Melissa M Jenkins

University of California, San Diego, San Diego, California, United States

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Publications (11)16.12 Total impact

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    ABSTRACT: Mental health professionals' decision-making practice is an area of increasing interest and importance, especially in the pediatric research and clinical communities. The present study explored the role of prior training in evidence-based treatments on clinicians' assessment and treatment formulations using case vignettes. Specifically, study aims included using the Naturalistic Decision Making (NDM) cognitive theory to 1) examine potential associations between EBT training and decision-making processes (novice versus expert type), and 2) explore how client and family contextual information affects clinical decision-making. Forty-eight clinicians across two groups (EBT trained=14, Not EBT trained=34) participated. Clinicians were comparable on professional experience, demographics, and discipline. The quasi-experimental design used an analog "think aloud" method where clinicians read case vignettes about a child with disruptive behavior problems and verbalized case conceptualization and treatment planning out-loud. Responses were coded according to NDM theory. MANOVA results were significant for EBT training status such that EBT trained clinicians' displayed cognitive processes more closely aligned with "expert" decision-makers and non-EBT trained clinicians' decision processes were more similar to "novice" decision-makers, following NDM theory. Non-EBT trained clinicians assigned significantly more diagnoses, provided less detailed treatment plans and discussed fewer EBTs. Parent/family contextual information also appeared to influence decision-making. This study offers a preliminary investigation of the possible broader impacts of EBT training and potential associations with development of expert decision-making skills. Targeting clinicians' decision-making may be an important avenue to pursue within dissemination-implementation efforts in mental health practice.
    Child and Youth Care Forum 02/2015; 44(1). DOI:10.1007/s10566-014-9274-x · 1.25 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: This exploratory qualitative study describes treatment barriers to receiving family-focused child mental health services for youths with disruptive behavior problems from multiple perspectives. Data were collected during a series of focus groups and interviews, including: 4 therapist focus groups, 3 parent focus groups, and 10 youth semi-structured interviews. Therapist, parent, and youth stakeholder participants discussed perceived barriers to effective treatment, the problems with current child outpatient therapy, and desired changes (i.e., policy, intervention, etc.) to improve mental health services. Results indicate similar themes around treatment barriers and dissatisfaction with services within and across multiple stakeholder groups, including inadequate support and lack of family involvement; however, parents and therapists, in particular, identified different contributing factors to these barriers. Overall, stakeholders reported much frustration and dissatisfaction with current community-based outpatient child therapy services. Study findings can inform service provision, intervention development, and future research.
    Journal of Child and Family Studies 08/2013; 22(6):854-868. DOI:10.1007/s10826-012-9644-7 · 1.42 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Family history of mental illness provides important information when evaluating pediatric bipolar disorder (PBD). However, such information is often challenging to gather within clinical settings. This study investigates the feasibility and utility of gathering family history information using an inexpensive method practical for outpatient settings. Families (N = 273) completed family history, rating scales, and the Mini-International Neuropsychiatric Interview (Sheehan et al., 1998) and the Kiddie Schedule for Affective Disorders and Schizophrenia for School-Age Children (Kaufman et al., 1997) about youths 5-18 (median = 11) years of age presenting to an outpatient clinic. Primary caregivers completed a half-page Family Index of Risk for Mood issues (FIRM). All families completed the FIRM quickly and easily. Most (78%) reported 1+ relatives having a history of mood or substance issues (M = 3.7, SD = 3.3). A simple sum of familial mood issues discriminated cases with PBD from all other cases (area under receiver operating characteristic [AUROC] = .63, p = .006). FIRM scores were specific to youth mood disorder and not attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder or disruptive behavior disorder. FIRM scores significantly improved the detection of PBD even controlling for rating scales. No subset of family risk items performed better than the total. Family history information showed clinically meaningful discrimination of PBD. Two different approaches to clinical interpretation showed validity in these clinically realistic data. Inexpensive and clinically practical methods of gathering family history can help to improve the detection of PBD. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved).
    Psychological Assessment 07/2012; DOI:10.1037/a0029225 · 2.99 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Evidence-based assessment of pediatric bipolar disorder has advanced rapidly in the last two decades, moving from isolated clinical case descriptions to what is now a portfolio of techniques that include checklists from multiple informants, semi-structured diagnostic interviews and severity ratings, and technologies that allow daily tracking of mood and energy over the course of treatment. This review critically appraises (a) the need for evidence-based assessment of bipolar disorder as a common component of clinical practice, (b) triggers that warrant assessment of bipolar, (c) when best to deploy different techniques over the course of diagnosis and treatment, and (d) promising new developments in assessment. A decision-making framework is adapted from evidence-based medicine to guide assessment sequences in a patient-centered approach. Emphasis is placed on approaches that currently have the best validity and are feasible in most clinical practice settings. These methods increase accuracy and address many controversies surrounding pediatric bipolar diagnoses.
    The Israel journal of psychiatry and related sciences 01/2012; 49(1):15-27. · 0.72 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Bipolar disorder is frequently clinically diagnosed in youths who do not actually satisfy Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (4th ed., text revision; DSM-IV-TR; American Psychiatric Association, 1994) criteria, yet cases that would satisfy full DSM-IV-TR criteria are often undetected clinically. Evidence-based assessment methods that incorporate Bayesian reasoning have demonstrated improved diagnostic accuracy and consistency; however, their clinical utility is largely unexplored. The present study examines the effectiveness of promising evidence-based decision-making strategies compared with the clinical gold standard. Participants were 562 youths, ages 5 to 17 and predominantly African American, drawn from a community mental health clinic. Research diagnoses combined a semistructured interview with youths' psychiatric, developmental, and family mental health histories. Independent Bayesian estimates that relied on published risk estimates from other samples discriminated bipolar diagnoses (area under curve = .75, p < .00005). The Bayes and confidence ratings correlated at rs = .30. Agreement about an evidence-based assessment intervention threshold model (wait/assess/treat) was κ = .24, p < .05. No potential moderators of agreement between the Bayesian estimates and confidence ratings, including type of bipolar illness, were significant. Bayesian risk estimates were highly correlated with logistic regression estimates using optimal sample weights (r = .81, p < .0005). Clinical and Bayesian approaches agree in terms of overall concordance and deciding next clinical action, even when Bayesian predictions are based on published estimates from clinically and demographically different samples. Evidence-based assessment methods may be useful in settings in which gold standard assessments cannot be routinely used, and they may help decrease rates of overdiagnosis while promoting earlier identification of true cases.
    Psychological Assessment 10/2011; 24(2):269-81. DOI:10.1037/a0025775 · 2.99 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The misdiagnosis of pediatric bipolar disorder (PBD) has become a major public health concern. Would available evidence-based assessment (EBA) strategies help improve diagnostic accuracy, and are clinicians willing to consider these strategies in practice? The purpose of the present study was to document the extent to which using an EBA decision tool--a probability nomogram--improves the interpretation of family history and test data by clinicians and to examine the acceptability of the nomogram technique to clinicians. Over 600 clinicians across the US and Canada attending continuing education seminars were trained to use the nomogram. Participants estimated the probability that a youth in a clinical vignette had bipolar disorder, first using clinical judgment and then using the nomogram. Brief training of clinicians (less than 30 minutes) in using the nomogram for assessing PBD improved diagnostic accuracy, consistency, and agreement. The majority of clinicians endorsed using the nomogram in practice. EBA decision aids, such as the nomogram, may lead to a significant decrease in overdiagnosis and help clinicians detect true cases of PBD.
    Professional Psychology Research and Practice 04/2011; 42(2):121-129. DOI:10.1037/a0022506 · 1.34 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The present study employed qualitative methods to examine multiple stakeholder perspectives regarding the role of parent and family contextual factors on community child mental health treatment for children with behavior problems. Findings suggest agreement between clinicians and parents on the number, types and importance of parent and family factors in children's mental health services; however, stakeholders differed in reports of which factors were most salient. Specifically, clinicians endorsed most factors as being equally salient, while parents described a few salient factors, with parental stress and inadequate social support being the most frequently discussed. These qualitative data further elucidate the context of community services and have implications for evidence-based practice implementation and improving community care.
    Child and Youth Care Forum 12/2010; 39(6):397-419. DOI:10.1007/s10566-010-9111-9 · 1.25 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: This study compared data from 34 research trials of five empirically supported treatments (ESTs) with one large usual care (UC) sample on child, parent, and family characteristics for children with Disruptive Behavior Disorders. Large variations were found within and across ESTs on sample characteristics during the past two decades. Most parent and family characteristics were not reported in EST studies. Statistical comparisons between UC and EST samples revealed that occurrences of child demographics and symptom severity levels were similar, but occurrences of most parent and family characteristics were different, with higher rates of problems for the UC sample. Results indicate that UC clients have complex needs, with multiple child, parent, and family issues. The findings are discussed in relation to the importance of acknowledging parent and family contextual variables in implementation efforts.
    Journal of Emotional and Behavioral Disorders 01/2010; 18(2):82-99. DOI:10.1177/1063426609336956 · 1.28 Impact Factor
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    Eric A Youngstrom, Andrew J Freeman, Melissa McKeown Jenkins
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    ABSTRACT: The overarching goal of this article is to examine the current best evidence for assessing bipolar disorder (BPD) in children and adolescents and provide a comprehensive, evidence-based approach to diagnosis. Evidence- based assessment strategies are organized around the "3 Ps" of clinical assessment: Predict important criteria or developmental trajectories, Prescribe a change in treatment choice, and inform Process of treating the youth and his/her family. The review characterizes BPD in youths-specifically addressing bipolar diagnoses and clinical subtypes; it then provides an actuarial approach to assessment using prevalence of disorder, risk factors, and questionnaires; discusses treatment thresholds; and identifies practical measures of process and outcomes. The clinical tools and risk factors selected for inclusion in this review represent the best empirical evidence in the literature. By the end of the article, clinicians will have a framework and set of clinically useful tools with which to effectively make evidence-based decisions regarding the diagnosis of BPD in children and adolescents.
    Child and adolescent psychiatric clinics of North America 05/2009; 18(2):353-90, viii-ix. DOI:10.1016/j.chc.2008.12.002 · 2.88 Impact Factor
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    Melissa M. Jenkins
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    ABSTRACT: Clinical decision-making and pediatric bipolar disorder
  • 56th Meeting of American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry;

Publication Stats

91 Citations
16.12 Total Impact Points


  • 2015
    • University of California, San Diego
      • Department of Psychiatry
      San Diego, California, United States
  • 2009–2013
    • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
      • Department of Psychology
      North Carolina, United States