Bridging the Gap: Translating a Research-Based Program into an Agency-Based Service for Bereaved Children and Families: Timothy S. Ayers, C. Caryn Kondo, and Irwin N. Sandler
T here is growing recognition that a wide gap exists between univer sity-based experimental trials of intervention programs and successful deliv-ery of these interventions in community settings. The multiple reasons for this gap have been well described in prior discussions of the research-to-practice gap in treatment (Addis, 2002; Clarke, 1995; Schoenwald & Hoagwood, 2001) and preventive interventions (Biglan, Mrazek, Carnine, & Flay, 2003; Kellam & Langevin, 2003; National Advisory Mental Health Council [NAMHC] Workgroup on Prevention Research, 1998). The contexts in which interventions are delivered in community agencies differ from the context of traditional experimental research trials on many dimensions that affect their capacity to deliver highly structured, manualized interventions, including characteristics of providers, clients, and the agencies’ capacity for provider training and supervision (Dobson & Craig, 1998; Duan, Braslow, Weisz, & Wells, 2001; Schoenwald & Hoagwood, 2001). The report of the NAMHC’s Workgroup on Child and Adolescent Mental Health Intervention Development and Deployment (2001) concluded that reducing this gap required a new approach to intervention development in which a focus on “the –nal resting place for treatment or service delivery be folded into the design, development, re–nement, and implementation of the intervention from the beginning” (p. 6). In the child treatment literature, Weisz and colleagues (Weisz, Chu, & Polo, 2004) have advanced a deployment-focused model in which they encourage
strong clinician-researcher collaborations during many of the phases of developing and testing new interventions in treatment settings. The prevention service development model offered by Sandler and colleagues (Sandler, Ostrom, Bitner, Ayers, & Wolchik, 2005) also highlights the importance of close collaborations with end users and advocates proactively involving these users in the design and evaluation of new services. Although Sandler et al. (2005) advocated that the collaboration begin at the earliest stage of the design of the intervention, they recognized that collaboration is also needed to –nd ways for community agencies to optimally adapt programs that were initially tested in a research context so that they can be effectively delivered to their clients.