Development and evaluation of a remote training strategy for the implementation of mental health evidence-based practices in rural schools: pilot study protocol

Pilot Feasibility Stud. 2022 Jun 17;8(1):128. doi: 10.1186/s40814-022-01082-4.


Background: An increasing number of schools in rural settings are implementing multi-tier positive behavioral interventions and supports (PBIS) to address school-climate problems. PBIS can be used to provide the framework for the implementation of evidence-based practices (EBPs) to address children's mental health concerns. Given the large service disparities for children in rural areas, offering EBPs through PBIS can improve access and lead to better long-term outcomes. A key challenge is that school personnel need technical assistance in order to implement EBPs with fidelity and clinical effectiveness. Providing ongoing on-site support is not feasible or sustainable in the majority of rural schools, due to their remote physical location. For this reason, remote training technology has been recommended for providing technical assistance to behavioral health staff (BHS) in under-served rural communities.

Objectives: The purpose of this study is to use the user-centered design, guided by an iterative process (rapid prototyping), to develop and evaluate the appropriateness, feasibility, acceptability, usability, and preliminary student outcomes of two online training strategies for the implementation of EBPs at PBIS Tier 2.

Methods: The study will employ a pragmatic design comprised of a mixed-methods approach for the development of the training platform, and a hybrid type 2, pilot randomized controlled trial to examine the implementation and student outcomes of two training strategies: Remote Video vs. Remote Video plus Coaching.

Discussion: There is a clear need for well-designed remote training studies focused on training in non-traditional settings. Given the lack of well-trained mental health professionals in rural settings and the stark disparities in access to services, the development and pilot-testing of a remote training strategy for BHS in under-served rural schools could have a significant public health impact.

Ethics and dissemination: The project was reviewed and approved by the institutional review board. Results will be submitted to and disseminated to community partners and participants, peer-reviewed journals, and academic conferences.

Trial registration:, NCT05034198 and NCT05039164.

Keywords: Mental health evidence-based practices; Positive behavioral interventions and supports; Rural schools; Tier 2; User-centered design.

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