Jacob Kraemer Tebes PhD

Professor of Psychiatry (Psychology), in the Child Study Center and of Epidemiology (Chronic Diseases); Director, Division of Prevention and Community Research, Department of Psychiatry; Director, The Consultation Center; Chief Psychologist, Connecticut Mental Health Center; Program Director, NIDA T32 Postdoctoral Research Training Program in Substance Abuse Prevention

Research Interests

Community psychology; Prevention & public health; Social justice; Resilience in vulnerable populations; Prevention of adolescent substance use; Culture and human diversity; Recovery from serious mental illness; Community research methodology, including CBPR, mixed methods, and program evaluation; Transdisciplinary team science; Philosophy of science

Current Projects

  • Risk and Resilience Research - 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 Analytic Center -is a public-academic partnership between the Rhode Island Department of Children, Youth, and Families and Yale University that includes monitoring of services for children, adolescents, and families; examining processes and outcomes of services; using data to inform best practices, service enhancement, and policy development; and conducting field research and administrative studies to answer questions that can lead to improvements in the lives of children and families.
  • Team Science - is a comprehensive mixed methods evaluation of the Interdisciplinary Research Consortium on Stress, Self-Control, and Addiction that includes an assessment of interdisciplinary team science among a consortium of over 50 scientists from almost 20 disciplines.
  • Philadelphia Community Health Project - is a comprehensive, multi-level assessment of adults in recovery from addiction and mental illness who are receiving behavioral health services in distressed Philadelphia neighborhoods; also includes a comparative evaluation of participatory public arts involvement and its role in individual recovery and neighborhood transformation.
  • Bulding Agency Capacity for Program Evaluation - is a tailored program of consultation and training across two years to build program evaluation capacity in more than 20 agencies in Greater Philadelphia that serve individuals with behavioral health challenges; also includes oversight of a Learning Collaborative for agencies that have completed the program to sustain gains made.

Research Summary

My primary interests are in community-based research to promote resilience, prevent adolescent substance use, and the integration of cultural approaches into practice, research, and policy. My research is collaborative and often carried out in partnership with community-based organizations, state and municipal agencies, colleagues, and other community stakeholders. This work is conceptualized from a social justice perspective, examines multiple levels (such as the individual, the family, peers, the school, the neighborhood or community, and the broader culture), and 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 trials and some involves evaluations of programs or services carried out by public agencies or community-based organizations. Most of this research 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 vulnerable 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. I also have research interests in philosophy of science, community research methodology, and program evaluation. 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 transdisciplinary research, including transdisciplinary team science.

Extensive Research Description

Below is a more extensive summary my research and scholarly work on 1) understanding and promoting resilience in vulnerable populations; 2) the prevention of adolescent substance use; 3) the integration of cultural approaches into practice, research, and policy, and 4) community research methodology, program evaluation, and philosophy of 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 statewide 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.

I have also collaborated with colleagues to examine the effectiveness of interventions that promote community adaptation and resilience among 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. In collaboration with colleagues and community stakeholders, my recent research has examined the impact of participatory public art in promoting resilience among low-income adults in recovery from mental illness or addiction, and in promoting community wellness in distressed, under-resourced urban neighborhoods. This community-based participatory research has been transdisciplinary because it has engaged mental health consumers, service providers, artists, city agencies, community members, funders, and researchers throughout the research process.

Prevention of adolescent substance use. My colleagues and I have also conducted community-based studies of adolescents at-risk for substance use and other problem behaviors. Initially, we examined the effectiveness of teaching school-based decision-making skills to urban, middle income adolescents and their parents so as to prevent adolescent substance use. The focus in this multi-year intervention in middle and high school was on peer resistance strategies within group contexts. 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. This revised curriculum was also incorporated into after school day activities in both academically-oriented and recreational settings with middle and early high school youth. Next, we developed a school-based mentoring intervention for urban, low-income high school youth. Although the focus of this intervention was involved both reducing risk and promoting protective factors, the primary goal was to prevent substance use. Each of these interventions were found to be successful in preventing use.

Integration of cultural approaches into practice, research, and policy. My scholarly and practice work has also sought to incorporate an understanding of culture -- broadly defined in terms of gender, race, ethnicity, social class, sexual orientation, religion, and ability status – into how services are designed and delivered, how research is conducted, and how policies are established for vulnerable populations. This research has often been combined with other areas of research interest – resilience promotion, adolescent substance abuse prevention, program or systems evaluation. Most recently, this work has led my colleagues and I to collaborate with an urban police department to train officers and command staff on issues of culture and diversity in the workplace and on the job.

Community research methodology, program evaluation, and philosophy of science. For many years, I have had an abiding interest in the philosophy of science and its implications for community research methodology and program evaluation. My work in these areas has focused on the philosophical roots of community research, mixed methods, and community psychology. These interests have also often intersected with my research on resilience, substance use prevention, and culture and diversity.

These interests have also enabled me to pursue a variety of professional roles: research collaborator with colleagues and various community stakeholders; consultant to national, state, and municipal agencies to promote data-driven decision making and evidence-based program development; trainer and coach to build program evaluation capacity in community agencies and public service systems; evaluator of state service systems and large-scale programs; and testifying expert on federal class action litigation through the use of rigorous evaluation research to inform judicial decisions and subsequent policy. These various roles have enabled me to blend research and practice, and have provided opportunities for teaching and mentoring postdoctoral and doctoral fellows as well as faculty.

Selected Publications

  • Tebes, J. K. (forthcoming). Foundations for a philosophy of science of community psychology: Perspectivism, pragmatism, feminism, and critical theory. In: M.A. Bond, C.B. Keys, & I. Seranno-Garcia (Eds.), Handbook of community psychology, Volume II: Methods of community psychology: Research & applications. American Psychological Association.
  • Iennaco, J., Tebes, J. K., & Jacobs, S. (forthcoming). Public health concepts in public psychiatry. In S. Jacobs & J. Steiner (Eds.). The Yale Textbook of Public Psychiatry. New York: Oxford University Press.
  • Thompson, A. B., Tebes, J. K., & McKee, S. A (2015). Gender differences in age of smoking initiation and its association with health. Addiction Theory & Research, Early Online: 1–8, DOI: 10.3109/16066359.2015.1022159.
  • Tebes, J. K., Thai, N. D., & Matlin, S. L. (2014). Twenty-first century science as a relational process: From Eureka! to team science and a place for community psychology. American Journal of Community Psychology, 53, 475-490.
  • Mohatt, N. V., Thompson, A. B., Thai, N. D., & Tebes, J. K. (2014). Historical trauma as public narrative: A conceptual review of how history impacts present-day health. Social Science & Medicine, 106, 128-136.
  • Tebes J.K., Kaufman JS, Connell C, Crusto, CA, & Thai, ND. (2014). Evaluation in prevention and health promotion. In: T Gugliotta & M Bloom (Eds). Encyclopedia of Primary Prevention and Health Promotion, 2nd Edition (pp. 69-101). NY: Springer.
  • Matlin, S. L., Evans, A. C., & Tebes, J. K. (2014). Beauty, connection, healing, and behavioral health: The role of public art in promoting wellness. In: Golden, J. & Mural Arts Associates (Eds). Mural Arts at 30: Growing Up, Growing Out, Putting Down Roots. (pp. 121-127). Philadelphia Mural Arts Program, Philadelphia, PA.
  • Huang, C. Y., Bory, C., Caron, C., Tebes, J. K., & Connell, C. M. (2014). Relationship of risk assessment to placement characteristics in a statewide child welfare population. Children and Youth Services Review, 46, 85-90.
  • Thompson, A.B., Tebes, J. K., McKee. S. A. (2013). Adult Smoking Initiation Is on the Rise in the US, But Among Whom? Smoking Initiation by Age, Race, and Gender From 2002 to 2010. Journal of Women’s Health, 22, 140.
  • Mohatt, N. V., Singer, J. B., Evans, A. C., Matlin, S. L., Golden, J., Harris, C., Siciliano, C., Kiernan, G., Pelleritti, M., & Tebes, J. K. (2013). A community’s response to suicide through public art: Stakeholder perspectives from the Finding the Light Within project. American Journal of Community Psychology, 52: 197-209.


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