Project Summary

Background: Effective integrated care requires that health systems promote individual and family engagement in care decisions, and effective self-management. This in turn requires consumer and provider participation in comparative effectiveness research (CER) of behavioral health interventions, and in dissemination of best practices. Rhode Island lacks infrastructure for academic-community partnership in this area. 

Proposed Solution to the Problem: The project team will develop a community-academic partnership as ongoing infrastructure for stakeholder-engaged CER research in behavioral health services. The setting is statewide. 


  • Build a broad, effective statewide coalition 
  • Create governing structure and develop leadership 
  • Achieve mutual learning among investigators, people with behavioral health needs, and providers so that they understand each other’s perspectives, expertise, culture, and values—and can work together effectively 
  • Develop successful CER proposals based on collaboration among the stakeholders
  • Improve behavioral health services from the point of view of all stakeholders 
  • Put the coalition on a sound, long-term resource base 
  • Make resources and knowledge gained through the project broadly available 

Activities: The project team will organize a steering committee representing all stakeholder groups. In a mutual learning process, academic partners will present on principles of rigorous research; health services practice and policy issues related to behavioral health; and other subjects of interest to partners. Community partners will present personal experience of behavioral health services; priority needs; and how to do studies that are culturally competent, build community capacity, and meet community needs. The team will develop an agenda for stakeholder-engaged CER research using structured methods. The team will match academic and community partners to carry out the agenda. Project leaders will conduct ongoing evaluation and disseminate the team’s findings. 

Outcomes and Outputs (projected): The researchers will create a sustainable academic-community partnership for stakeholder-engaged CER and dissemination of best practices in behavioral health. Specific outcomes include the development of curricular items, an agenda and successful proposals for stakeholder-engaged research, the knowledge gained and disseminated from completion of those projects, the experience and skills gained by participants. They will also include sustainable working relationships among the participating agencies and individuals, and engagement with public agencies that can promote the broad implementation of new models for health services organization and delivery that result from this effort.

Patient and Stakeholder Engagement Plan: The essence of this proposal is stakeholder engagement; it is not a separate component. Stakeholders will participate in at least monthly steering committee meetings, and all other activities. They will educate academic investigators and providers about their personal experiences and perceived need for research and health services reform, and participate in all decision making. 

Brown School of Public Health and the Substance Use and Mental Health Services Council of Rhode Island are the lead agencies. Additional collaborators are the Mental Health Association of Rhode Island; National Alliance on Mental Illness Rhode Island; Oasis Wellness and Recovery Centers; and RICARES, Rhode Island’s Recovery Community Organization.

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Project Information

Michael Barton Laws, PhD, MA
Brown University School of Public Health

Key Dates

18 months


Project Status
State State The state where the project originates, or where the primary institution or organization is located. View Glossary
Last updated: February 2, 2023