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Project Overview

The purpose of this project is to integrate research-based evidence about traumatic brain injury into practice within the Department of Corrections (DOC). Specifically, we want to help front line staff understand the most effective ways to interact with offenders who have had a TBI.

In the first year, we will identify and prioritize research-based products on TBI that are most relevant for the Department of Corrections. Factsheets and evidence-based materials developed out of our own work will serve as a starting point.

We will next assess the current level of TBI knowledge and programming in DOC to identify gaps and assess potential barriers and facilitators to the use and adoption of TBI evidence in DOC and will develop and implement a comprehensive knowledge translation (KT) plan that includes system-wide strategies and an intensive pilot intervention.

Overview of system wide and intensive pilot.

System-wide strategies will be developed within the first two years of the grant (2015-2017) and will involve the development of both introductory and intermediate TBI curricula and programming. Introductory TBI evidence will target the broad audience of front line staff within DOC and include introductory TBI information such as prevalence, etiology, common associated issues, and best practices in management, treatment and recovery.  Intermediate TBI evidence will build upon the introductory information and include conditions or issues that are specific to unique settings and offender subgroups within DOC. For example, evidence that is tailored to address veterans with TBI may include evidence on the co-occurrence of PTSD and TBI, and information on TBI supports available through the WA State Department of Veterans Affairs that are not available to all offenders.

The intensive pilot project will take place in the last three years of the grant (2017-2020) and will involve piloting an intensive KT intervention to translate TBI knowledge to practice within a subgroup at DOC. The aim of the pilot intervention is to increase knowledge and skills of front line staff to address day-to-day management of common problems experienced by offenders with TBI. Piloting, testing, and refining the KT intervention aims to inform broader system-wide implementation. Three potential target subgroups and locations were identified through initial discussions with DOC leadership, including veterans with TBI, women with TBI, and offenders with TBI and intellectual/developmental disabilities. A final decision about the target group for the pilot will be made in the second year of this grant. 

Finally, we will evaluate the effectiveness of our knowledge translation strategies and overall process and summarize findings into recommendations to inform practice within DOC and the broader criminal justice community.