Research & Evaluation
Ongoing evaluation and outcome analysis are built in to Pine River Institute’s (PRI) vision and mission, and we are leaders in this area. In addition to process evaluation (inquiry, admissions, and program engagement), client-centered outcome evaluation is central to the Pine River program. Using both qualitative and quantitative measures, we gather data at several critical points throughout the program, starting from the initial inquiry and continuing for several years post-program. The data collected from PRI families allow us to understand the health and behaviour of youths and their families before and after Pine River, including quality of life, functionality, and substance use information.
A determined curiosity along with a passion to keep learning about what works best for the youths and families whom we serve is embedded in our vision. We are expanding our research agenda to examine clinical issues linked to effective interventions and successful mechanisms of change with our youth and families.
Annual Evaluation Report
Our data and findings are published annually. Pine River's Annual Evaluation Report serves a dual purpose; it is an in-house tool for performance quality improvement, and a source of information for our stakeholders. The findings are relevant for all aspects of the organization, including risk management, administration, program development, financial planning, staffing, communications/marketing, and organizational presentations. We also trust that the information is valuable for funders, government decision-makers, practitioners, researchers, and our referral network. You will find our most recent Evaluation Report here.
Collaboration & Best Practices Knowledge Sharing
PRI is committed to making a meaningful contribution to best practices knowledge with regard to helping adolescents and families deal effectively with mental health and addiction issues.
We work in collaboration with major organizations (York University, SickKids Hospital, National Association of Therapeutic Schools and Programs, Ontario Centre of Excellence in Child and Youth Mental Health) to continually evaluate what we do and how our students are doing, and ensure we are providing the best possible care to youth and their families.
We are members of the Research Consortium for the National Association of Therapeutic Schools and Programs (NATSAP), and serve on their Ethics and Research Boards, as well as the Public Relations Committee.
We are partnering with the University of New Hampshire to explore health and behaviour outcomes for troubled youth who seek treatment.
PRI is leading a province-wide project to develop and implement evaluation in youth addiction agencies. On behalf of 12 collaborative agencies, we secured initial support from the Ontario Centre of Excellence in Child and Youth Mental Health and from Addictions and Mental Health Ontario. We also received a grant of $327,500 from the Ontario Trillium Foundation, and $210,262 from Health Canada’s Drug Treatment Funding Program to support this collaborative initiative, Evaluation Plan for Youth Care (EPYC).
We work with a variety of research partners to explore issues related to adolescent development and treatment approaches that are particularly effective with youth and their families. We are proud to be associated with Dr. Debra Pepler, Distinguished Research Professor of Psychology at York University & Senior Adjunct Scientist at the Hospital for Sick Children. Dr. Pepler is our Senior Research Advisor and has nurtured our growth in research-related projects since our early days.
The PRI Board of Directors has established a Standing Committee on Research led by Dr. Mark Greenberg to advise on research matters.
We strive to share our learnings through publications and presentations across Canada and with stakeholders including parents, staff, funders, and Board members.
The Journal of Therapeutic Schools and Programs (JTSP) is primarily a forum of exchange on issues of theory, research, and practice aimed at clinicians, administrators and educational consultants active in residential treatment and wilderness programs in the U.S.
Pine River is a member of the Research Consortium for the National Association of Therapeutic Schools and Programs (NATSAP), and we serve on their Ethics and Research Boards.
Articles authored by Pine River staff appearing in this journal:
Better Relationships, Mental Wellness, and Self-Development: What Parents Expect from Residential Treatment for Their Struggling Youth by Julia K. Riddell, York University; Marissa E. Barnes, York University; Dr. Laura Mills, Pine River Institute; Dr. Victoria Creighton, Pine River Institute; Dr. Debra J. Pepler, York University.
Wilderness Survival Guide to the T-Test by Dr. Laura Mills, Pine River Institute
For All You Do, This Article is for You: Thoughts on Optimizing and Evolving Treatment Evaluation by Dr. Laura Mills, Director of Research & Evaluation, Pine River Institute and Sarah Lewis, Center for Research, Assessment, and Treatment Efficacy
Family Matters: Engaging Parents in Youth Treatment by Dr. Victoria Creighton, Clinical Director, and Dr. Laura Mills, Director of Research & Evaluation, both at Pine River Institute
Effectiveness of Residential Treatment for Substance Abusing Youth: Benefits of the Pine River Institute Program
2013 - Pine River’s Director of Research and Evaluation, Laura Mills, Ph.D., published this article in the journal Residential Treatment for Children & Youth. She and her co-authors Dr. Debra Pepler (member of PRI’s International Research Advisory Committee and a member of PRI's Research Committee of the Board), and Dr. Robert Cribbie (York University) investigated the benefits of Pine River’s treatment program for youth abusing substances.
This distinguished journal offers peer-reviewed articles targeted specifically at the unique conditions of residential care.
This is a PDF of an electronic version of an article published in Residential Treatment for Children & Youth, Laura Mills MA PhD Cand, Debra Pepler PhD & Robert A. Cribbie PhD (2013) Effectiveness of Residential Treatment for Substance Abusing Youth: Benefits of the Pine River Institute Program, Residential Treatment For Children & Youth, 30:3, 202-226, DOI: 10.1080/0886571X.2013.819273
OF FURTHER INTEREST
Julia Riddell, Ph.D Candidate, MA Clinical-Developmental Psychology
MA Thesis: The Development of Self in Relationships: Youth’s Narratives of Change through a Residential, Wilderness and Family Therapy Intervention
Julia worked in a wilderness program before starting graduate studies at York University. Her advisor, Dr. Debra Pepler, is Pine River’s Senior Research Advisor, so when it came time to develop a thesis about how youths change during therapy, our program seemed like a natural fit. Julia initially thought she would focus on the wilderness phase, or Outdoor Leadership Experience (OLE).
Dr. Pepler is a firm believer, however, in the co-creation of research with community partners such as Pine River. When she and Julia spoke with our Clinical Director, Dr. Victoria Creighton, about their idea. Victoria suggested that a more meaningful study of change would need to be conducted at the campus, where youth spend an extended time working through our family-centred program. We refer to the wilderness phase as ‘the starting place for change’. Julia spent a few days every week at the campus from fall 2013 to spring 2014 as part of her Master’s thesis work.
In October 2015, Julia presented a poster at the International Association of Youth Mental Health conference that combines the results from her thesis with a study she undertook with PRI’s Director of Research & Evaluation, Laura Mills, using parent applications to Pine River.
Follow this link to see Julia’s poster, Learning from Youths’ Narratives of Change And Parental Treatment Expectations to Guide Outcome Measurement.
Watch PRI co-founder Samantha Yamada's Ted Talk on how measuring impact at Pine River Institute helped to create hope, right from day one (2012).