Developing the DMH Research Agenda – Stakeholder Focus Groups

UMMS Affiliation

Department of Psychiatry

Publication Date


Document Type



Mental Health; Mental Health Services; Community Mental Health Services; Massachusetts


Health Services Research | Psychiatric and Mental Health | Psychiatry and Psychology | Public Health


The Massachusetts Department of Mental Health (DMH) currently funds two Centers of Excellence (COEs) that engage in research related to mental illnesses and services: the Beth Israel Deaconess Commonwealth Research Center and the UMASS Center for Mental Health Services Research. In addition, many organizations and academic centers throughout the Commonwealth carry out research projects that are supported by various federal agencies and/or private sources. Much of this research is intended to lead to improvements in the care that individuals with mental illnesses receive. At the same time, DMH and Medicaid fund dozens of provider organizations that serve individuals who experience mental illnesses. Providers are eager to know more about which services best support improvement, care and recovery. Finally, the voices of consumers and parents merit attention from both researchers and providers. Thus, one of the goals of this report is to inform researchers about providers’ and consumers’ concerns, and providers and consumers about the research that is being conducted state-wide.

The Department’s Deputy Commissioner of Clinical and Professional Services contacted DMA Health Strategies and Consumer Quality Initiatives, Inc., to discuss a methodology to determine the recommendations of stakeholders regarding priorities for DMH research support. Following a few joint planning sessions, the project’s goals, objectives, and methodology were decided. DMA Health Strategies and Consumer Quality Initiatives, Inc., conducted a series of focus groups as well as a review of recent documents and current Web sites. Adult consumers in Western, Central and Eastern Massachusetts; transition aged youth; parents of child consumers; and providers attended a total of seven focus groups. In addition, conversations were held with the researchers at the two COEs. This report summarizes the results of those sessions. Additionally, the report provides an overview of current mental health research being done in Massachusetts by other researchers, and the relationship between that research and the priorities of stakeholders; and offers some conclusions and recommendations regarding both priorities for mental health research in the Commonwealth and mechanisms for sharing research findings among all the stakeholders in the entire system.


J Delman, R Dougherty, S Perlman (2009) Developing the DMH Research Agenda – Stakeholders Focus Groups.

Prepared by J. Delman, R. Dougherty, and S. Perlman for DMA Health Strategies, Consumer Quality Initiatives, Inc., and the DMH Deputy Commissioner of Clinical and Professional Services.

Journal/Book/Conference Title

Developing the DMH Research Agenda – Stakeholders Focus Groups