Hybrid type 1 randomized controlled trial of a tablet-based application to improve quality of care in child mental health treatment

Contemp Clin Trials. 2020 Jul:94:106010. doi: 10.1016/j.cct.2020.106010. Epub 2020 Apr 19.


The quality of child mental health care is highly variable in community practice settings. Innovative technology-based solutions may be leveraged to improve quality of care and, in turn, treatment outcomes. This is a protocol paper that describes an innovative study design in which we rigorously evaluate the effectiveness of a tablet-assisted intervention, Supporting Providers and Reaching Kids (SPARK). SPARK consists of a collection of interactive games and activities that are designed to improve provider fidelity and child engagement in evidence-based psychotherapies. The methodology also allows us to explore the implementation and sustainability of a technology-enhanced intervention in more than two dozen community practice settings. This paper includes a description and justification for sample selection and recruitment procedures, selection of assessment measures and methods, design of the intervention, and statistical evaluation of critical outcomes. Novel features of the design include the tablet-based toolkit approach that has strong applicability to a range of child mental health interventions and the use of a hybrid type 1 effectiveness-implementation trial that allows for the simultaneous investigation of the effectiveness of the intervention and the implementation context. Challenges related to the implementation of a technology-enhanced intervention in existing mental health clinics are discussed, as well as implications for future research and practice.

Keywords: Child mental health; Hybrid type 1 trial; Mobile health; Technology; Traumatic stress.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Family
  • Humans
  • Mental Health*
  • Psychotherapy*
  • Research Design
  • Treatment Outcome