Blog

Research at Radius!

Did you know? Radius has a small but mighty team dedicated to conducting both short- and longer-term research.  We take pride in the fact that our research informs clinical practice.  What does this mean?  That what we learn through research helps us know how to best help the children, youth and families that we serve and how we can improve our programs and services. In this issue and in futures issues of Radius e-News, we are going to delve into the important work of the Research department.

RADIUS’ RESEARCH: AN OVERVIEW

Radius has unique research opportunities as one of the only community-based organizations whose work focuses on youth who sexually offend, children engaging in concerning sexual behaviours, sibling sexual abuse, youth who have chosen to use violence in a dating relationship, and their families.  Though we are committed to developing and providing evidence-based and evidence-informed clinical programs and services, there is a dearth of research evidence specific to our specialized programs and client groups. We recognize and value our unique opportunities to contribute to the knowledge-base from which regional, national, and international service providers, researchers, communities, and individuals practitioners and clients benefit. We are one of the few Canadian programs offering specialized community-based services and supports to our specific client groups; given our unique position, we are committed to bridging the scientist-practitioner gap[1] by conducting research that engages our management team, our clinical service providers, our client groups, and our small research team.

WHAT DOES THE RADIUS RESEARCH DEPARTMENT DO?

Our Research Priorities:

To ensure that Radius’ research projects: i) are aligned with our specialized programs and services, ii) provide clinically relevant information, and iii) reflect the agency’s purpose and goals, we developed a committee charged with research oversight and direction. The Research Development Committee (RDC) is comprised of managers, staff, and consultants reflecting the variety of Radius’ services and programs (e.g., intake, training, psychometrics, evaluation, research, clinical).

RDC members review all internally and externally proposed research projects to discern:

  1. whether each proposed project is viable,
  2. whether conducting the project will be disruptive,
  3. whether the project is relevant to Radius’ programs/services, and
  4. whether the project’s outcomes are likely to have internal, regional, national, and/or international benefit.

Radius is mindful of the costs (e.g., time, services, resources) required to conduct research projects; therefore, the RDC assesses the clinical value and benefits of proposed research projects against the costs of conducting internal projects and/or participating in external research.

Our Research Ethics:

Radius is committed to ethical research that considers and balances the potential benefits of a project with client protection; therefore, we established a Research Ethics Committee (REC) that applies Tri-Council Research Guidelines (TRC) for research with human subjects.  The REC includes both internal (clinical) and external (academic) members.  Currently, TRC’s external members hold doctoral degrees and are from various professions such as professors, consultants, and program managers; we also have a PhD candidate and a psychologist on the committee. All research projects proposed by Radius and external organizations must meet TRC guidelines, and the REC ensures client confidentiality and protection.

Our Research Projects:

Over the past 5 years, we have focused our internal and community-based research projects on client characteristics, family environment, risk assessment and prediction, and clinician functioning. Some examples of our projects include:

  1. Exploring young victims’ reported statements about what they think the consequences should be for their perpetrators,
  2. Determining whether trauma symptoms are related to sexual abuse characteristics,
  3. Investigating the family characteristics of young victims with and without a history of concerning sexual behaviours;
  4. Comparing sexual behaviour characteristics of victims and nonvictims.

Some examples of internal and community-based projects include:

  1. Investigating specialized clinicians’ perceptions of their work environment;
  2. Exploring trauma clinicians’ personal and professional functioning during COVID.

The projects outlined above reflect a sample of those we have completed and are currently conducting.  Importantly, many of our research projects are among the few that provide empirical evidence specific to these issues. Having knowledge of client characteristics provides evidence upon which we, and others in this field, can identify the needs of those children, youth and families who benefit from our specialized services.

Specialized Evaluation at Radius:

Though Radius’ Manager of Data, Analytics, and Evaluation conducts projects specific to evaluating the effectiveness of our clinical services (see https://radiuscys.ca/quality-and-safety-at-radius/), the research team has conducted multiple limited-term, targeted, evaluation projects.  One of these projects is a comprehensive theory-based evaluation of the Youth Dating Violence (YDV) Program, which is a unique and specialized intervention for youth who have used violence in a dating relationship; the YDV Program and evaluation project are generously funded by the Public Safety Canada.  The YDV Program evaluation was designed to investigate functioning and efficacy across all program components (e.g., outreach, referrals, intake, assessment, etc.).  Though the project is extensive, the YDV program managers and research team determined that conducting a theory-based evaluation was important given that there is no similar program to compare the outcomes to. Upon completion, the YDV evaluation will provide evidence specific to the functioning and efficacy of each program component; the results will inform the procedures and processes for the continuation of the program.  Other targeted evaluation projects include exploring whether parents’/guardians’ knowledge and comfort changes while attending one or more short-term web-based psychoeducation programs.

Our Community Service:

In addition to conducting specific projects, the research team is involved in multiple community services. Radius has provided research training and placements for university students from multiple schools, at varying levels of study, and across multiple academic departments. In most cases, students have conducted research projects in collaboration with Radius’ consulting researcher or under her supervision. At the time of their placements, students were attending: Laurentian University, Toronto Metropolitan University, Nipissing University, and the University of Saskatchewan.  Students’ graduate degree programs included: Doctoral programs in Psychology and Education, Masters programs in Psychology and Child Studies; students in Bachelors programs were from various departments including Psychology, Criminal Justice, Sociology, and Education.  Some of Radius’ research projects were also conducted in collaboration with professors from multiple departments including Education, Psychology, and Child & Family Studies.

Another community support we provide is peer reviews for academic journals whose manuscripts are related to our client groups; for example, we have reviewed manuscripts for Sexual Abuse, the official journal of the Association for the Treatment of Sexual Abusers, as well as Child Abuse & Neglect, and the Journal of Child Sexual Abuse. We have provided consultation and support on multiple regional and international projects, and we collaborate with multiple international professionals and organizations in their clinical evaluations, research projects, and their implementation of Radius’ assessment methods and measures. We are committed to supporting the work of programs, agencies, and private practitioners who conduct research and evaluation on client groups that reflect those who use our services.

Our research team is also involved in professional trainings and conferences presentations.  For example, we have contributed to a few of the training and consultation initiatives provided by our Training Institute, such as recent trainings specific to children and youth who have engaged in sexually abuse behaviours.  We have also presented our work at many national and international conferences; some examples of these presentations include:

Victim voices: Consequences for sexual abuse perpetrators from youth victims’ perspectives. Presented at the 19th Biennial Violence & Aggression Symposium, Centre for Forensic Behavioural Science and Justice Studies. Saskatchewan, Canada.

The Role of the Family: Concerning Sexual Behaviour in Children. 36th Annual Research and Treatment Conference for the Association for the Treatment of Sexual Abusers, Kansas City, Missouri, USA.

Aligning Sexual Abuse Crime & Punishment from Child and Adolescent Victims’ Perspectives   Presented at the 25th Annual International Conference on Violence, Abuse, & Trauma Across the Lifespan.  Institute on Violence, Abuse, & Trauma, San Diego, CA, United States.

Long-term impact of childhood sexual abuse by a peer.  Continuum of Services for Adolescent Sexual Offenders, Toronto, ON.

 Family and personal functioning of children with concerning sexual behaviours that include animals. Annual Continuum of Services for Adolescent Sexual Offenders, Toronto, ON.

 Teachers’ knowledge and confidence in responding to child abuse. Poster presented at the 3rd Annual North Bay Regional Health Centre Research Conference, North Bay, Ontario.

We are committed to investigating characteristics and experiences of our client groups, supporting, and engaging in research related to the populations we support, collaborating with our peers, training students and professionals, and sharing our research and experience.  We welcome questions about our research, interest in research and training opportunities, student placements, and research collaboration.

Please reach out to us any time at: research@radiuschild-youthservices.ca

 

[1] “The gap between research and practice is the inevitable result of the disconnected incentive structures that scientists and practitioners face.” Olenick, J., Walker, R., Bradburn, J., & DeShon, R. P. (2018). A systems view of the scientist-practitioner gap. Industrial and Organizational Psychology, 11(2), 220-266. doi: https://doi.org/10.1017/iop.2018.8