ROST: Raising Our Spirits Together

Principal Investigator: Addie Weaver, PhD
Raising Our Spirits Together is funded by the National Institute of Mental Health via a Mentored Research Scientist Career Development Award (A. Weaver, PI). This award supports Dr. Weaver’s career development as an independent mental health services and intervention researcher who adapts, develops, and tests evidence-based practices (EBPs) that are accessible, acceptable, feasible, and sustainable in rural communities.

Rural populations in America experience depression at rates similar to their urban counterparts; yet are significantly less likely to receive treatment. The lack of mental health professionals, practical barriers such as transportation and cost, as well as stigma and a preference for informal care contribute to this disparity. Further research is necessary to adapt EBPs for depression in ways that reduce known barriers to care and align with rural residents’ understanding of mental illness and treatment.

Dr. Weaver is engaging in mentored training and research activities that will prepare her to successfully adapt and test EBPs to be context-specific and for delivery in non-mental health settings; reduce barriers to care typically faced by rural consumers; and contribute theoretical and applied knowledge to social work, a discipline concerned with the mental health and well-being of vulnerable populations. This project will allow Dr. Weaver to (1) increase her knowledge of intervention research design and quantitative analysis; (2) enhance her knowledge of community-based participatory research (CPBR) methods as they relate to acceptable, sustainable adaptation and implementation of mental health interventions in non-mental health settings; (3) develop expertise in implementation science and research; and (4) build upon her clinical background with enhanced training in EBPs for depression and anxiety that supports her ability to assess and monitor fidelity and train interventionists.

All four career development goals are infused with relevant rural-focused content to increase her understanding of rural persons’ perceptions of mental health treatment and acquire knowledge of intervention and implementation strategies to successfully deliver acceptable, sustainable interventions in rural communities. The goals will be achieved through a rigorous training plan that includes coursework at the University of Michigan’s (UM) top-ranked School of Social Work, Public Health, and Medicine; targeted off-site training and attendance at national conferences; state-of-the-art clinical training through the UM Department of Psychiatry; as well as outstanding mentorship from leaders in the fields of mental health intervention and implementation research; depression and anxiety; and cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT).

Dr. Weaver’s training goals will be further supported through her execution of mentored research, which utilizes a community-based approach to (1) adapt group CBT for depression to be context-specific for rural populations and for delivery in the church setting that offers a non-stigmatizing, cost free intervention site proximal to consumers and conduct an open pilot test of the adapted intervention; (2) conduct a pilot randomized controlled trial (RCT) to assess the intervention’s preliminary effect on depression and explore the relationship between potential mechanisms of change and expected outcomes; and (3) explore intervention acceptability and feasibility using mixed methods to assess multiple stakeholders perceptions and experiences with the intervention and its implementation. Dr. Weaver’s mentorship team includes primary sponsor Dr. Joseph Himle; co-sponsors Dr. Deborah Bybee, Dr. Amy Kilbourne, and Dr. Marcia Valenstein.

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