Home Visiting Effects on Breastfeeding and Bedsharing in a Low-Income Sample

Mersky, J. P., Janczewski, C.E., Plummer Lee, C., Gilbert, R.M., McAtee, C., and Yasin, T. (2020). Research suggests that home visiting interventions can promote breastfeeding initiation, though their effects on breastfeeding continuation are unclear. No known studies have assessed the impact of home visiting on bedsharing. This study aims to test the effects of home visiting on breastfeeding and bedsharing in a low-income, urban sample in the United States.

Translating and Implementing Evidence-Based Mental Health Services in Child Welfare

Mersky, J.P., Topitzes, J., Janczewski, C.E., Plummer Lee, C., McGaughey, G., & McNeil, C.B. (2020). Children in the child welfare system with mental health difficulties seldom receive evidence-based treatment (EBT) despite the abundance of validated interventions that exist. This manuscript describes two projects aimed at increasing access to EBTs. The first is a completed field trial of an adapted parent–child interaction therapy intervention with foster-parent child dyads…

Trauma-responsive child welfare services: A mixed methods study assessing safety, stability and permanency

Topitzes, J., Grove, T., Pangratz, S, Meyer, E. E., & Sprague, C. M. (2019). Trauma-informed or trauma-responsive programming has spread across many service sectors including child welfare. However, only a few evaluations of such child welfare programs have been published. The current mixed methods study assessed a trauma-responsive child welfare program implemented within a private agency located in the Midwest region of the U.S. The intervention combined specialized training, assessment, case planning, and case consultation into a trauma-responsive case management model…

Brief, group-based parent-child interaction therapy: Examination of treatment attrition, non-adherence, and non-response

Blair, K., Topitzes, J., & Mersky, J. P. (2019). Parent-Child Interaction Therapy (PCIT) has been shown to reduce challenging child behavior and improve parenting skills, yet treatment attrition, non-adherence and non-response remain matters of concern. This study analyzes rates and factors associated with attrition, non-adherence, and non-response using data from a randomized controlled trial of foster parent-child dyads who received brief, group-based PCIT…

Implementing Trauma Screening, Brief Intervention, and Referral to Treatment (T‐SBIRT) within employment services: A feasibility trial

Topitzes, J., Mersky, J. P., Mueller, D. J., Bacalso, E., & Williams, C. (2019). Implementing Trauma Screening, Brief Intervention, and Referral to Treatment (T‐SBIRT) within employment services: A feasibility trial. Research suggests that low‐income adults accessing employment services have experienced high levels of trauma exposure and associated consequences. Moreover, the health‐related effects of trauma undermine employment and employability. A trauma‐informed protocol—trauma screening, brief intervention, and referral to treatment or T‐SBIRT—was therefore implemented within employment service programs serving low‐income urban residents…

Applied and translational research on trauma-responsive programs and policy: Introduction to a special issue of the American Journal of Community Psychology

Herrenkohl, T. I., Mersky, J. P., & Topitzes, J. (2019). Applied and translational research on trauma-responsive programs and policy: Introduction to a special issue of the American Journal of Community Psychology. The special issue highlights work across systems that include child welfare, education, juvenile justice and health, as well as agencies serving adults who are at‐risk for high levels of childhood and adult trauma exposure. While articles appearing in the special issue are not divided equally across these systems, they cover important and overlapping concepts within each…

Promoting evidence-based, trauma-informed social work practice

Mersky, J. P., Topitzes, J., & Britz, L. (2019). Given the human costs of psychological trauma, social workers should be well versed in trauma-informed care (TIC). This framework helps guide the efforts of systems, organizations, and practitioners toward reducing trauma or mitigating its effects…

Client and provider discomfort with an adverse childhood experiences survey

Mersky, J. P., Plummer Lee, C., & Gilbert, R. M. (2019). Many service providers report concerns that questions about adverse events may upset clients. Studies indicate that most survey respondents answer sensitive questions without experiencing distress, although little is known about the prevalence or correlates of clients’ discomfort when they are asked similar questions by direct care providers, such as home visitors…

Do parents’ adverse childhood experiences influence treatment responses to Parent-Child Interaction Therapy? An exploratory study with a child welfare sample

Blair, K., Topitzes, J., & Mersky, J. P. (2019). This exploratory study of 23 parent–child dyads receiving child welfare services examined the association between the number of adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) parents reported and their children’s externalizing behaviors. We also assessed whether the effects of Parent-Child Interaction Therapy (PCIT) on externalizing behaviors varied by parents’ ACE histories…

Those who disappear and those who say goodbye: Patterns of attrition in long-term home visiting

Janczewski, C. E., Mersky, J. P., & Brondino, M. J. (2019). Most evidence-based home visiting models are designed to support families from pregnancy through a child’s second birthday, though programs often struggle to retain families for this long. Previous research on client and program factors that predict attrition has produced mixed results, which may be partly because attrition is typically conceptualized as a homogeneous phenomenon…

Adverse childhood experiences and postpartum depression in home visiting programs: Prevalence, association, and mediating mechanisms

Mersky, J. P., & Janczewski, C. E. (2018). Adverse childhood experiences and postpartum depression in home visiting programs: Prevalence, association, and mediating mechanisms. Maternal and Child Health Journal. Objectives In this study, we examined the prevalence of postpartum depression (PPD) and its association with select demographic factors and antenatal conditions. We also investigated whether greater exposure to adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) is associated with PPD, and if antenatal conditions mediate the ACE-PPD relationship…

Mediational pathways of meditation and exercise on mental health and perceived stress: A randomized controlled trial. Journal of Health Psychology

Goldstein E, Topitzes J, Brown RL, et al. (2018). This study investigated the effects of mindfulness and exercise training on indicators of mental health and stress by examining shared mediators of program effects. Community-recruited adults, (N = 413), were randomized into one of three conditions: (a) mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR), (b) moderate intensity exercise, or (c) wait-list control.

Racial and Ethnic Differences in the Prevalence of Adverse Childhood Experiences: Findings from a Low-Income Sample of U.S. Women

Mersky, J. P., Janczewski, C. E. (2018). Racial and Ethnic Differences in the Prevalence of Adverse Childhood Experiences: Findings from a Low-Income Sample of U.S. Women. Child Abuse and Neglect.

Despite great interest in adverse childhood experiences (ACEs), there has been limited research on racial and ethnic differences in their prevalence. Prior research in the United States suggests that the prevalence of ACEs varies along socioeconomic lines, but it is …

Translating Evidence-Based Treatments into Child Welfare Services Through Community-University Partnerships: A Case Example of Parent-Child Interaction Therapy

Mersky, J. P., Topitzes, J., & Blair, K. (2017). Children served by the child welfare system count among society’s most vulnerable members given their history of abuse, neglect, and other potentially traumatic experiences. Once they enter the system, however, these children seldom receive empirically validated interventions to mitigate the effects of trauma. This article highlights the promise of parent-child interaction therapy (PCIT), an evidence-based treatment (EBT) for trauma-exposed children in the child welfare system…

Complementing SBIRT for Alcohol Misuse with SBIRT for Trauma: A Feasibility Study

Topitzes, J., Berger, L., Otto-Salaj, L., Mersky, J.P., Weeks, F., Ford, J. (2017). Reducing alcohol misuse is a priority for U.S. health officials considering that misuse of alcohol is a leading preventable cause of morbidity and mortality. Consequently, health centers are routinely integrating Screening, Brief Intervention, and Referral to Treatment (SBIRT) for alcohol misuse within usual care. Although SBIRT is well validated among general patient samples, results have not generalized to drinkers …

Adult Resilience Among Maltreated Children: A Prospective Investigation of Main Effect and Mediating Models

Topitzes, J., Mersky, J.P., Dezen, K., Reynolds, A. (2013). Adult resilience among maltreated children: A prospective investigation of main effect and mediating models. Children and Youth Services Review.
Studies examining resilience to child maltreatment reveal that maltreatment victims can achieve adaptive functioning in several areas of development; however, few of these individuals persistently demonstrate resilience across multiple domains. The…

From Child Maltreatment to Violent Offending: An Examination of Mixed-Gender and Gender-Specific Models

Topitzes, J., Mersky, J.P., Reynolds, A. (2012). From child maltreatment to violent offending: An examination of mixed-gender and gender-specific models. Journal of Interpersonal Violence.
Research suggests that child maltreatment predicts juvenile violence, but it is uncertain whether the effects of victimization persist into adulthood or differ across gender. Furthermore, we know little about the mechanisms underlying the victim…

Unsafe at Any Age: Linking Childhood and Adolescent Maltreatment to Delinquency and Crime

Mersky, J.P., Topitzes, J., Reynolds, A. (2011). Unsafe at any age: linking childhood and adolescent maltreatment to delinquency and crime. Journal of Research in Crime and Delinquency.
This study compares the effects of childhood maltreatment and adolescent maltreatment on delinquency and crime, including violent and nonviolent offending. Data were derived from the Chicago Longitudinal Study, a prospective investigatio…

Comparing Early Adult Outcomes of Maltreated and Non-Maltreated Children: A Prospective Longitudinal Investigation

Mersky, J.P., Topitzes, J. (2010). Comparing early adult outcomes of maltreated and non-maltreated children: A prospective longitudinal investigation. Children and Youth Services Review.
Using prospective data from the Chicago Longitudinal Study, this investigation examined associations between child maltreatment and an array of outcomes in early adulthood. Findings from bivariate and multivariate analyses indicated that…

Risk Factors for Child and Adolescent Maltreatment

Mersky, J.P., Berger, L., Reynolds, A., Gromoske, A. (2009). This study investigates associations between individual, family, and extrafamilial factors and the likelihood of subsequent childhood and adolescent maltreatment. The authors analyzed 1,411 participants in the Chicago Longitudinal Study whose…

Chronic Neglect: Prediction and Prevention

Mersky, J.P., Topitzes, J., Reynolds, A. (2009). In 2006, more than 60% of verified child maltreatment victims in the United States experienced child neglect, exceeding the official rates of all other maltreatment types combined (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services [USDHHS], 200…