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Sept 7 -- The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), is issuing this RFI to gather expert and public feedback to determine how to best satisfy Sec. 7002, subsections (b), (c), or (d) of the 21st Century Cures Act. Input from the public and experts will help SAMHSA identify the optimal ways to identify, evaluate, and disseminate programs and practices, based on their intended audiences, the nature of the evidence supporting the program or practice, and the type of product deemed best suited to the content. SAMHSA seeks input from members of the public on potential changes to its Evidence-Based Practices Resource Center (EBPRC), specifically regarding the possible introduction of three new domains for the EBPRC website. In addition to addressing four general questions about the EBPRC overall, SAMHSA encourages members of the public to comment on several questions pertaining to each of the domains described. SAMHSA believes that public and expert input on the new domains will help make the EBPRC more responsive to the needs of the public and the behavioral health field. Comments on this notice must be received by October 13th, 2023.

The EBPRC was established in 2018 to fulfill the statutory requirements of the 21st Century Cures Act (Pub. L. 144–255). Specifically, section 7002 of the 21st Century Cures Act requires that, as appropriate, SAMHSA shall “improve access to reliable and valid information on evidence-based programs and practices, including information on the strength of evidence associated with such programs and practices, related to mental and substance use disorders for States, local communities, nonprofit entities, and other stakeholders, by posting on the internet website of the Administration information on evidence-based programs and practices that have been reviewed by the Assistant Secretary in accordance with the requirements of this section.” SAMHSA has designated the EBPRC, managed by the agency's National Mental Health and Substance Use Policy Laboratory (NMHSUPL), to fulfill this charge.

With the directive to publish information on evidence-based programs and practices (EBPs), the EBPRC relies on SAMHSA's relationships with key behavioral health stakeholders, including researchers, clinical and public health service providers, program administrators, and people with lived experience to inform the content it distributes. Further, SAMHSA's repository of EBPRC materials is organized by topic area and made searchable to maximize navigability, utility, and relevancy of content to those poised to implement EBPs. In this way, the EBPRC aims to broaden the scale of EBP implementation and provide support to improve behavioral health outcomes nationwide.

Recognizing the ever-changing nature of the evidence base, the EBPRC seeks to take a dynamic and responsive approach to its curation of resources. To date, however, the EBPRC has primarily posted federally developed materials on practices. The programs and practices mentioned in the posted materials are vetted through a review of the evidence. However, unlike Crimesolutions.gov or the What Works Clearinghouse (WWC), the EBPRC does not currently incorporate and publish a systematic process for identifying, evaluating and rating specific programs and practices across the behavioral health field and related subspecialty fields for inclusion, as envisioned by section 7002, subsections (b), (c), or (d) of the 21st Century Cures Act. The inclusion of reviews and ratings of particular programs would allow users to search for and learn about specific programs that might meet their population's needs.

To ensure that the EBPRC fulfills its roles in the analysis, synthesis, and dissemination of behavioral health evidence, SAMHSA requests that members of the public respond to the following questions, the answers to which will help frame the agency's efforts to improve the EBPRC's utility to the public.

Question A: How can SAMHSA improve the EBPRC to better meet the needs of the behavioral health field?
Question B: What strategies should the EBPRC use to ensure its content is high-quality and supported by strong evidence?
Question C: How can SAMHSA expand the reach of the EBPRC?
Question D: How can SAMHSA solicit feedback on the use of its resources and information?

In addition, SAMHSA requests that commenters consider the following three domains of the EBPRC, upon which it seeks specific feedback, as enumerated below.

Domain 1. Adding a program review and rating component to the EBPRC. . . .
Domain 2. Including implementation science, process improvement, capacity building and program evaluation resources. . . .
Domain 3. Culturally informed and community-driven programs and practices. . . .
 
EBPR: https://www.samhsa.gov/​resource-search/​ebp
FRN: https://www.federalregister.gov/d/2023-19272

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