Representative Research Studies

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, TARGET and Trauma Informed Parenting for Resource Parents in reducing traumatic stress symptoms, increasing child and/or caregiver psychosocial functioning, improving parenting outcomes, as well as assessing the viability and utility of the implementation process. Investigations from this data set focus on treatment attrition, moderators of treatment effectiveness and efficacy, co-morbidity and chronicity.  Funding: Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). Sprang (PI).

Secondary Traumatic Stress Practice Lab

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, burnout and compassion satisfaction in a variety of professionals:  foster parents, educators and school personnel; community mental health workers, substance abuse counselors, child protection workers, pandemic and emergency health care providers, disaster first responders, health and 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.  The Secondary Traumatic Stress Informed Organizational Assessment national data repository is housed in the STS Practice Lab.  Funding:  multiple funding streams (Sprang, PI).

 Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Minors

The project investigates the effect of legislative and judicial factors on system responses to sex trafficking of minors (STM) in metropolitan and non-metropolitan communities. Three sources of information (key informant interviews, judicial interviews, and court data), along with the partnership of the survivor-consultant, are used to achieve the four study aims:

1. Evaluate changes in key agency personnel’s awareness, knowledge, and capacity for responding to STM, including trends in charges of human trafficking offenses involving victims who are minors, from pre-implementation to post-implementation of a safe harbor law;

2. Examine the impact of immunity, protective, and rehabilitative provisions of a safe harbor law by examining changes in several key outcomes: (a) charges of prostitution-related offenses for minors, (b) diversion of suspected trafficked youth from the juvenile justice system, (c) referrals and investigations of reports of sex trafficking of minors by the child welfare agency, and (d) referrals of trafficked youth to community organizations for services.

3. Provide guidance on how juvenile and family judges’ knowledge and attitudes influence their responses to trafficking victims as witnesses and as defendants in crimes related to their trafficking victimization within metropolitan and non-metropolitan communities; and

4. Identify and disseminate policy, education, and practice strategies that support informed judicial decision-making in juvenile and family court cases involving youth exploited in commercial sex.

Funding: National Institute of Justice (Cole, PI; Sprang: Co-I)

 Implementation Focused Studies

These studies focus on the facilitators and barriers to the successful planting, sustainment, and scaling up of evidence based practices and treatments in child serving systems of care.  These investigations focus on specific barriers to implementation and effectiveness such as lack of engagement, attrition, healthcare disparities, and provider knowledge, skill and functioning.  Using various implementation frameworks (e.g. NIRN, EPIS, CFIR) these investigations systematically look at factors or drivers that make implementation more viable and the learning technologies that can be effectively used to facilitate technology transfer.  Funding: various federal awards (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. Funding: Multiple funding streams (Sprang, PI)

 Psychometric Studies
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, the Secondary Traumatic Stress Informed Organizational Assessment, the Secondary Traumatic Stress Clinical Algorithm 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.