Blending Education, Research, and Service Missions: The Arkansas Model
Creating school and community partnerships with academic health centers (AHC) offers one strategy for initiating and sustaining broad-based change in health systems. This article describes the development, initial evaluation, and current iteration of the Arkansas Partners in Behavioral Health Sciences Model, a collaboration between personnel from an AHC and K-12 schools to address behavioral health issues in children. The model’s focus on education, research, and service provides an opportunity for AHC faculty and school personnel to collaborate to promote mental health in school-aged youth. Quantitative and qualitative methods have been used to inform development and confirm effectiveness of the program. From 2001 through 2005, more than 2,700 school personnel from 72 of the 75 counties in Arkansas participated in more than 30,000 hours of continuing education. The programs have also targeted students using interactive televideo presentations, supplemental classroom curricula, and an exhibit in a state science museum, resulting in an outreach to more than 2,500 youths. Results of longitudinal and randomized studies also show changes in knowledge, attitudes, and behaviors. In an era of extraordinary need and finite resources for school systems, AHCs are poised to provide the critical link to improve the scientific knowledge and understanding of behavioral health conditions. The current program targets behavioral health, but AHCs also can incorporate other health conditions, scientific topics, and medical interventions to provide a important service for the public and to accomplish an important mission toward health leadership in the community.