Desktop News | April 2023
Dr. Susan White, a professor and Doddridge Saxon Chair in Clinical Psychology at The University of Alabama, is a Principal Investigator on a research project who has been awarded a $4 million grant from the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI).
The grant will fund a study aimed at testing the effectiveness of a psychosocial treatment designed to target emotion dysregulation in autistic adolescents and adults. The study will compare this treatment against a well-established transdiagnostic treatment that was not specifically developed for autism, with the goal of determining which intervention is more effective and more likely to be successfully implemented.
“You can have a highly effective intervention that can’t readily be disseminated into wide scale community use, and that doesn’t do anybody much good,” said White. “Ensuring that the program can be scalable and disseminated into community practice is a central goal of the project.”
The four-year study will start in the summer of 2023 and is a hybrid trial, combining implementation science and effectiveness research. It will partner with 10 community agencies across Alabama and Pennsylvania, where the interventions will be implemented. The aim is to treat emotional dysregulation, which is a common issue among autistic adolescents and adults. Dr. White, along with Principal Investigator Carla Mazefsky of the University of Pittsburgh, believes that by treating the underlying emotion regulation problems, they can increase awareness of affective state and provide tools for managing it.
“We believe, based on our past research, that the intervention will also decrease suicide risk,” said White. “People who have ASD are at an increased risk of self-harm and suicide.”
The researchers hope to decrease the suffering caused by secondary psychiatric problems commonly diagnosed in this population and improve their quality of life, autonomy, independence and overall functioning.
To learn more about the grant or the research, please visit https://www.pcori.org/research-results/2023/emotion-awareness-and-skills-enhancement-ease-program-versus-unified-protocol