Youth and young adults in the juvenile justice system have a high prevalence of concurrent psychiatric and substance use disorders and are also at high risk for HIV. However, even when the disorders and risks are recognized, most programs do not address all of these important problems and long-term efficacy for all outcomes simultaneously has yet to be demonstrated for these multi-problem youth. Adverse outcomes for youth include partially treated or relapsing psychiatric disorders, continued substance abuse, unchanged HIV risk, and further legal problems. This project, in collaboration with the Rhode Island Family Court, with whom we have existing collaborations, will address these issues by implementing an Integrated Treatment Program (ITP) that targets mental health/substance abuse disorders and HIV risk. ITP is novel by targeting multiple adolescent problems simultaneously, involving parents to augment change, and its delivery within the Family Court. This study will extend our previous efficacious interventions among youth with psychiatric disorders to court-involved youth. Adolescents and their parents will be enrolled from the Rhode Island Family Court Mental Health Clinic where youth aged 13-17 are referred by judges for comprehensive assessment and referral for treatment. This randomized controlled trial will test the efficacy, among 200 sexually active court-involved youth who need outpatient treatment, of the novel, integrated treatment (ITP, n=100) as compared to enhanced standard care in community outpatient services (ESC, n=100) over an 18-month period (6 months of ITP or ESC and 12 months of follow-up). ITP consists of three components: 1) individual cognitive behavioral therapy which includes a motivational interviewing component and is modular-based to address concurrent mental health and substance abuse issues;2) family and parent training sessions to address parental communication and monitoring to support risk reduction among youth;3) multifamily group workshops to address HIV risk, family communication and peer resistance skills. Youth in both conditions (ITP and ESC) will receive similar case management services from the court and psychiatric medication management (if needed) from a study psychiatrist. ITP will be compared to ESC on reductions in sexual risk behavior, substance use, symptoms of psychiatric disorders, and legal offenses.

Public Health Relevance

Youth in the juvenile justice setting are likely to have multiple problems and require treatment for mental health and substance use disorders, as well as HIV risk behavior. We expect that our Integrated Treatment Program, an intensive treatment within the juvenile justice setting that involves parents and targets multiple areas of concern, will result in better outcomes for these multi-problem youth.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)
Research Project (R01)
Project #
Application #
Study Section
Special Emphasis Panel (ZRG1-AARR-G (03))
Program Officer
Kamath, Susannah M Allison
Project Start
Project End
Budget Start
Budget End
Support Year
Fiscal Year
Total Cost
Indirect Cost
Rhode Island Hospital
United States
Zip Code
Brown, Larry K; Tarantino, Nicholas; Tolou-Shams, Marina et al. (2018) Mental Health Symptoms and Parenting Stress of Parents of Court-Involved Youth. J Child Fam Stud 27:843-852
Tolou-Shams, Marina; Brogan, Leah; Esposito-Smythers, Christianne et al. (2018) The role of family functioning in parenting practices of court-involved youth. J Adolesc 63:165-174