RRTC Research


The Temple University Collaborative’s research agenda is primarily driven by the focus of its work as a Rehabilitation Research and Training Center on Independent Living and Community Participation, funded by the National Institute on Disability, Independent Living, and Rehabilitation Research (NIDILRR), through three NIDILRR/RRTC grant cycles (2003-2008, 2008-2013, 2013-2018).  The Temple University Collaborative has  pursued a range of quantitative and qualitative studies designed to improve the ability of mental health policy-makers, service delivery managers, and practitioners (in both traditional and peer-based positions) to better promote community inclusion.

This research has led to a wide range of publications in professional journals and research-driven monographs, toolkits, guidebooks, and social media posts of use to program managers and practitioners.  In addition, the RRTC’s research serves as the basis for the Temple University Collaborative’s training, technical assistance, and consultation services to the field.

For more information on the research activities summarized below, contact us.

Current Research

2018 – 2023 Grant Cycle

Peer-facilitated interventions to promote mobility. 

The ability to get around in one’s community has a major impact on community participation. This study tests two interventions to enhance mobility, one involving bike share and the other training in the use of public transportation. Both interventions are peer-facilitated, continuing our long-term efforts to identify interventions that are consistent with a peer support ethos – successfull living in the community.

Internet-based study of action over inertia 

This study examines a structured intervention for promoting community participation delivered online that incorporates peer support. It continues our Center’s efforts to develop and test online interventions that may be more accessible.  

Enhancing parenting and family outcomes through family based leisure 

Our Center has long-term interests in enhancing supports for parents with mental health issues. This study assesses a Parenting Through Leisure (PTL) intervention focusing on increasing knowledge about the benefits of core and balance family leisure activities for both parents and children.

Photovoice to promote campus engagement of college students with mental illnesses 

This study explores the efficacy of a novel Photovoice-Peer Support (PPS) intervention aimed at enhancing campus engagement for students with serious mental illnesses. It is based upon a previous study where we found students to be highly engaged and reported many positive outcomes.

Exploring targets for promoting community participation 

This large sample study will identify potential mechanisms and novel targets for future interventions to support community participation of people with serious mental illnesses. Areas that will be explored include the relationships between participation, neurocognitive abilities, metacognitive abilities, self-regulation, environmental factors, stigma and trauma.

Identifying coordinated specialty care programs that promote participation 

Coordinated Specialty Care programs for individuals with early psychosis are blossoming throughout the country. A focus on promoting participation in areas that young people desire is believed to be an important component to enhance service engagement. This study will identify programs around the country that are focused most heavily on promoting community participation.

Understanding participation in non-urban communities

One of the most frequently asked questions the Temple Collaborative gets is how to specifically promote inclusion and participation in less urban areas. This participatory action research study addresses community living and participation issues faced by individuals with SMI in rural areas by hosting consortiums and convergences of key stakeholder groups to identify what participation means to them and what are the key facilitators and barriers to inclusion and participation.

2013 – 2018 Grant Cycle

A randomized, controlled trial of the effectiveness of distance supported education for post-secondary students with psychiatric disabilities 

Building upon the Temple University Collaborative’s prior work assessing supported education programs, this study is assessing how effective an online supported education intervention can be in assisting students who have psychiatric disabilities, focusing specifically on with college completion and academic achievement.


A cross-sectional study assessing factors associated with community living and participation

Through the use of GIS technologies, this study explores the degree to which domains of functioning are able to predict differences in community living and participation between publicly and non-publicly funded mental health consumers who have psychiatric disabilities.


A study of the prevalence of child protective service involvement and parental resiliency of parents with psychiatric disabilities

It is still unknown whether parents with psychiatric disabilities are at greater risk of child protective service (CPS) involvement. This study assesses factors related to child protective service involvement of parents with and without psychiatric disabilities, along with factors related to parenting without CPS involvement of those with psychiatric disabilities.


A controlled study identifying characteristics of welcoming spaces and enabling environments

Through the use of respondent driven sampling, this study assesses the qualities of non-mental health environments within the community, and identifies characteristics of spaces that encourage the inclusion of people with psychiatric disabilities.


A randomized, controlled trial of supported leisure and recreation for an active life

Working with a network of mental health agencies, this study assesses the effectiveness of a recreation-based intervention for participants currently receiving case management services, in promoting independence through community access and interest-based community participation.


A randomized, controlled pilot study of the effectiveness of a peer-directed intervention for persons who are formerly homeless

Community participation does not necessarily increase when housing success is achieved. This study tests a peer brokered, supported participation intervention for enhancing community living and participation among individuals who are formerly homeless and are currently receiving supported housing services.

A study of the return to community through restorative justice and circles of support

Working with Philadelphia’s Forensic Peer Support Specialist program, this study is developing a peer-delivered intervention focusing on the needs of people with psychiatric disabilities leaving jail, to increase their social connections and community participation, while preventing future involvement in the justice system.


Past Research

2008 – 2013 Grant Cycle

A randomized controlled study of peer-delivered supports for persons with co-occurring psychiatric and physical/sensory disabilities

Working with Liberty Resources, Inc. in Philadelphia, one of the nation’s oldest and largest Centers for Independent Living serving people with disabilities, the Temple University Collaborative explored the impact of providing the supports of Certified Peer Specialists for Liberty Resources consumers with both physical/sensory and psychiatric disabilities.

A study of environmental influences on community participation, using Geographic Information System (GIS) technologies  

Continuing the use of GIS technologies from the first five years of the Temple University Collaborative’s research activities, investigators explored the degree to which proximity to a wide range of community resources are predictive of measured levels of community inclusion for a sample of Philadelphians with psychiatric disabilities

A randomized controlled, multi-site trial of the effectiveness of supported education for post-secondary students with psychiatric disabilities

Working with a network of supported education programs funded by the State of New Jersey’s Office of Mental Health, the study assessed the degree to which supported education programs can be effective in assisting students to complete their studies in a satisfactory manner.

A randomized controlled trial assessing the impact of self-directed care, within a Medicaid-funding environment, on participation and community living  

Working with a selected sample of Medicaid clients in Delaware County (PA) served by Magellan Mental Health Systems, the study assessed the impact of placing primary control over the expenditure of Medicaid mental health funds in the hands of consumers, who were assisted by specially training peer specialist personnel.

A randomized, controlled trial of an ‘inoculation against discrimination’ training intervention for African Americans with psychiatric disabilities 

Experiences of daily race related stressors have a profound impact on the mental health status of African American (AA) clients with severe psychiatric disorders. Working with a local community mental health center, investigators implemented an RCT to assess the effectiveness of Stress Inoculation Training (SIT) for AA clients to improve their coping skills with daily discriminatory stressors encountered, and consequently, improve their psychiatric symptoms.

A mixed methods study of the community living needs of individuals with psychiatric disabilities who are newly released from jail 

This study followed a sample of individuals with psychiatric disabilities from jail to community, assessing the services and supports needed, available, and effective in the efforts of individuals to reestablish themselves – as family members, as workers, and as community participants – in their lives following incarceration.

A test of the reliability of three community participation measures for adults with psychiatric disabilities, using two administration approaches

This study continued the work of the Temple University Collaborative in providing the research tools needed to measure community inclusion and the effectiveness of related service/support interventions, providing a first time assessment of the reliability of three widely use participation measures that have been developed over the past few years.

A randomized, controlled study of the impact of an internet-based parenting intervention for mothers with psychiatric disabilities

Building upon the Temple University Collaborative’s prior work on the challenges facing mothers with psychiatric disabilities in raising their children, the Temple University Collaborative assessed a new intervention – an internet-based parenting group – in an effort to insure that needed peer support is provided for mothers seeking to retain custody of their children.


2003 – 2008 Grant Cycle

The meaning and definition of community from the perspective of consumers

The Temple University Collaborative interviewed consumers of mental health services and asked them to define ‘community,’ finding that they did so much the same way as those not using mental health services – as a series of connections to cultural, faith-based, neighborhood, and treatment organizations.

Advancing the measurements of community connection

This study focused on two existing measures assessing ‘sense of community’ – the Neighborhood Behavior Scale (NBS) and the Sense of Community Index (SCI).  The Temple University Collaborative revised both scales to better reflect the concerns of consumers of mental health services, developing new research protocols for the NBS and SCI for use in other research projects in the field.

Custody rights for women with psychiatric disabilities  

The Temple University Collaborative studied a sample of Medicaid-enrolled women and compared the degree to which women with mental illnesses lose custody of their children compared to those without mental illnesses:  investigators found mothers with mental illnesses were far more likely to lose custody of their children. This finding suggests the importance of both improved parenting services for these mothers and more education and training of all key parties including child welfare staff, court officials, and mental health providers.

A multi-state study of the impact of Olmstead implementation and assessment of consumer participation in planning

The Collaborative studied Olmstead planning activities in ten states in the years following Olmstead’s ground-breaking judicial decision. While planning activities and the states’ involvement of consumers varied considerably from state to state, consumers were rarely involved in national deliberations over Olmstead implementation, and state Olmstead related activities were limited by reductions in Olmstead funding.

The use of circles of support in supported employment: a randomized control

The Collaborative adapted a ‘circle of support’ intervention first used with individuals with developmental disabilities to assist people with mental illnesses to gain and maintain employment. While implementing a ‘circle of support’ proved more time consuming and complex than anticipated, consumers who received the support of families, friends, and co-workers did sustain employment longer.

Using a social enhancement workbook to build natural supports: a randomized control study

The Temple University Collaborative developed and sought to implement a ‘social enhancement workbook’ to be used by case managers and residential staff with consumers to assist them in building natural supports. Encouraging staff to use the Social Enhancement Workbook proved more difficult than anticipated, but positive outcomes were found for those who did fully utilize the workbook.

Internet-based peer support for people with psychiatric disabilities: a randomized control study

The Temple University Collaborative examined the effects of Internet peer support for people with psychiatric disabilities. Such interactions were found not to be harmful.

Post-secondary educational experiences of students with psychiatric disabilities

The Temple University Collaborative found that while college-going consumers participated in college life within many of the same patterns as their peers without a disability, approximately half reported difficulties with the academic and social demands of campus life, arguing for more targeted services to this group. A national survey of 508 college students with mental illnesses indicated both increased awareness and use of reasonable accommodations in their academic life, but recommended more peer-to-peer and professional support for students with mental illnesses.