Skip to main content


Log in

Engaging and Recruiting Counties in an Experiment on Implementing Evidence-based Practice in California

  • Original Paper
  • Published:
Administration and Policy in Mental Health and Mental Health Services Research Aims and scope Submit manuscript


There is a growing consensus that implementation of evidence-based intervention and treatment models holds promise to improve the quality of services in child public service systems such as mental health, juvenile justice, and child welfare. Recent policy initiatives to integrate such research-based services into public service systems have created pressure to expand knowledge about implementation methods. Experimental strategies are needed to test multi-level models of implementation in real world contexts. In this article, the initial phase of a randomized trial that tests two methods of implementing Multidimensional Treatment Foster Care (an evidence-based intervention that crosses child public service systems) in 40 non-early adopting California counties is described. Results are presented that support the feasibility of using a randomized design to rigorously test contrasting implementation models and engaging system leaders to participate in the trial.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in via an institution to check access.

Access this article

Subscribe and save

Springer+ Basic
EUR 32.99 /Month
  • Get 10 units per month
  • Download Article/Chapter or Ebook
  • 1 Unit = 1 Article or 1 Chapter
  • Cancel anytime
Subscribe now

Buy Now

Price excludes VAT (USA)
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.

Instant access to the full article PDF.

Fig. 1
Fig. 2

Similar content being viewed by others


  1. One additional county involved in a class action lawsuit that precluded their participation was also excluded.

  2. Although not relevant to the current article, it is noteworthy that at the time of recruitment, system leaders were asked to complete a set of pre-implementation assessment measures. Baseline measures included: the Organizational Culture Survey (Glisson and James 2002) an adapted version of the Organizational Readiness for Change (ORC; Lehman et al. 2002), an adapted version of the MST Personnel Data Inventory (Schoenwald 1998), the Attitudes toward Treatment Manuals Survey (Addis and Krasnow 2000) and the Evidence-based Practice Attitude Scale (Aarons 2004). Those system leaders in counties who were randomized to Cohorts 2 and 3 will be asked to repeat these measures once or twice, respectively (a wait-list feature of the design).

  3. Some counties had more than one person from each service sector choose to consent to participate in the study (i.e., the discussions about whether or not to implement MTFC and completing the pre-implementation assessment battery).


  • Aarons, G. A. (2004). Mental health provider attitudes toward adoption of evidence-based practice: The evidence-based practice attitude scale (EBPAS). Mental Health Services Research, 6, 61–74.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Addis, M. E., & Krasnow, A. D. (2000). A national survey of practicing psychologists’ attitudestoward pscyhotherapy treatment manuals. Journal of Counseling and Clinical Psychology, 68(2), 331–339.

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  • Aos, S., Phipps, P., Barnoski, R., & Leib, R. (1999). The comparative costs and benefits of programs to reduce crime: A review of national research findings with implications for Washington State. Olympia: Washington State Institute for Public Policy.

    Google Scholar 

  • Brown, C. H., Wang, W., Kellam, S. G., Muthén, B. O. et al., (2008). Methods for testing theory and evaluating impact in randomized field trials: Intent-to-treat analyses for integrating the perspectives of person, place, and time. Journal of Drug and Alcohol Dependence (in press).

  • Brown, C. H., Wyman, P. A., Guo, J., & Peña, J. (2006). Dynamic wait-listed designs for randomized trials: New designs for prevention of youth suicide. Clinical Trials, 3, 259–271.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Chamberlain, P. (1998). Treatment foster care. Family strengthening series (OJJDP Bulletin No. NCJ 1734211). Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Justice.

    Google Scholar 

  • Chamberlain, P., & Reid, J. B. (1991). Using a specialized foster care treatment model for children and adolescents leaving the state mental hospital. Journal of Community Psychology, 19, 266–276.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Chamberlain, P., Leve, L. D., & DeGarmo, D. S. (2007). Multidimensional treatment foster care for girls in the juvenile justice system: 2-year follow-up of a randomized clinical trial. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 75(1), 187–193.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Cox, D. R. (1972). Regression models and life tables. Journal of the Royal Statistical Society Series B, 34, 187–220.

    Google Scholar 

  • Fox, J. C., Blank, M., Berman, J., & Rovnyak, V. G. (1999). Mental disorders and help seeking in a rural impoverished population. International Journal of Psychiatry in Medicine, 29, 181–195.

    Article  PubMed  CAS  Google Scholar 

  • Glisson, C. (1992). Structure and technology in human service organizations. In Y. Hasenfeld (Ed.), Human services as complex organizations (pp. 184–202). Beverly Hills: Sage.

  • Glisson, C., & James, L. R. (2002). The cross-level effects of culture and climate in human service teams. Journal of Organizational Behavior, 23, 767–794.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Henggeler, S. W., Schoenwald, S. K., Borduin, C. M., Rowland, M. D., & Cunningham, P. B. (1998). Multisystemic treatment of antisocial behavior in children and adolescents. New York: Guilford Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Institute of Medicine. (2001). Crossing the quality chasm: a new health system for the 21st century. Washington DC, National Academy Press: Author.

  • Judge, T. A., Thoresen, C. J., Pucik, V., & Welbourne, T. M. (1999). Managerial coping with organizational change: A dispositional perspective. Journal of Applied Psychology, 84, 107–122.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Lehman, E. K., Greener, J. M., & Simpson, D. D. (2002). Assessing organizational readiness for change. Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment, 22, 197–209.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Marsenich, L. (2002) Evidence-based practices in mental health services for foster youth. Sacramento: California Institute for Mental Health.

    Google Scholar 

  • National Institute of Mental Health. (2004). Treatment research in mental illness: improving the nation’s public mental health care through NIMH funded interventions research. Washington, DC, National Advisory Mental Health Council’s Workgroup on Clinical Trials: Author.

  • National Institute of Mental Health (2001). Blueprint for change: Research on child and adolescent mental health. Washington, DC, National Advisory Mental Health Council’s Workgroup on Child and Adolescent Mental Health Intervention Development and Deployment: Author.

  • Olds, D. L., Hill, P. L., O’Brien, R., Racine, D., & Moritz, P. (2003). Taking preventive intervention to scale: The nurse-family partnership. Cognitive and Behavioral Practice, 10(4), 278–290.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Substance Abuse, Mental Health Services Administration. (2003). President’s new freedom commission on mental health (SMA 03-3832). Washington, DC: Author.

    Google Scholar 

  • Rogers, E. M. (1995). Diffusion of innovation (4th ed.). New York: The Free Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Rones, M., & Hoagwood, K. (2000). School-based mental health services: A research review. Clinical Child & Family Psychology Review, 3, 223–241.

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  • Schoenwald, S. K. (1998). MST personnel data inventory. Charleston: Medical Universityof South Carolina, Family Services Research Center.

    Google Scholar 

  • Schoenwald, S. K., Sheidow, A. J., & Letourneau, E. J. (2004). Toward effective quality assurance in evidence-based practice: Links between expert consultation, therapist fidelity, and child outcome. Journal of Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology, 33(1), 94–104.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Sosna, T., & Marsenich, L. (2006). Community development team model: Supporting the model adherent implementation of programs and practices. Sacramento: California Institute for Mental Health.

    Google Scholar 

  • U. S. Department of Health and Human Services. (2000a). Children and mental health. In Mental health: A report of the surgeon general (DHHS publication No. DSL 2000-0134-P, pp. 123–220). Washington, DC, U.S. Government Printing Office: Author.

  • U. S. Department of Health and Human Services. (2000b). Prevention of violence. In Mental health: A report of the surgeon general (DHHS publication No. DSL 2000-0134-P). Washington, DC, U.S. Government Printing Office: Author.

Download references


The principal support for this research was provided by NIMH grant MH076158 and the Department of Health and Human Services Children’s Administration for Children and Families. Other support was provided by NIMH grant MH054257; and NIDA grants: DA017592, DA015208, DA2017202, and K23DA021603.

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Corresponding author

Correspondence to Patricia Chamberlain.

Additional information

The first author is the Principal Investigator on the study, which was awarded to the Center for Research to Practice in Eugene Oregon. Subcontracts were awarded to the California Institute for Mental Health, the University of South Florida, and TFC Consultants, Inc. Patricia Chamberlain, John Reid and Gerard Bouwman are three of four owners of TFC Consultants, Inc., the company implementing MTFC in this study.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Chamberlain, P., Brown, C.H., Saldana, L. et al. Engaging and Recruiting Counties in an Experiment on Implementing Evidence-based Practice in California. Adm Policy Ment Health 35, 250–260 (2008).

Download citation

  • Received:

  • Accepted:

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI: