Methodological and Practical Issues in Population Based Programming: Incidence, Engagement, Penetration & Outreach Effectiveness

By their nature, first episode programs involve a number of challenging methodological issues that differ from traditional programming. First, these programs must identify individuals who may not be known to the specialty behavioral health system and then engage them in a program of care and support. Understanding the effectiveness of the program in meeting the needs of these ‘unidentified’ individuals requires estimates of the incidence of first episode events. These estimates must be derived from the epidemiological literature based on the characteristics of the population in the service area. Second public education and outreach efforts must be launched targeting the various venues where individuals are likely to be seen. These include parents, educators, police officers, hospitals and primary care settings among others. Monitoring the effectiveness of these outreach efforts and better targeting educational materials involves ongoing monitoring of the referral network. Engaging young adults in a program of care may involve multiple outreach efforts to reluctant potential enrollees and crafting a program that comports with their goals and needs. Monitoring and supporting these outreach efforts prior to formal enrollment may involve other information challenges. Clearly, first episode programs involve a distinct set of methodological issue that differ from most traditional program evaluation efforts. In this webinar we will provide examples from two efforts that have developed methods to respond to these issues – one in Ohio and another in Connecticut. Each presentation will highlight the ways in which they conceptualized the problems, the materials that they developed to address these challenges and insights from these efforts regarding how best to effectively implement information support for first episode programming.