Research Highlights

Friend to Friend: Decreasing Aggression Among High Risk Urban Girls

Doctors Stephen Leff and Tracy Waasdrop received an NIH funded R01 to assess the effectiveness of an adapted version of the Friend to Friend program.  Friend to Friend, designed by Dr. Leff and his team over 15 years ago, is a school-based aggression intervention comprised of a small group program for girls and a parallel universal component for the classroom.  The program was specifically designed to address the needs of youth attending under-resourced urban elementary schools.  A main focus of Friend to Friend is reducing relationally aggressive behaviors (gossip, rumors, and social exclusion) which are known to cause distress beyond the classroom.  These behaviors often play out days later in hallways, playgrounds, and even on social media.  Whereas prior versions of Friend to Friend were implemented by CHOP research staff, this R01 puts the school in the role of the interventionists, where they learn the strategies and curriculum and provide the program to their students. School staff will have coaching from the CHOP research team to provide guidance throughout the intervention.  This coaching model will enable school staff to have the skills to implement the Friend to Friend program long after research funding has ended, creating a sustainable model for school based-aggression prevention in urban under-resourced schools.

Enhancing Outcomes in Adolescent Anorexia Nervosa with Cognitive Remediation Therapy

The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) recently funded a study, "Enhancing Outcomes in Adolescent Anorexia Nervosa with Cognitive Remediation Therapy."  Dr. Alix Timko is the principle investigator.  Anorexia nervosa is a serious eating disorder that begins in adolescence. To date, there is only one intervention with substantial support for treating anorexia in adolescents: Family Based Treatment (FBT). Studies in adults and adolescents with anorexia indicate that they have inefficiencies in cognitive flexibility.  Cognitive Remediation Therapy (CRT) is a treatment known to improve cognitive flexibility. The study tests the hypothesis that adding CRT to FBT can improve long-term outcomes for adolescents with anorexia. In this study, adolescents ages 12-18 with anorexia will be enrolled in one of three treatment combinations: FBT alone, FBT plus parent-focused CRT or FBT plus adolescent-focused CRT. The ultimate purpose of this project is to determine whether or not CRT improves cognitive flexibility in parents, adolescents, or both. If successful, it will be the first step in determining how best to add CRT to FBT in order to improve outcomes.

School Adolescent Mood Project: Efficacy of Counselor-Implemented IPT-AST

The Institute of Education Sciences (IES) is funding a 5-year school-based study, "School Adolescent Mood Project: Efficacy of Counselor-Implemented IPT-AST." Dr. Jami Young is the principal investigator of the study.  Interpersonal Psychotherapy-Adolescent Skills Training (IPT-AST) is an evidence-based depression prevention program.  The purpose of this study is to test whether IPT-AST is effective when implemented by school counselors and leads to positive adolescent outcomes.  School counselors in the School District of Philadelphia will be randomly assigned to deliver IPT-AST or services-as-usual (SAU).  Adolescents with elevated depressive symptoms will be identified, randomized to IPT-AST or SAU, and assessed over time to examine social, emotional, and school outcomes and moderators and mediators of intervention effects.  Additionally, the study will examine key implementation variables, which will inform future implementation efforts. The study will yield important information on the acceptability and efficacy of counselor-delivered IPT-AST and will promote the provision of more efficacious care in schools.