Our Research

Center on Mental Health Services Research and Policy

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The Center’s research over the past quarter-century has contributed to the evidence base and advanced knowledge in behavioral health care and medicine. Many studies have produced interventions, tools, curricula, webinars and podcasts that support translation of our findings into practice, policy, and people's daily lives.

Healthy ReStart: National Web Survey on the Status of Adults with Psychiatric Disabilities, Intervention Development, & Pilot RCT

This study began with a national web survey to determine the health, mental health, and functional status of adults with psychiatric disabilities during the COVID-19 pandemic. Results were used to design a health coaching intervention using online wellness tools called Healthy ReStart. The intervention is being tested in a pilot randomized controlled trial at community mental health agencies. Study partners are Collaborative Support Programs of New Jersey, Boston University Center for Psychiatric Rehabilitation, Temple University Collaborative on Community Inclusion, and University of Maryland School of Medicine.

Pivot Toward Wellness: Impact of Disrupted Life Transitions on Young Adults’ Health Status & Well-Being

Phase one of this study was a national web survey of young adults with mental health conditions to assess the impact of disrupted transitions on their health and mental health during the COVID-19 pandemic. Phase two involves longitudinal qualitative research interviews to explore how societal changes have affected life transitions in ways that influence young people's health and well-being. This project is a collaboration with the Transitions to Adulthood Center for Research at the University of Massachusetts Medical School.

National Survey on the Health Status of the Certified Peer Specialist (CPS) Workforce

This research adds a new wave of survey data collection to a longitudinal panel study of recently-certified behavioral health Peer Specialists in 5 states. The parent study, called the CPS Career Outcomes Study is being led by Live & Learn Incorporated. Additional in-depth qualitative interviews with a subset of the cohort are exploring how CPSs view their health and health risks, and how these impact their labor force participation.

Randomized Controlled Trial of Blended Telehealth Patient Navigation

This project is designing an innovative blended telehealth navigator intervention that combines the evidence-based practices of patient navigation and telemedicine. A randomized controlled trial study is testing the intervention working with study partners from IIT's Chicago Health Disparities Center, Thresholds, Howard Brown Health, and Heartland Health Centers.

Randomized Controlled Trial of Virtual Wellness Recovery Action Plan (V-WRAP)

This randomized controlled trial study assesses the effectiveness of Wellness Recovery Action Plan (WRAP®) when delivered via videoconferencing technology. The project’s second phase will involve creation and evaluation of a new national training and certification program for the virtual version of WRAP. Study partners are the Copeland Center for Wellness and Recovery, Texas Panhandle Centers, and Grand Lake Mental Health Center, Inc. 

Testing an Intervention to Promote Financial Wellness Among Adults with Psychiatric Disabilities

This randomized controlled trial study is testing a financial education program called Building Financial Wellness. The program is designed to increase financial literacy and promote money management skills that enhance economic self-sufficiency and mental health recovery for adults with psychiatric disabilities. Study partners are Collaborative Support Programs of New Jersey, Sertoma Centre, Inc., and Trilogy Behavioral Healthcare, Inc.

Multi-Site Randomized Controlled Trial of Self-Directed Care for Adults with Psychiatric Disabilities

This randomized controlled trial study of mental health self-directed care is occurring in the states of Florida and Texas. It is testing a model of service delivery in which participants manage a personal budget from which they purchase mental health care, social supports, and items that allow them to recover their health and emotional wellness and live independently

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Developing a Model to Promote Health and Recovery after Medical Hospitalizations: Community Health Workers Teamed with Peer Specialists

This study integrates a proven strategy used in general medicine (community health workers) with mental health peer-delivered services in a new intervention designed to prevent unnecessary 30-day readmissions in behavioral health patients following hospital discharge. The intervention is delivered during the transition from inpatient treatment to community care for a medical condition, and is intended to enhance the health, mental health, and independent living of patients.

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Effects of Self-Directed Career Accounts on Vocational Outcomes of Supported Employment Recipients

This project examines the impact of a flexible fund called a Career Account on the vocational success of individuals receiving evidence-based practice supported employment services using the Individual Placement and Support model. Career Accounts allow participants to manage a personal budget from which they purchase goods and services needed for job seeking, career development, and employment.

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Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic on the Lives & Employment of Adults with Behavioral Health Disorders

This web survey explored changes in the lives and vocational status of adults with mental health and substance use disorders during the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic. An anonymous online survey was completed by 272 adults, recruited from statewide networks of community programs in New Jersey and New York.

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Whole Health Action Management: A Randomized Controlled Trial of a Peer-Led Health

This multisite randomized controlled trial study tested the outcomes of a peer-developed and peer-delivered program called Whole Health Action Management (WHAM). The intervention is designed to increase the skills, knowledge, and confidence needed for the self-management of physical health among adults with a serious mental illness. 

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Nutrition and Exercise for Wellness and Recovery (NEW-R)

This study is a randomized controlled trial of a weight management program specifically designed for people with serious mental illness. The intervention focuses on increasing healthy eating and levels of physical activity while also providing nutrition education and peer support.

Learn more and access a peer-reviewed research article.

Analysis of Costs and Service Utilization Following Discharge from Medical Hospitalization among Adults with Mental Illnesses

This evaluation of current hospital discharge practices examines the differences in outcomes between adults with and without co-occurring serious mental illnesses and chronic medical conditions using Truven Health Analytics MarketScan® Databases. Findings will be used to design an intervention to enhance access to post-discharge outpatient primary care and improve patient outcomes in the transition from hospital to community.

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Trends in Co-Occurring Serious Mental Illness and Multiple Chronic Conditions and Their Association with Work Disability and SSI/DI

This study will describe trends in the U.S. population from the year 2000-2014 regarding the prevalence of depression and other types of mental illness co-occurring with metabolic syndrome-related and other chronic conditions (SMI-MCCs). It also will examine employment and disability outcomes associated with SMI-MCCs over two years of longitudinal follow-up (2013–2014).

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Observable and Predictable Pathways to Supplemental Security Income/Social Security Disability Insurance Program Exit among Beneficiaries with Psychiatric Disabilities

The goal of this project is to learn what individual characteristics, employment features, and ecological factors influence SSA disability beneficiaries with psychiatric disabilities to voluntarily exit the SSI/SSDI program. Research participants come from a large behavioral health company that trains and certifies local peer specialists and acts in four states as the subcontracted employer of record for this workforce.

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Illinois Individual Placement and Support (IPS) Initiative

This evaluation study is examining the impact of providing evidence-based supported employment services through the IPS model at two sites in Chicago, as well as policy changes and workforce development activities designed to bring this service delivery model to scale throughout the state of Illinois.

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Efficacy of Wellness Recovery Action Planning

This randomized controlled trial study demonstrated that an 8-week peer-led, mental illness self-management intervention called WRAP reduced participants’ psychiatric symptoms, enhanced their recovery and self-advocacy skills, and increased their hopefulness and quality of life.

​Learn more and access peer-reviewed research articles.

Long-Term Effects of Evidence-Based Supported Employment on Earnings and on SSI and SSDI Participation among Individuals with Psychiatric Disabilities

This study examined the long-term effects of evidence-based supported employment services on labor force participation, earnings, and attainment of Social Security Administration non beneficiary status through suspension or termination of disability cash payments due to work. In the decade following service delivery, subjects who received supported employment were significantly more likely than controls to work, had higher earnings, and had lower reliance on SSA disability benefits.

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Efficacy of an Electronic Decision Support System for Smoking Cessation

Results from this randomized controlled trial study showed that a web-based intervention that applies a personalized health checklist has the potential to increase motivation to quit smoking at a lower cost than standard motivational procedures.

​Learn more and access peer-reviewed research articles.

Healthcare Utilization and Interest in Employment Services among Patients in Behavioral Health Homes

This study used data from patients at Medicaid-funded behavioral health homes in Chicago to determine whether these settings support patients’ employment and reduce their reliance on disability benefits. Administrative and survey data were used to explore patients’ health status, labor force participation, medical and mental health service use, and beneficiary status.  

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Health Screening of Medical Co-Morbidities among Adults in Mental Health Recovery

Data from health screenings of public mental health clients held in four states found high rates of chronic medical conditions and health risk behaviors. After attending the health fairs, participants experienced significant increases in self-rated abilities for health practices, personal competence for health maintenance, and health locus of control.

​Learn more and access peer-reviewed research articles.

The Relationship of Multiple Program Benefits and Employment to SSI/SSDI Enrollment and Reliance

This study examined how the Social Security Administration’s programs for people with psychiatric disabilities interact with other benefit programs, and how program participation changes over time in relation to part- or full-time employment. Data from the multisite Employment Intervention Demonstration Program included detailed information about earned and unearned income of mentally ill beneficiaries and non-beneficiaries.

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Use of a Diabetes Registry and Care Coordination in a Medical Health Home for People with Mental Illnesses

This study found that introducing a diabetes registry and care coordination was associated with significant improvements over time in A1C, total cholesterol, triglycerides, triglyceride/HDL ratio, and blood pressure among patients of two Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs) serving adults with serious mental illnesses.

Learn more and access a presentation with study results.

How the Course of Mental Illness and Multiple Health Conditions Predict Change in SSI/SSDI Beneficiary Status and Labor Force Participation for People Under Age 50

This project examined associations between deteriorating mental health conditions and premature labor force exit and public disability program entry, and whether co-occurring physical health conditions exacerbated these transitions. Multivariable random effects logistic and linear regression models analyzed longitudinal data from 1,455 Employment Intervention Demonstration Program participants.

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Advance Crisis Management Program for Inpatient Facilities

In an evaluation of an intervention designed to avoid inpatient seclusion and restraint developed at the Center, the Advance Crisis Management program was associated with decreased utilization of mechanical restraint in a university medical center's psychiatric inpatient units, without increases in patient or staff injuries.

Learn more and access a peer-reviewed research article.

Impact of Contingent Work on Subsequent Labor Force Participation and Wages of Workers with Psychiatric Disabilities

This study explored the impact of contingent labor (i.e., temporary jobs) on subsequent labor force participation and wages of adults with psychiatric disabilities who were receiving supported employment services. Results revealed that having a first job that was temporary was significantly associated with greater likelihood of subsequent contingent employment, with lesser likelihood of subsequent competitive employment, and with lower total and monthly earnings.

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Promoting Self-Determination through Self-Directed Care in Texas

This randomized controlled trial study demonstrated that participants who received mental health SDC were more likely to work, to be taking classes, and to have lower somatic symptom distress than controls. They also had greater coping mastery, higher self-esteem, and higher self-perceived recovery, as well as greater ability to ask for help, to use social support, and to pursue recovery goals. They also were more likely than controls to perceive their service delivery system as client-driven.

Learn more and access a presentation with study results. 

The Mental Health & Rehabilitation Needs of Recipients of Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) in Illinois

This study found a high prevalence of current and lifetime mental health and substance abuse disorders among women receiving TANF. Most recipients who were found to have mental health disorders were not receiving needed mental health services.

​Learn more and access a peer-reviewed research article.

Assessing Cultural Competency in Peer-Run Mental Health Programs

This project developed and evaluated the impact of a cultural competency assessment in 9 peer-run programs in the U.S. Results suggested that peer-run programs benefit from assessing their cultural competency, and implementing program-specific strategies to improve their ability to engage people from across diverse groups.

Learn more and access a peer-reviewed research article. 

Asset Accumulation through Individual Development Accounts

This evaluation demonstrated that savers with mental illnesses can develop assets and reach their financial goals when receiving integrated financial education and clinical support.

Learn more and access a peer-reviewed research article. 

Demonstration to Maintain Independence and Employment Long-Term Follow-Up

Under the Demonstration to Maintain Independence and Employment (DMIE), the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services funded the state of Texas to develop and test an intervention offering comprehensive health insurance, healthcare navigators, and vocational supports for employed workers with mental illness and co-occurring behavioral and physical health disorders. This study followed DMIE participants 36 months after enrollment to assess the longer-term impact on at-risk workers and the characteristics of those most likely to benefit from such services.

Download to learn more and access a policy brief summarizing study findings

Reasons for Job Separations in a Cohort of Workers with Psychiatric Disabilities

This study examined the factors associated with voluntary job separation (i.e., quitting) among workers with mental illness. In multivariable analysis, individuals were more likely to quit positions at which they worked for twenty hours a week or less, those with which they were dissatisfied, low-wage jobs, non-temporary positions, and jobs in the structural (i.e., construction) occupations.

Learn more and access a peer-reviewed research article

Multi-Site Randomized Controlled Trial of Self-Directed Care for Adults with Psychiatric Disabilities

This randomized controlled trial study of mental health self-directed care is occurring in the states of Florida and Texas. It is testing a model of service delivery in which participants manage a personal budget from which they purchase mental health care, social supports, and items that allow them to recover their health and emotional wellness and live independently

Learn more

Prevalence of DSM-IV Disorders in a Multi-Center HIV+ Women's Cohort

This large-scale psychiatric epidemiology study will determine the prevalence, type, and severity of mental health and substance use disorders in a national cohort of men and women living with HIV/AIDS and a matched seronegative cohort. Also explored will be associations of behavioral health disorders with markers of immunological and virological disease progression and immune reconstitution, mortality, and antiretroviral treatment and adherence. Data come from structured diagnostic interviews with members of the MACS-WIHS Combined Cohort Study conducted at 20 U.S. sites. Discover the findings of an earlier study of mental health and substance use disorders in the HIV-seropositive WIHS cohort: https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10461-018-2051-3