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How to expand a psychosocial program

by Melissa Dittmann, Monitor Staff

Monitor on Psychology, Volume 34, No. 3 March 2003

Col. Larry James, PhD, chief of the department of psychology at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, has developed and installed psychosocial programs for treating obesity and eating disorders throughout the military. He suggests that psychologists who wish to expand other such programs should:

Use information technology. Expand a program beyond one geographic area with telehealth, interactive Web pages or teleconferencing. In the Walter Reed Army Medical Center's Clinical Breast Care Project, for example, one patient support group used video teleconferencing so that a woman stationed at an Air Force base in Germany could participate.

Start training programs. Train others to use the intervention to expand a project over time. For instance, by training 12 interns in the military, the Army could eventually send those interns to work at 12 different facilities throughout the world where they could start programs.

Build it, and they will come. "If you develop a program based on good science and it involves the latest technology and latest research, people will gravitate to it," James says.

Get the word out. Publish articles on the program in peer-reviewed journals and introduce it at nationally recognized conferences, James says. Also market the program widely. "If you don't talk about it to colleagues around the world, the program will never go beyond [that area]," James says.

Date created: 2003