Translating Evidence-based Interventions for ASD: Multi-Level Implementation Strategy


The purpose of this study is to test the effectiveness of the "Translating Evidence-based Interventions (EBI) for ASD: Multi-Level Implementation Strategy" (TEAMS) model on provider-level implementation outcomes when used to enhance provider training in two evidence-based interventions for children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). The TEAMS- Leadership Institute (TLI) module includes training to program/school district leaders in implementation of EBI, and the TEAMS Individualized Provider Strategy for Training (TIPS) module applies Motivational Interviewing strategies to facilitate individual provider behavior change. TEAMS will be tested in combination with two clinical interventions in two community service setting contexts (1) AIM HI intervention in mental health programs and (2) CPRT intervention in schools. It is expected that the addition of TLI and / or TIPS will improve use of EBI by community providers.

Full Title of Study: “Effectiveness of a Multi-Level Implementation Strategy for ASD Interventions”

Study Type

  • Study Type: Interventional
  • Study Design
    • Allocation: Randomized
    • Intervention Model: Parallel Assignment
    • Primary Purpose: Health Services Research
    • Masking: Single (Outcomes Assessor)
  • Study Primary Completion Date: August 2021

Detailed Description

Overview of Collaborative R01. The investigators propose to conduct two, coordinated studies testing the impact of the "Translating Evidence-based Interventions for ASD: A Multi-Level Implementation Strategy" (TEAMS). TEAMS focuses on improving implementation leadership, organizational climate (Teams Leadership Institute; TLI), and provider attitudes and engagement (TEAMS Individualized Provider Strategy for Training; TIPS) in order to improve two key implementation outcomes – ASD evidence-based intervention (EBI) fidelity, and subsequent child outcomes. The TLI module applies the LOCI ("Leadership and Organizational Change for Implementation") strategies, and the TIPS module applies MI (Motivational Interviewing) strategies to facilitate individual leader and provider level behavior change. These studies will use a randomized Hybrid implementation/effectiveness, Type 3, trial. Study #1 (PI: L Brookman-Frazee/UCSD) will test the TEAMS model with An Individualized Mental Health Intervention for ASD (AIM HI) in publicly-funded mental health services. Study #2 (PI: A Stahmer/UC Davis) will test TEAMS with Classroom Pivotal Response Teaching (CPRT) in school settings.

The Collaborative R01 mechanism will advance implementation science by allowing the research team to: 1) obtain a sufficient sample size to isolate the impact of individual and combined modules targeting different change mechanisms (implementation leadership/climate, attitudes); examine change mechanisms as mediators of outcomes; and provider background and organizational structure as moderators of outcomes; 2) enhance generalizability by testing TEAMS in combination with two clinical EBI in two public service systems critical for children with ASD; and maximize the diversity of the target population. Each site has unique expertise in one of the two EBI to be tested. The PIs have a strong history of collaboration and a clear management plan.

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) estimates that 1 in 68 children have ASD. Long term outcomes for this populations are poor and the annual cost in the US is estimated to be $268 billion. Research on the effectiveness of methods to scale up EBI in routine care is critical to meet this growing public health need. The efficacy of a growing number of ASD EBI has been established. Emerging data from AIM HI and CPRT studies support the overall effectiveness of ASD EBI for improving child outcomes only when providers complete training and deliver interventions with fidelity. Unfortunately, adoption and provider training outcomes, considered key implementation outcomes, are variable (e.g., up to 35% of providers in our studies either do not complete training or have poor fidelity). These findings are especially concerning given the link between fidelity and child outcomes and the rapid increase of large-scale usual care implementation of EBI with little attention to training completion or fidelity, even with well-established training and consultation methods. Therefore, testing methods of improving implementation outcomes is key to ensuring positive child-level outcomes when EBI are implemented in routine care.

AIM HI and CPRT data indicate that (1) implementation leadership/climate and (2) provider attitudes towards EBI are promising targets of implementation interventions. The roles of both factors have been indicated for broader patient populations and also in current AIM HI and CPRT projects. As such, the project will apply two, established interventions (LOCI, MI) in the TEAMS model to target these specific mechanisms of change. This study will test the impact of combining standard, EBI-specific training with the two TEAMS modules individually and together on multiple implementation outcomes. A dismantling design will be used to understand the effectiveness of TEAMS and the mechanisms of change across settings and participants. The specific aims and hypotheses are:

1. Test the effectiveness of the TEAMS modules individually and in combination on implementation outcomes when paired with two ASD EBI.

a) Compared to standard ASD EBI training (control) and individual TEAMS modules (LEAD or PROV), the full TEAMS model will lead to more positive implementation outcomes for providers (training completion, fidelity), and children (improvements in targeted symptoms).

2. Test the impact of TEAMS modules on organization and provider level mechanisms of change.

a) TEAMS-LEAD will increase use of implementation leadership strategies and TEAMS-PROV will lead to greater changes in provider attitudes and engagement in EBI training.

3. Identify moderators and mediators of implementation outcomes.

1. Identify provider and organization characteristics that moderate implementation outcomes; and

2. Identify provider and leader level mechanisms of change that mediate implementation outcomes.

Impact: This implementation intervention has the potential to increase quality of care for ASD by improving effectiveness of EBI implementation. The process and modules will be generalizable to multiple service systems, providers, and interventions, providing broad impact in mental health, educational and community services.


  • Behavioral: Teams Leadership Institute (TLI)
    • TLI is training for leaders in how to improve implementation of evidence-based interventions in community settings. TLI includes 5 key components : 1. Assessment: The Implementation Leadership Scale (ILS) and Implementation Climate Scale (ICS) will be completed by first-level leaders participating in the intervention, his/her subordinates (i.e. providers) and executive leaders. 2. Initial Training: a 3-hour didactic and interactive session that includes training in implementation leadership Leaders will develop a plan for using specific implementation support strategies. 3. Coaching: Weekly, brief (15-30 min) coaching calls keep leaders on track with goals and plans. Coaching includes review of progress toward goals, updating plan based on emergent issues, and problem solving. 4. Follow up : At month 4, leaders attend a 2-hour booster session . 5. Graduation: TLI programs will have a group-based graduation for the leaders and provider trainees at EBI training completion.
  • Behavioral: Motivational Enhancement (TIPS for Training)
    • The TIPS module applies MI principles and strategies to address attitudinal barriers and improve engagement in training. I AIM HI and CPRT trainers (in the TIPS Conditions ) will incorporate MI during training and ongoing consultation/coaching with providers to increase provider engagement and problem solving throughout training: 1. Providers will receive a call designed to provide information about training and the intervention. 2. During the workshop, trainers will assess concerns about participating and will use reflective problem solving to address barriers . Trainers will work with the provider to develop a plan through the use of Planning Worksheets . 3. During each consultation , planning worksheets will be updated collaboratively with the provider. 4. Providers will receive a weekly motivational text to encourage on-going participation.
  • Behavioral: Classroom Pivotal Response Teaching (CPRT)
    • CPRT is a naturalistic behavioral intervention adapted from pivotal response training (PRT) for use during classroom activities to target social, communication, behavior, and learning skills. CPRT is a manualized program with user-friendly materials for training, intervention planning and fidelity monitoring provided in printed and web-based formats. CPRT has an established training plan and the training curriculum that follows the manual. Training and coaching including standard EBI training is conducted by MA or postdoctoral level researchers with extensive training and experience with CPRT.
  • Behavioral: An Individualized Mental Health Intervention for ASD (AIM HI)
    • A package of well-established, evidence-based behavioral strategies designed to reduce challenging behaviors in children served in MH service settings. AIM HI is a manualized program with user-friendly materials for training, intervention planning and fidelity monitoring provided in printed and web-based formats. AIM HI is a package of evidence-based parent-mediated and child focused strategies, designed to reduce behavior problems in children with ASD ages 5 to 13 served in MH programs. AIM HI has an established training plan and the training curriculum follows the manual. Training and coaching is conducted by MA or postdoctoral level researchers with extensive training and experience with AIM HI.

Arms, Groups and Cohorts

  • Active Comparator: Standard
    • Programs assigned to the Standard condition will receive standard EBI training only
  • Experimental: TEAMS Leadership Institute (TLI) ONLY
    • Programs assigned to the TLI ONLY condition will receive standard EBI training for providers and leaders will participate in TLI.
  • Experimental: Motivational Enhancement (TIPS for Training) ONLY
    • Programs assigned to the TIPS ONLY condition will receive enhanced TIPS EBI training for providers.
  • Experimental: TIPS + TLI
    • Programs assigned to the TIPS + TLI condition will receive TIPS EBI training for providers and leaders will participate in TLI

Clinical Trial Outcome Measures

Primary Measures

  • Provider Training Completion / Certification
    • Time Frame: Certification will be determine at POST training (6 mos)
    • Provider training/consultation completion will be measured through completion of requirements for certification, including attendance at workshops and training, completion of appropriate planning tools to program standards and meeting trainer rated fidelity of implementation standards.

Secondary Measures

  • Child Improvements on The Eyberg Child Behavior Inventory (ECBI)
    • Time Frame: Child measures will be rated at PRE (intake) and POST intervention (6 mos)
    • The ECBI is a 36 item paper-and-pencil rating scales completed by parents that assesses the severity of conduct problems in children as well as the extent to which parents find the behaviors troublesome. It assesses the frequency of disruptive behaviors occurring in the home setting. It provides an Intensity Raw Score and a Problem Raw Score. Internal consistency reliability (Cronbach’s alpha): .95 for the Intensity scale and .93 for the Problem scale; (2) Test-retest reliability: .75 to .86 for the Intensity scale and .75 to .88 for the Problem scale; (3) Inter-rater reliability: .86 for the Intensity scale and .79 for the Problem scale.
  • Child Improvements on the PDD Behavior Inventory, Parent Extended Version (PDDBI-PX)
    • Time Frame: Child measures will be rated with the target child at PRE (intake) and POST intervention (6 mos)
    • PDDBI-PX is a 188-item, paper-and-pencil rating scale completed by parents designed to assess symptoms of autism spectrum disorder and responsiveness to intervention in children. Subscales measure maladaptive (sensory/perceptual approach behaviors; fears; arousal problems; aggressiveness /behavior problems; social pragmatic problems) and adaptive behaviors (social approach; learning, memory and receptive language; phonological skills; pragmatic ability). Domain, composite, and total autism scores are provided. (1) Internal consistency reliability (Cronbach’s alpha): ranged from .79 to .97 for all subscales; (2) Test-retest reliability: ranged from .38 to .91 over a 12-month interval; (3) Inter-rater reliability: Parent-Teacher ranged from .55-.67.

Participating in This Clinical Trial

The combined multi-level sample for both studies will include 74 programs/districts, 148 agency/district leaders, 590 providers (average of 8 per program/district) and 590 parents (1 per provider). It is estimated that an additional 590 participants will complete the 360 Organizational Assessment. Providers are expected to be approximately 85% female and 35% Hispanic. Parent participants are expected to be approximately 80% female and 60% Hispanic.

Mental health programs will be those providing publicly funded psychotherapy services to children in San Diego, Sacramento and LA Counties for in person training and throughout California for distance training. Districts will be those providing public education services to elementary school children with ASD in San Diego, Sacramento and LA Counties for in person training and throughout California for distance training.

Inclusion Criteria for Leaders

(1) Identified as Program Managers at an enrolled site or identified as Program Specialist in an enrolled program/district

Inclusion Criteria for Providers

1. Employed at a participating program/district

2. Employed for at least the next 7 months

3. Has an eligible child on current caseload/classroom (see below)

4. Did not participate in the AIM HI or CPRT effectiveness studies

Inclusion Criteria for Parent Participants (enrolled in a dyad with participating provider)

1. Has a child age 3-13 years.

2. Has a child with a current ASD diagnosis on record or a primary educational classification of autism as indicated in school records

Inclusion Criteria for 360 degree Organizational Assessment

1. Identified as a leader or provider at enrolled site

2. Linked to a participant leader (either as a supervisor or direct report)

Gender Eligibility: All

Minimum Age: 18 Years

Maximum Age: N/A

Are Healthy Volunteers Accepted: Accepts Healthy Volunteers

Investigator Details

  • Lead Sponsor
    • University of California, Davis
  • Collaborator
    • University of California, San Diego
  • Provider of Information About this Clinical Study
    • Sponsor
  • Overall Contact(s)
    • Aubyn C Stahmer, PhD, 9167030254,

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