Dissemination Science in School Mental Health: A Framework for Future Research

Elizabeth A. Baker, Stephanie K. Brewer, Julie Sarno Owens, Clayton R. Cook, Aaron R. Lyon

    Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

    7 Scopus citations


    There has been an increase in school mental health research aimed at producing generalizable knowledge to address longstanding science-to-practice gaps to increase children's access to evidence-based mental health services. Successful dissemination and implementation are both important pieces to address science-to-practice gaps, but there is conceptual and semantic imprecision that creates confusion regarding where dissemination ends and implementation begins, as well as an imbalanced focus in research on implementation relative to dissemination. In this paper, we provide an enhanced operational definition of dissemination; offer a conceptual model that outlines elements of effective dissemination that can produce changes in awareness, knowledge, perceptions, and motivation across different stakeholder groups; and delineate guiding principles that can inform dissemination science and practice. The overarching goal of this paper is to stimulate future research that aims to advance dissemination science and practice in school mental health.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)791-807
    Number of pages17
    JournalSchool Mental Health
    Issue number4
    StatePublished - Dec 2021

    Bibliographical note

    Funding Information:
    PBIS is an evidence-based framework that targets behavioral and mental health problems in schools and has been successfully disseminated across the USA, as evidenced by large-scale adoption (implemented in 20,000 schools in 44 states; Horner, ) and policy change (legislation passed for mandated implementation of PBIS; Bradshaw et al., ). PBIS provides a strong example of successful dissemination that was supported by a wave of funding from the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Special Programs (OSEP). Funding from OSEP facilitated unique collaborations between state departments of education, researchers at a university, non-profit organizations, and stakeholders in schools (e.g., administrators, teachers).

    Funding Information:
    Stephanie K. Brewer was supported by the National Institute of Mental Health (F32 MH116623) during the preparation of this manuscript. Clayton R. Cook was supported by the Institute of Educational Sciences (R30 5A170292).

    Publisher Copyright:
    © 2021, The Author(s), under exclusive licence to Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature.


    • Dissemination
    • Dissemination science
    • Implementation
    • School mental health
    • Science-to-practice gaps


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