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Developing a Research Strategy for Suicide Prevention in the Department of Defense

Developing a Research Strategy for Suicide Prevention in the Department of Defense: Status of Current Research, Prioritizing Areas of Need, and Recommendations for Moving Forward

Rajeev Ramchand
Nicole K. Eberhart
Christopher Guo
Eric Pedersen
Terrance Dean Savitsky
Terri Tanielian
Phoenix Voorhies
Copyright Date: 2014
Published by: RAND Corporation
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  • Book Info
    Developing a Research Strategy for Suicide Prevention in the Department of Defense
    Book Description:

    To support U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) efforts to create a unified, comprehensive strategic plan for suicide prevention research, a RAND study cataloged studies funded by DoD and other entities, examined whether current research maps to DoD’s strategic research needs, and provided recommendations to encourage better alignment and narrow the research-practice gap when it comes to disseminating findings to programs serving military personnel.

    eISBN: 978-0-8330-8774-4
    Subjects: Psychology, Health Sciences, Management & Organizational Behavior

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-ii)
  2. Preface
    (pp. iii-iv)
  3. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-viii)
  4. Figures
    (pp. ix-x)
  5. Tables
    (pp. xi-xii)
  6. Boxes
    (pp. xiii-xiv)
  7. Summary
    (pp. xv-xxii)
  8. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xxiii-xxiv)
  9. Abbreviations
    (pp. xxv-xxvi)
  10. CHAPTER ONE Introduction
    (pp. 1-4)

    The U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) has been increasingly concerned about the elevated rate of suicide among U.S. service members. At the end of the last decade, a report by the RAND Corporation (Ramchand et al., 2011) and the final report of the congressionally mandated Task Force on the Prevention of Suicide by Members of the Armed Forces offered a series of recommendations to help strengthen DoD’s suicide prevention programs. The task force’s final recommendation was for DoD to “create a unified, strategic, and comprehensive DoD plan for research in military suicide prevention ensuring that the DoD’s military suicide prevention...

  11. CHAPTER TWO Current Suicide Prevention Research in the United States That Is Directly Relevant to Military Personnel
    (pp. 5-24)

    In this chapter, we catalogcurrentresearch being conducted in the United States on suicide prevention that is directly relevant to military personnel. Cataloging the research involved defining the bounds of research abstraction; creating a data abstraction form, including key categories of information on the studies; identifying funders of suicide prevention research through online searches and by asking key informants; abstracting the research using online sources, along with emails and interviews with researchers and research portfolio managers; and systematically categorizing the abstracted research to quantify the areas in which research is being conducted.

    The following references provide reviews ofpast...

  12. CHAPTER THREE Prioritizing Research Needs in the U.S. Department of Defense
    (pp. 25-38)

    In this chapter, we present DoD’s needs for suicide prevention research as perceived by representatives who, because of their organizational affiliation, play a role in DoD’s suicide prevention activities. To do so, we built on the aspirational research goals established by the NAASP and conducted an online consensus-building exercise. We ranked suicide prevention priorities across five domains: importance, cultural acceptability, effectiveness, cost, and future learning potential. Although a less-than-ideal participation rate limits the conclusions we can make, the process for ranking priorities enabled us to make sensible and strong conclusions, and the exercise could be replicated by DoD to boost...

  13. CHAPTER FOUR Preliminary Gap Analysis
    (pp. 39-46)

    At this point, we have presented abstractions of all DoD and non-DoD research on suicide prevention (Chapter Two) and identified DoD research needs and priorities (Chapter Three). In this chapter, we examine whether current research funding aligns with DoD’s research priorities.

    We present two stacked bar charts for each of five domains: perceived importance, effectiveness, cultural acceptability, cost, and future learning potential. In each set, the first graph shows the number of studies funded for each aspirational research goal, separating those conducted within and outside DoD, with higher-ranked priorities at the top and lower-ranked priorities at the bottom. We then...

  14. CHAPTER FIVE Modeling DoD’s Suicide Prevention Research Priorities
    (pp. 47-60)

    In this chapter, we use data from both the RAND Expert Lens ranking with DoD and the RAND expert panel, described in Chapter Three, to provide a practical framework for prioritizing aspirational research goals to yield maximum impact in terms of reduced suicide attempts and cost. This framework accounts for differing population subgroups of military personnel who are affected by each research strategy. It models the effect and costs of interventions matched to these subgroups. In addition, we draw insights from the economics literature on research and development (R&D) portfolio optimization to provide guidance for decision-makers about allocating DoD funds...

  15. CHAPTER SIX Translating Research into Practice
    (pp. 61-88)

    The ultimate objective of any suicide prevention research study is to provide empirically supported information that can be used to improve or inform suicide prevention strategies. Unfortunately, there is a research-practice gap in disseminating research conducted in academic settings to individuals who may actually benefit from learning about the research (Lamb, Greenlick, and McCarty, 1998). When researchers finish collecting data for a research study, they typically write up the results and submit an article for publication in a peer-reviewed journal. Researchers also attend local, national, or global conferences, where they speak with others in their field about their research findings...

  16. CHAPTER SEVEN Recommendations for a Research Strategy
    (pp. 89-96)

    DoD is one of the largest funders of research related to suicide prevention in the United States. DoD currently funds 62 studies, accounting for close to $200 million. However, current funding priorities do not reflect the department’s research needs. Research funding is overwhelmingly allocated to enhance prevention strategies that already are considered effective; those considered most important, most appropriate for the military context, and in areas in which the field has the most to learn receive relatively little. Furthermore, when studies are completed and new evidence emerges about a promising practice, DoD, like other organizations, suffers from a research-to-practice gap....

  17. APPENDIX A Ongoing Studies of Relevance to Suicide Prevention Among Military Personnel
    (pp. 97-136)
  18. APPENDIX B Alternative Allocation Analysis
    (pp. 137-138)
  19. APPENDIX C Statistical Procedure for Extracting Rankings from the RAND ExpertLens Panel
    (pp. 139-144)
  20. APPENDIX D Feedback from DoD Stakeholders About the RAND ExpertLens Process
    (pp. 145-146)
  21. APPENDIX E Sensitivity Analysis of the Benefit-Cost Index Rankings
    (pp. 147-150)
  22. APPENDIX F Research Domains and Approaches for Assessing Research Quality
    (pp. 151-154)
  23. References
    (pp. 155-164)