Representative Research Studies
Best Practices Guidelines for Pandemic Disaster Response: A Social Behavioral Evaluation
The objectives of this study are to develop best practice disaster response and planning guidelines for families and children that will optimize the psychosocial response to a pandemic and prevent adverse unintentional consequences such as panic, non-compliance and poor behavioral health outcomes. To that end, this study examines current practices and lessons learned in six states in the US determined to have the highest incident of confirmed cases of H1N1, pediatric deaths, and overall death attributable to the 2009 pandemic. Additionally, Toronto, Canada is included as a study site due to the 2003 SARS pandemic in that city, and Mexico City is targeted because of high rates of morbidity and mortality in that area during the initial onset of H1N1. Funding: Department of Homeland Security/ National Institute of Hometown Security. Sprang (PI).
Child Maltreatment Studies
This area of research focuses on enhancing our understanding of child maltreatment from a multidimensional and transactional perspective. Investigations of risk and protective factors and their complex interactions are designed to inform future prevention, intervention and policy developments in child welfare. This translational research process also serves to directly inform the CTAC service programs serving the child welfare population. Research in this area is ongoing. Past studies have focused on factors that contribute to maltreatment severity, factors associated specifically with fatal maltreatment, the role of caregiver substance misuse in child trauma/maltreatment exposure and the effects of caregivers’ trauma histories on potential for child abuse.
Child Trauma Treatment Study
The objectives of this study are to determine the longitudinal effectiveness of Trauma Focused- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Parent-Child Interaction Therapy, the Child and Family Traumatic Stress Intervention and Child Parent Psychotherapy in reducing traumatic stress symptoms, increasing child psychosocial functioning, improving parenting outcomes, as well as assessing the viability and utility of the dissemination process. Investigations from this data set focus on treatment attrition, moderators of treatment effectiveness and efficacy, co-morbidity and chronicity. This study involves participation in a national cross-site study in conjunction with the National Child Traumatic Stress Network. Funding: Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). Sprang (PI).
Compassion Fatigue and Secondary Traumatic Stress in Professionals
Empirical investigation into the effects of working with trauma is critical to understanding the individual, organizational and systematic factors that can potentiate or mitigate secondary traumatic stress. Several studies have examined levels of secondary traumatic stress, compassion fatigue, burnout and compassion satisfaction in a variety of professionals: community mental health workers, substance abuse counselors, child protection workers, pandemic and emergency health care providers, disaster first responders, behavioral health professionals and trauma researchers. Factors examined include type of exposure, traumatic event characteristics, individual characteristics, agency, and environmental factors; evidence-informed strategies to assist workers and organizations are proposed. A new tool to assess how well-informed organizations are about STS and provide them with real time feedback has been developed and is being tested. This is a novel approach to identify specific organizational areas of strength, as well as opportunities to implement and improve STS-informed policies and practices. Funding: Health Resource Service Administration and the Department for Homeland Security through the National Institute for Hometown Security, Sprang (PI).
Grandparents as Parents: An Investigation of Child Traumatic Stress in Kinship Families
The purpose of this study was to examine the needs of grandparents raising their grandchildren across Kentucky. Surveys included questions related to parenting stress, social support, child-caregiver conflict, child symptoms, health and mobility, and general questions about health access and service needs. Study results can help guide policy and practice decisions for grandfamilies who are raising children due to a traumatic event. Funding: partial funding provided by the United Methodist Home Health and Welfare Fund, Sprang (PI), Choi (Co-I).
Central to the mission of the UK Center on Trauma and Children is the development and testing of psychometric measures used to assess and evaluate trauma constructs and the essential elements of trauma-informed care. Several assessment tools have been developed such as the Trauma Practices Questionnaire and the Secondary Traumatic Stress Informed Organizational Assessment to facilitate evaluation of the practice patterns associated with a trauma responsive program. Additionally CTAC researchers engage in psychometric analysis of commonly used tools in the field, to increase the effectiveness and utility of measurement based care in the field.
Rural Child Well-Being Study
Objectives of this study are as follows: (1) To analyze pre-existing educational, developmental and behavioral functioning data collected in rural communities in children ages 4-12 to determine trends and characteristics of children entering and commencing participation in school. (2) To invite consenting parents of children in this study population to provide interview and psychometric data that can help the researchers understand individual adult characteristics, the psychosocial functioning of their families, as well as the characteristics of their parent-child relationships. (3) To test the relationships among independent variables collected from the parent sample (collected by CTAC researchers) and dependent variables from the child sample (pre-existing and having been collected by school professionals). (4) To determine if analysis of data as described in objectives (1), (2) and (3) reveal any overall characteristics, trends, and/or processes that might be generalized to children and families, which have clinical, program and/or policy management implications. Funding: Drug Endangered Child Training Network. Sprang (PI).