Evaluating Dissemination Strategies for habit Reversal Training: Initial Development and Testing of a Telehealth Approach

Grant Type
Grant Year
Institution Location
Institution Organization Name
University of North Dakota
Investigators Name
Himle, Michael, PhD

There is considerable evidence that behavior therapy is an effective treatment for many children with Tourette Syndrome (TS). Unfortunately, this treatment option is not widely available because few providers are knowledgeable and practiced in it. This is especially the case in sparsely populated rural areas where there are few mental health care providers. Furthermore, for many rural families, it is not feasible to travel to urban centers for assessment and treatment, especially when treatment requires multiple face-to-face appointments. Given that a considerable portion of the US population resides in rural areas, many children with TS are unlikely to have access to a clinician with expertise in behavior therapy for tics. One promising solution would be treatment delivered via telehealth. Broadly defined, telehealth involves the use of communication technology to deliver therapeutic or other medical/consultative services to individuals via telephone, Internet, or videoconference. Already many studies have shown that telehealth can be useful in the delivery of psychosocial interventions for a variety of medical and mental health conditions. The purpose of this research project is to develop and test the feasibility and acceptability of using telehealth to deliver behavior therapy for children with TS. In the first phase we will develop a detailed, testable behavior therapy treatment protocol specifically designed and tailored for telehealth delivery. In the second phase, several children with TS will receive the treatment via videoconference. In this phase patient and therapist data on the feasibility, usability, and acceptability of the treatment protocol and Internet delivery system will be collected and used to revise and improve the treatment protocol. In the final phase, the revised protocol will be tested in an open trial of 10 children with TS. Children will be recruited from the greater Grand Forks, ND area and will receive eight, 1-hour sessions of behavior therapy. Treatment will be delivered via videoconference by expert therapists located at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Our objective is to develop and test a user-friendly, telehealth-based behavior therapy protocol for managing TS. Ultimately, telehealth may prove to be an effective way to provide behavior therapy to children who otherwise may never have access to this potentially effective treatment. Michael B. Himle, Ph.D., University of North Dakota, Grand Forks, ND Douglas Woods, Ph.D., University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, WI Award: $70,553 Tourette Association of America Inc. – Research Grant Award 2008-2009