Research Projects

My research focuses on identifying and evaluating innovative and actionable strategies for supporting student mental health and promoting mental health equity. 

Our team works toward this goal through three lines of research: 

You can find more information about these lines of research and our current or recent projects in the sections below.

Improving Universal Mental Health Screening Measures & Processes

Systematic assessment processes, like universal mental health screening (UMHS), that identify school-level and individual student needs are foundational for guiding service provision within MTSS and, ultimately, for reducing gaps in access to care. 

In addition to conducting fundamental research to evaluate the psychometric properties of rating scales for use in UMHS (e.g., Moore, Dowdy, Fleury, et al., 2022; Moore et al., 2017) and evaluating methods for classifying youths’ mental health (Moore et al., 2019a, b), my colleagues and I have delineated contemporary frameworks for UMHS that are strength-based (Moore et al., 2015) and equity-centered (Moore et al., 2023). 

Universal Mental Health Screening of Children and Youth: A Landscape Analysis for the Mental Health Services Oversight and Accountability Commission

In collaboration with colleagues from University of California San Francisco and WestEd, our team is synthesizing research on UMHS and conducting a landscape analysis to understand UMHS policies and practices for children and youth in California. Results of a literature review, statewide survey, and community engagement activiteis (e.g., listening sessions, public meetings, interviews) will be summarized in a report to be submitted to the Commission and CA legislature. To learn more about this work, visit the Commision's project webpage.

Phase 1 Literature Review Report

A Systematic Review of Universal Screening Measures for Social, Emotional, and Behavioral Strengths and Concerns

The primary aim of this sytematic review of the universal screening literature (2000 2022) is to describe the state of the available social-emotional and/or behavioral screening tools for PreK-grade 12 populations. Specifically, our multi-university team is working to summarize the status of the psychometric evidence of available tools and is investigating the extent to which there is evidence that these tools are appropraite for use with historically marginalized and racially/ethnically minoritized student populations. 

Reducing the Research to Practice Gap in School Mental Health

Alarming rates of mental health concerns among children and adolescents in the U.S., coupled with a discrepancy between the number of young people who need versus receive access to high-quality care, have resulted in urgent calls to “identify strategies to meet these challenges through innovation and action” (American Academy of Pediatrics et al., 2021, para. 3). As a primary mental health service setting, school-based multi-tiered systems of support (MTSS) increase access to services that can improve student mental health and learning outcomes. School psychology researchers have developed and investigated a wide range of evidence-based practices (EBPs) to support students’ social, emotional, behavioral, and mental health across MTSS tiers (Sanetti & Collier-Meek, 2019). 

These EBPs, however, are rarely successfully installed in practice, reflecting a well-established gap between what has been shown to be effective and what is ultimately implemented by educators and school psychologists. My work leverages implementation science to strategically bridge these gaps. 

Implementation of Universal Mental Health Screening

My initial work in this area documented positive perceptions of the acceptability and appropriateness of UMHS but concerns about feasibility—signaling that factors beyond attitudes may be driving the limited use of UMHS (Moore, Dowdy, Hinton, et al., 2022). Current, grant-funded projects expand upon this preliminary research. 

Working to Increase the Implementation of School-Based Universal Mental Health Screening

This mixed methods study examined implementation of social, emotional, behavioral screening practices in schools and districts in CA. We sought to: 

Participants included 30 individuals involved in the implementation of SEB screening in their schools or districts in California who completed a 20-minute survey and 30-45 minute individual interview. 

This work is funded by a University of California Regents Facutly Fellowship. 

With support of Project Cal-Well, our team developed a Research Brief summarizing key findings. Ongoing data analysis will inform a future publication. 

Implementation Strategies to Address Barriers to Universal Mental Health Screening: An Expert Panel Study

Implementation of universal mental health screening (UMHS) to systematically identify and refer students with mental health needs is a core feature of multi-tiered systems of support (MTSS) and critical for closing the gap in access to care. Despite increasing adoption of MTSS, numerous available measures, and a clear need, UMHS implementation has lagged. Using established expert panel methods, this study will identify school-based implementation strategies that address barriers specific to UMHS implementation. Three expert panels (school staff/mental health providers; school leaders; UMHS researchers) will complete two-rounds of modified Delphi surveys. Afterwards, a subset of experts will complete interviews to develop hypotheses about how strategies operate. Results will provide data on the strategies prioritized by experts to address UMHS-specific barriers, and propose potential mechanisms of strategy effectiveness. 

Expert panel data collection concluding Summer 2024. Follow-up interviews will be conducted in Fall 2024.

This work is funded by an Early Career Scholar Award from the Society for the Study of School Psychology. 

School Mental Health and School Psychological Service Delivery

In my work, I also foucus on understanding factors affecting school-based service delivery and on identifying strategies to improve the uptake of effective practices. 

Core Components and Implementation Determinants of Multi-Level Service Delivery Frameworks

Multilevel service delivery frameworks are approaches to structuring and organizing a spectrum of evidence-based services and supports, focused on assessment, prevention, and intervention designed for the local context. Exemplar frameworks in child mental health include positive behavioral interventions and supports in education, collaborative care in primary care, and systems of care in community mental health settings. This work proposed a conceptual foundation for multilevel service delivery frameworks spanning diverse mental health service settings that can inform development of strategic implementation supports. We identified core components of these frameworks that span child mental health service settings as well as implementation determinants that interface with each component. 

The conceptual foundation we provide has the potential to facilitate cross-sector knowledge sharing, promote generalization across service settings, and provide direction for researchers, system leaders, and implementation intermediaries/practitioners working to strategically support the high-quality implementation of these frameworks. For more information, see Moore et al. (2024)

Investigating the Organizational Implemenation Context for School-Based Service Delivery

Although implementation theories underscore the importance of an organization’s context (culture, climate, leadership) in affecting implementation success, these factors have received scant attention in schools. In two studies, my colleagues and I examined school leader's perceptions of the organizational context for evidence-based practice implementation. 

Moore et al. (2021) examined the organizational context for implementationa cross general and special education settings. We found variability in leaders’ perceptions based on their role and leadership behaviors, signaling that organizational- and leadership-focused supports may be pertinent for improving school-based practice.

In another study (Moore et al., 2024), we sought to understand factors that support or hinder teachers in doing interventions, especially for students receiving special education, and to determine which implementation strategies school leaers think are the most important and feasible in schools. 

Together, findings indicated that organizational- and leadership-focused supports may be pertinent for improving school-based practice. 

Specifying and Reporting Implementation Strategies Used in a School-Based Prevention Efficacy Trial

Intervention development and testing often occurs separately from implementation planning. However, evaluating an intervention without considering how it will be used in real-world settings contributes to the research-to-practice gap. During the rigorous testing of interventions, research teams invest significant effort and resources to ensure their program is delivered as intended and so that beneficial outcomes can be assessed. However, the methods or techniques used to support implementation (i.e., implementation strategies) are often not measured or specified to be used and evaluated during later research or included with intervention materials that are distributed to stakeholders; this is a missed opportunity. 

Moore, Arnold, et al. (2021) identified and described the implementation strategies used during a large school-based research trial of a universal trauma-informed prevention program delivered by a university research team, community members, and school staff. This study demonstrated the importance of identifying and tracking implementation strategy use during the early stages of intervention research to facilitate the translational research process, such as by designing interventions with future implementation in mind. 

Contextual Risk and Protective Factors of Student Mental Health

The environments in which young people develop and learn can promote or hinder their mental health and wellness. In my work, I also focus on contextual risk and protective factors (e.g., school or neighborhood climate) that affect well-being. Importantly, these factors must also be considered alongside universal mental health screening data to inform holistic service provision. For example, Moore, Ouelette, & Connors (2023) merged secondary data from four sources to examine the relation between school and neighborhood characteristics with elementary students’ perceptions of their school’s climate in a large, urban public school district. Findings signaled the potential for positive school climates to buffer against neighborhood risks. In another study, we identified patterns of teacher-student interactional quality in middle school classrooms as well as teacher, classroom, and school characteristics associated with interactional quality patterns (Camacho et al., 2022). 

In future work, I plan to further investigate the relation between school climate and students' dual-factor mental health and perceptions of their school's climate for mental health supports.