Jacob Kraemer Tebes PhD
Professor of Psychiatry, in the Child Study Center and of Epidemiology (Chronic Diseases); Director, Division of Prevention and Community Research, Department of Psychiatry; Director, The Consultation Center; Director of Psychology, Connecticut Mental Health Center
Community psychology; Prevention & mental health promotion; Adolescent substance abuse; Culture & human diversity; Recovery from mental illness; Research methodology; Program & systems evaluation; Interdisciplinary research; Community science; Team science
- Risk and Resilience Research Group - includes studies of at risk children, adolescents, and adults that: a) identify risk and protective factors for resilience and substance use, and b) examine the effectiveness of community-based interventions.
- Rhode Island Data Anaytic Center - includes tracking of services for children, adolescents, and families served through the Rhode Island Department of Children, Youth, and Families; examining processes and outcomes of services; and, the use of data to inform best practices, service enhancement, and policy development.
- Evaluation of the Interdisciplinary Research Consortium on Stress, Self-Control, and Addiction - includes ongoing evaluation of interdisciplinary team science in a consortium of over 50 scientists from almost 20 disciplines.
- Philadelphia Mural Arts Evaluation - includes a comprehensive, multi-level comparative outcome evaluation of participatory public arts involvement among persons in recovery from mental illness, addiction, or trauma on individual and community recovery and transformation.
My primary research focus is to conduct community-based studies that identify risk and protective factors associated with human resilience, or that examine the impact of school or community interventions on resilience and positive youth development. My research is collaborative and often carried out in partnership with colleagues, community-based organizations, state and municipal agencies, and other community stakeholders. This research is conceptualized within multiple levels - such as the individual, the family, peers, the school, the neighborhood or community, and the broader culture - and generally takes place in a variety of community settings that involve mostly at risk, traumatized, or clinical populations. Examples of some of these population groups are: bereaved young adults; "sandwiched generation" women caregivers; children of mothers with serious mental illness; maltreated children or children in foster care; urban, low-income adolescents; and persons in recovery from mental illness or addiction. Some of my research involves randomized controlled studies and some involves evaluations of programs or services of state agencies and community-based organizations. As an evaluator, I study the operations and effectiveness of programs and services designed for at risk, traumatized, or clinical populations. This work can be used to inform professional practice, the design of new programs, the transformation of settings and communities, or the development of data-driven and effective policy. I also have research interests in prevention and community research methodology. In this work, my colleagues and I have proposed principles for conducting research in community settings, developed innovative approaches to assess community-based phenomena, helped define the emerging field of community science, and examined the characteristics of interdisciplinary research. Our work on interdisciplinary research has focused specifically on how interdisciplinary team science can lead to more accelerated and innovative science.
Extensive Research Description
My scholarly work has primarily focused on two areas: 1) the study of resilience among vulnerable populations; and, 2) evaluation research and community research methodology. My research is conceptualized within multiple social-ecological levels -- such as the individual, the family, peers, the school, the neighborhood or community, and the broader culture -- and generally takes place in a variety of community settings that involve mostly at risk, traumatized, or clinical populations. Examples of some of these population groups include: bereaved young adults; “sandwiched generation” women caregivers; children of mothers with serious mental illness; maltreated children or children in foster care; urban, low-income adolescents; and persons in recovery from mental illness or addiction. Some of my research involves randomized controlled trials and some involves evaluations of programs or services carried out by public agencies or community-based organizations. Most of this work has been collaborative and conducted in partnership with other investigators, community-based organizations, state and municipal agencies, and community stakeholders. In my evaluation research, I study the operations and effectiveness of programs and services designed for at risk, traumatized, or clinical populations. To the extent possible, my research is intended to inform professional practice, the design of new programs, the transformation of settings and communities, or the development of data-driven and effective policy. Below I summarize my scholarly work on resilience and research methodology, and describe its relationship to other scholarly areas, including: the prevention of adolescent substance use, positive youth development, adaptation and resilience promotion with various vulnerable target populations, culture and diversity, the use of data to inform practice and policy development, and meta-science.
Resilience. Resilience is characterized by normative development despite adverse circumstances. My colleagues and I have sought to identify risk and protective factors associated with resilience among vulnerable populations, and to promote resilience among at-risk groups. My early research examined risk processes among women who had primary caregiving responsibilities for a child as well as an elder family member, which led to a randomized trial of the effectiveness of mutual support for these “sandwiched generation” women. This trial was among the first to examine the health impacts of mutual support on the children of caregivers. In other studies, my colleagues and I have examined resilience processes among children of mothers with serious mental illnesses and bereaved young adults. More recently, we have studied risk and protective factors for various outcomes involving maltreated and foster care children in the child welfare system.
My colleagues and I have also conducted trials of community-based programs among adolescent populations at-risk for substance use and other problem behaviors. Initially, we examined the effectiveness of teaching decision-making skills in school settings to urban, small-town adolescents and their parents in order to prevent adolescent substance use; we then adapted this intervention for use with urban, low-income adolescents in after-school settings by incorporating positive youth development principles and cultural heritage activities. Next, we developed a school-based mentoring intervention for urban, low-income adolescents to prevent substance use and promote resilience. All of these interventions were successful in preventing substance use.
I have also been fortunate to collaborate with other investigators to examine the effectiveness of interventions that promote community adaptation for various clinical populations. These have included randomized controlled trials of community-based programs, such as crisis-respite services for persons with serious mental illness or peer support services for persons in recovery from serious mental illness, as well as large-scale studies of the effectiveness of statewide services, such as community support services for persons in recovery; system of care services for children with serious emotional disorders; and multi-systemic therapy for juvenile offenders and their families.
Evaluation and community research methodology. For many years, I have had a scholarly interest in evaluation and community research methodology, and at times, this interest has led to research projects that overlap with my work on resilience. My interest in methodology stems from the challenge posed by the observation that human behavior is subject to multiple socio-ecological influences that operate simultaneously, thus making it difficult to determine causality. Some of the work that my colleagues and I have done shows how various forms of bias influence causal inferences about external validity in community-based randomized trials. My colleagues and I have also introduced various methodological innovations in community research, such as the term “panel accretion” to describe participants who are added to a panel study after a prevention trial begins; a “convergence index” to depict the similarity of sibling risk within families; and a system-level approach to assessing service access within a system of care. More recently, we have extended this work to describe cultural influences, broadly defined, on community-based research. This scholarly work has combined my interests in methodology and resilience, and provided an opportunity to examine empirically a longstanding teaching interest in culture and human diversity.
I have also had an abiding interest in meta-science, that is, the nature and structure of science, how it is conducted, and its historic and philosophical foundations. I have written about the philosophical roots underlying the emerging field of community science and mixed methods research, and have argued for greater theoretical and methodological pluralism in community-based research in order to understand better the multi-level influences on human behavior. My colleagues and I have also argued how pluralism is enhanced through interdisciplinary approaches and mixed methods, and we illustrated this by showing how mixed methods could be incorporated into experimental or quasi-experimental designs.
As principal investigator of the evaluation of the Interdisciplinary Research Consortium on Stress, Self-control, and Addiction (IRCSSA) at Yale, I have been fortunate to be a part of a group of researchers who are focused on interdisciplinary research, and specifically, interdisciplinary team science. In this connection, I currently serve as an advisor to the national evaluation of the nine Interdisciplinary Research Centers funded by NIH (of which IRCSSA is one), and serve as team science advisor to the faculty scholar training program on Building Interdisciplinary Research Careers in Women’s Health at Yale. These involvements make me excited to be part of the emerging field known as the “Science of Team Science.”
Scholarship on research methodology integrates my research, teaching, and applied interests by providing opportunities for collaboration as a co-investigator on community-based studies conducted by colleagues; as a consultant to national, state, or municipal agencies; and as a testifying expert on federal class action litigation in which rigorous evaluation research can inform judicial decisions and subsequent policy. These varying roles blend research, practice, and policy development, and provide opportunities for the teaching and mentoring of pre- and postdoctoral fellows and faculty.