Behavioral Parent Training - Common behavior problems of childhood frequently evolve into more serious disorders at later stages in development if left untreated. With young children, the most effective and evidence-based interventions involve teaching parents as intermediate treatment agents. Research studies in this area examine methods to educate parents in techniques and procedures for managing non-compliance and related disruptive behaviors in at-risk children and adolescents.
Pediatric Sleep Disorders – Children and adolescents with sleep disorders present significant problems for parents and families. Sleep terrors, insomnia, nightmares, distorted sleep cycles, sleeping with parents and inability to fall asleep on one’s own all present behavioral difficulties and can evolve into more severe disorders. Research on sleep problems is conducted jointly with the faculty of the Department of Pediatrics and the Sleep Laboratory at Children’s Hospital and Medical Center.
Academic Evaluation and Intervention for Children with Disabilities – Children with learning problems are often referred to MMI by parents, physicians, and clinicians. The Academic Interventions program is an applied research clinic jointly conducted by MMI and the graduate training program in School Psychology at the University of Nebraska at Omaha. Research focuses on the development of academic skills assessment procedures that lead to effective academic interventions for children with disabilities. Research is also conducted on developing and evaluating effective academic interventions for children with disabilities.
Pain and Stress Related Disorders – Pain and stress in children with acute or chronic illnesses can be a major source of anxiety for parents. Migraine headaches, recurrent abdominal pain, and joint pain can have impact on a child, his/her schooling and overall family functioning. Additionally, children with developmental and/or behavioral disorders frequently have significant problems in responding to perceived painful procedures such as dental examinations and treatments. Research is conducted in the MMI Psychology Department on methods (e.g., biofeedback) to reduce chronic pain (e.g., migraine headaches, etc.) and to manage distress associated with medical and dental procedures.
Diabetes and Medical Compliance Behaviors – Adolescents and young adults with chronic conditions such as diabetes often develop physical complications due to lack of compliance with their medical regimens such as involved in testing of blood sugar levels, dietary maintenance, and consistency in insulin dosing. Current research interests revolve around developing a clinic computer program to help young adults with diabetes learn how to count carbohydrates in a meal more accurately. A second research project focuses on improving communication within families in which at least member has type 1 diabetes. The focus of the treatment is to produce consensus within the family regarding who is responsible for the various aspects of treatment while treatment responsibility is being transferred from the adult to the child who has diabetes.
Integration of Behavioral Health into Primary Health Care - Since nearly one quarter of all pediatric visits involve behavioral health issues, applied research is conducted by MMI faculty into the most common concerns being raised by parents and schools during pediatric visits. Reasons for referral, diagnoses, use of medications, medical compliance, and patient outcomes are studied as related to effectiveness of integrated behavioral health services and the dissemination potential of the model program developed at MMI. Research is also conducted into procedures for integrating behavioral health services into primary health care practices by members of the MMI Psychology and Social Work Departments. Research studies have addressed physician reimbursement rates comparing integrated vs. non-integrated practices across a series of dimensions including accessibility, frequency of usage, and the economics of having behavioral health professionals as part of the primary care practice.
The efforts of faculty, students, and staff annually produces 25-30 publications in professional journals.