The DMHAS Center for Prevention Evaluation and Statistics (CPES) at UConn Health, staffed by Jane Ungemack, Dr.PH., Principal Investigator, and Jennifer Sussman, Coordinator, was established to support the Prevention and Health Promotion (PHP) Unit of the Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services (DMHAS) in its efforts through the identification, collection, analysis, interpretation and dissemination of data pertaining to substance abuse prevention, mental health, and health disparities. CPES convenes, supports and chairs the State Epidemiological Outcomes Workgroup (SEOW), which supports the PFS 2015 initiative, as well as the larger PHP infrastructure, and fosters data sharing among its members and partners.
CPES is also tasked with:
- identification, access and assessment of indicator data;
- provision of research and statistical expertise and support;
- training and technical assistance on evaluation and data use (with the Prevention Training and Technical Assistance Service Center, or TTASC);
- tracking of behavioral health indicators;
- development and maintenance of the interactive SEOW Data Portal, in partnership with the Connecticut Data Collaborative; and
- dissemination of findings via technical reports, epidemiological profiles, presentations, and consultation.
CPES within the DMHAS Prevention System
The CPES Team
Jane Ungemack, Dr.PH
Dr. Ungemack, of UConn Health, is a Health Services researcher specializing in substance abuse and other related public health issues. She is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Public Health Sciences with a longstanding research portfolio working in collaboration with Connecticut state agencies to develop and implement research and evaluation projects designed to inform state substance use policy and program development. These projects, both state and federally funded, have been designed to enhance the availability, accessibility and quality of substance abuse services, improve the state’s capacity to provide treatment and prevention, and assess the feasibility and effectiveness of evidence-based practices. In addition to epidemiologic research, she has conducted state and community-level needs assessments and evaluation studies using a variety of quantitative and qualitative methodologies, including process and outcome evaluation, special studies of high risk populations, secondary analysis of administrative and service data, social indicators analysis, and resource and readiness assessments. Dr. Ungemack has evaluated several demonstration projects with state and community partners intended to effect system change to build infrastructure capacity and to improve the quality of care as well as client and population outcomes. As faculty in the Program in Applied Public Health Sciences, she is Associate Director of the Master in Public Health (MPH) program of the UConn School of Medicine.
Jennifer Sussman, B.A., M.F.A.
Jennifer is a Research Associate with UConn Health, Department of Public Health Sciences. Over the past 27 years with the UConn Health Center, Jennifer has worked in the areas of: health services research; substance abuse prevention and treatment evaluation and quality improvement; instrument development and training/technical assistance/capacity building; and data and research practices. She has spent the majority of her career working closely with state agencies to evaluate their federally-funded initiatives, and has years of experience in both project management and field research with at-risk and adjudicated youth in community and correctional settings. She has worked extensively with DMHAS’ prevention initiatives over the past decade, as well as with the RACs and local coalitions on the CSAP-funded SIG, SPF-SIG and PFS projects, building evaluation capacity on the community level, supporting training and technical assistance around data-driven planning, and interfacing with DMHAS and other state and community partners. She has contributed to numerous journal publications and reports. Jennifer holds a B.A. degree in Sociology from Trinity College in Hartford, CT, and an MFA in Writing from Goddard College in Plainfield, VT.
Janice Vendetti, M.P.H., C.P.H.
Janice is a Health Services researcher at UConn Health with 25 years of experience in program evaluation and implementation science. She has worked in the capacity of Trainer, Data Manager, Analyst, and Evaluator on numerous projects demonstrating the efficacy of screening and brief intervention for at-risk substance use in various health care settings, including hospitals and federally qualified health care centers (FQHCs). Janice has been involved several state and federally funded grant initiatives in developing training and implementation protocols for Screening and Brief Intervention services to clinicians and providers in these settings. She has also worked in conjunction with the World Health Organization to develop and test screening instruments and brief intervention protocols for alcohol, tobacco and other drugs. She was a member of the Cross-site Evaluation Team responsible for the evaluation of the first and third cohorts of the SAMHSA-funded SBIRT programs across the country and currently works to evaluate and provide guidance to several SAMHSA-funded initiatives around SBIRT, substance misuse and treatment effectiveness. She maintains her Certification in Public Health (CPH), is a member of the Society of Clinical Research Associates (SOCRA) and is a member of Delta Omega, the Honorary Society in Public Health (Beta Rho chapter). Janice is responsible for dataset acquisition and analysis for CPES.
The SEOW Prevention Data Portal
The SEOW Data Portal, developed with support from the Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services (DMHAS), is a collaborative effort of the UConn Health Center for Prevention Evaluation and Statistics (CPES), the State Epidemiological Outcomes Workgroup (SEOW) and the Connecticut Data Collaborative. The SEOW Data Portal is an interactive repository for behavioral health and related data. The goal of the SEOW Data Portal is to increase accessibility and utility of Connecticut’s epidemiological data in support of a comprehensive public health approach to substance abuse prevention and health promotion.
Local Evaluator Workgroup
Connecticut’s Local Evaluator Workgroup (LEW) is comprised of community-level evaluators from three of Connecticut’s key substance abuse prevention initiatives: CSAP Partnerships for Success (PFS) 2015; Connecticut Strategic Prevention Framework Coalitions (CSC); and SAMHSA Drug-free Communities (DFC). The concept of the LEW emerged from CPES’ comprehensive needs assessment process, which assessed prevention data and evaluation capacity and needs at the state and local levels. What evolved from CPES’ community level assessment was a vision for a peer mentoring approach to capacity building, led by a CPES-convened Local Evaluator Workgroup, and supported by CPES, in conjunction with the technical assistance framework and dialogue-based learning model established by the TTASC. Additionally, there was an identified need by local evaluators for collegial support and resource sharing, as well as recognition and standardization of prevention evaluation practices across the Local Evaluator workforce and initiatives.
The Local Evaluator Workgroup will support local evaluation across prevention initiatives by:
- Increasing the capacity of local evaluators;
- Developing and identifying best practices and standards for local evaluation;
- Troubleshooting issues relevant to process evaluation, outcome evaluation, and work with community coalitions;
- Sharing resources within the group;
- Developing products; and
- Bolstering evaluation workforce development in Connecticut; and
- Informing and supporting CPES’ prioritization of evaluation services, such as data provision, training, and technical assistance.
The LEW meets quarterly, with the potential for smaller workgroups to convene based on the needs and activities of the funded initiatives, CPES, and projects prioritized by the LEW.
For more information on the Local Evaluator Workgroup, or to join the group, please contact:
Jennifer Sussman, CPES, email@example.com.
The Mental Health Indicator Workgroup
The Mental Health Indicator Workgroup is a small but committed group of mental health professionals and researchers from DMHAS and UConn Health, tasked with expanding CPES’ knowledge, expertise, data capacity and resources around mental health issues. The group was formed in August of 2017, based on a need for additional mental health data expertise identified through CPES’ needs assessment process.
The primary tasks of the Workgroup are to:
- Conduct a review of the research around existing mental health indicators, including shared risk factors, consequences, and at-risk populations;
- Develop a body of relevant mental health indicators, to be compiled, tracked, and made available by CPES, and utilized by the SEOW and other prevention and health promotion stakeholders;
- Access and compile relevant data into comprehensive, Connecticut-specific epidemiological profiles for major mental health disorders;
- Interface with the SEOW membership and prevention stakeholders to broaden the prevention infrastructure’s substance-based prevention focus to behavioral health promotion.
For more information on the Mental Health Indicator Workgroup, please contact:
Jennifer Sussman, CPES, firstname.lastname@example.org.