

The grants are funded jointly by the Agency for Health Care Policy and Research (AHCPR), the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) and the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH).

"As a nation, we increasingly are becoming aware that such problem behaviors as poor grades, emotional outbursts and substance abuse often are related to mental disorders in children and adolescents," said SAMHSA Administrator Nelba Chavez, Ph.D. "But two-thirds of young people in this country who suffer from a mental disorder still are not receiving the help they need. These studies will provide us with valuable information on how to enhance intervention and treatment outcomes to the benefit of those children in need of help and their families as well."

  • Youth Partners in Care. (Grant No.: HS09908). Principal investigator: Joan R. Asarnow, Ph.D., University of California, Los Angeles, CA. Project period: 1998-2003. First-year funding: $622,646. Funded by AHCPR.

    This study will evaluate the impact of a quality-improvement intervention in a managed care setting. The treatment intervention focuses on educating the patient and the primary care provider about depression treatment and the best use of clinic resources. It will measure outcomes such as satisfaction with care, clinical symptoms, daily functioning, service use and costs, indirect costs and parental psychological distress.

  • Treating Oppositional Defiant Disorder in Primary Care. (Grant No.: MH59462). Principal investigator: John V. Lavigne, Ph.D., Children's Memorial Hospital, Chicago, IL. Project period: 1998-2002. First-year funding: $542,263. Funded jointly by AHCPR and NIMH.

    Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD) is the most common psychiatric disruptive behavior disorder among preschool-aged children, with long-term social consequences ranging from delinquency and substance abuse to high-risk sexual behavior in adolescence. This study will examine the effectiveness of using a psychological intervention in primary care pediatric settings to help identify and treat pre-school children with ODD. It also will evaluate how well a 10-week training program on parenting skills reduces the incidence of ODD, and how well the intervention reduces the use of ambulatory and emergency room care.

  • Enhancing ADHD Treatment Effectiveness by Pediatrics and Schools. (Grant No.: MH59461). Principal investigator: Mark L. Wolraich, M.D., Vanderbilt University, Nashville, TN. Project period: 1998-2002. First-year funding: $465,903. Funded by NIMH.

    This study is designed to implement a model program for children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in the "real world" setting of school and physicians' practices. The model program will enhance communications between general medical and educational professionals regarding the evaluation and management of these children. ADHD is considered to be one of the most important problems in the pediatric age group and a pressing problem for schools.

  • Effectiveness of Interpersonal Psychotherapy (IPT-A) in School-Based Health Clinics. (Grant No.: SM52671). Principal investigator: Laura H. Mufson, Ph.D., Columbia University, New York, NY. Project period: 1998-2001. First-year funding: $460,747. Funded by SAMHSA.

    This research will test the clinical and cost-effectiveness of providing Interpersonal Psychotherapy for Adolescents (IPT-A) for adolescents with depression in a poor urban area. IPT-A is a guideline-based mental health treatment focusing on improved social function, interpersonal problem-solving skills as well as symptom reduction. Mental health professionals working from three Manhattan public school-based health clinics will be trained to deliver IPT-A as a short-term intervention. The research will measure such outcomes as clinical status, social functioning, school performance and attendance, and use of other medical and psychiatric services.

AHCPR, SAMHSA, and NIMH are agencies of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. AHCPR supports and conducts research to improve the quality, effectiveness, and cost-effectiveness of health care, as well as access to services. SAMHSA, a public health agency within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, is the lead federal agency for improving the quality and availability of substance abuse prevention, addiction treatment and mental health services in the United States. NIMH, part of the National Institutes of Health, conducts and supports research nationwide on mental illness and mental health, including studies of the brain, behavior, and mental health services.

Select to access online information about SAMHSA ( and NIMH (

For additional information, contact AHCPR Public Affairs: Salina Prasad, (301) 427-1864 (, or SAMHSA at (301) 443-1838: James Michie.

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