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Research for Developmental & Behavioral Pediatrics

The Section of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics continues to demonstrate leadership in conducting pediatric and behavioral health services research on the OUHSC campus. The DBP Section has national leadership in research in developmental pediatrics, particularly in Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, Autism, and Child Abuse and Neglect. The Center on Child Abuse and Neglect (CCAN) is one of the most prominent and influential child maltreatment research and training centers nationally. Our Section’s research agenda addresses the scientific understanding of disabilities and of trauma, impacts child health and well-being, as well as the development, refinement, and widespread implementation of evidence-based prevention and treatment practices.

In 2019, we sustained our success in obtaining federal grants, despite continued federal budget cutbacks. More than $8.6 million dollars was awarded to the Section with $5 million in federal grants from SAMHSA, DHHS, HRSA, MCHB, ACF, DOJ, CDC, Department of State, and NIH. In 2019, our section’s grants and contracts resulted in $1.4 million indirect dollars collected for OUHSC. A significant accomplishment of the Section of DBP has been the partnering with the major state-run service systems in Oklahoma (Department of Human Services, Department of Health, Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services, Office of Juvenile Affairs, Juvenile Bureau, Developmental Disabilities Council, Oklahoma Health Care Authority, and the Department of Education) for a number of its research, training, and clinical efforts. We have also been successful in partnering with several local foundations such as the Oklahoma City Community Foundation, Children’s Hospital Foundation, Oklahoma Autism Center Foundation, Oklahoma Partnership for School Readiness Foundation through OU Norman, Case Family Programs, Potts Family Foundation, Arnall Family Foundation, Merck Fund through UCLA, Tourette Association through Cincinnati Children’s Hospital, and FRAXA Research Foundation through Rush University. Due to these partnerships, the section was awarded a total of $427,934 in state, local and national foundation funding. We believe it is critical that health services research be relevant to front-line service delivery and not be a solely academic endeavor. Consequently, the majority of our studies involve children, families, providers and organizations in actual field settings. Partnering with state agencies has the additional advantage that Oklahoma children are able to receive new and state-of-the-art treatment technologies as these technologies are being developed within these state systems. This research-practice partnership between an academic medical center and state agencies has been recognized and cited as a national model by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The diversity in the sources (federal agencies, state agencies, industries, and private foundations) has enhanced the stability of our research funding.

Section research team members include established federally funded scientific researchers with extensive publication records, including experience conducting treatment outcome trials in real-world field settings. As a research group, our strength as investigators lies in our capacity to accommodate reasonable scientific rigor within the demands and realities of this fairly unique service context, along with our well-established research-practice partnerships with state authorities and front-line service provider agencies. We believe that service quality and client outcomes are best advanced by research that involves the system, front-line service providers, and consumers as partners in identifying key questions and targets. We also are committed to research that both advances current scientific knowledge and that offers direct benefit to our federal and state agency and provider partners. Finally, our work relies on a translational framework that emphasizes comparative outcomes observed in authentic real-world settings. Although these types of studies necessarily compromise on some aspects of variable control, they offer external validity advantages which we believe outweigh their limitations. One major foci of our research collaborations has been to develop, adapt, rigorously test, refine and move to scaled-up implementation with evidence-based intervention models. The focus has been both on developing or adapting the evidence-based practices (EBPs) themselves and on improving strategies for how these models can be implemented with fidelity at-scale.