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Sara J Becker, Graduate Student    Edit

Sara J Becker

Research Summary:

My research broadly focuses on the characterization of treatment benefit of adolescent interventions using comprehensive, valid assessment methods. Extant studies have shown that the patient’s subjective well-being is the strongest predictor of treatment-seeking behavior, compliance, and retention in treatment, yet agreement between patient and clinician ratings of the patient’s subjective experience is often suboptimal. I am therefore particularly interested in the relationship between traditional clinical endpoints (e.g. symptom scales, diagnostic status, objective measures of functioning) and measures of the adolescent's subjective quality of life and satisfaction with treatment. My dissertation applied latent growth curve methodology to evaluate the longitudinal relationship between frequency of use and subjective quality of life among adolescent substance abusers receiving a brief intervention.

Associated with my interest in valid assessment, I have studied the development of valid assessment measures and the identification of clinical trial attributes that prevent biased outcome. I have experience developing, analyzing, and psychometrically validating instruments that measure treatment benefit from the patient's perspective, using the qualitative and quantitative methods recommended by the FDA. In addition, I have reviewed the quality of evidence of randomized controlled trials of outpatient interventions for adolescent substance abuse with an eye toward identifying best practices and areas for development in the field.

My clinical interests include working with multi-problem adolescents, especially those with mood disorders, substance abuse, and co-occurring conditions. I attempt to integrate my clinical and research interests by conducting a comprehensive evaluation of treatment benefit using multiple measures and informants. To evaluate treatment benefit from the adolescents’ perspective, I find it helpful to use individualized quality of life scales, which ask adolescents to rate life areas in terms of their importance and then rate their satisfaction with each of those areas. I find it very rewarding to incorporate explicitly the adolescent’s ratings into the treatment plan as a means to strengthen our alliance, promote compliance, and enhance satisfaction.

Representative Publications:   (More Publications)   (search)

  1. Becker, S. J. & Curry, J. F. (2008). Outpatient interventions for adolescent substance abuse: A quality of evidence review [Featured Article]. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 76, 531-544.
  2. Becker, S. & Curry, J. (2007). Interactive Effect of Substance Abuse and Depression on Adolescent Social Competence. Journal of Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology, 36, 469-475.
  3. Becker, S. J., Sanchez, C. C., Curry, J. F., Silva, S., & Toney, S. (2008). Cognitive Behavior Therapy for Adolescent Depression: Processes of Cognitive Change. Psychiatric Times, 25, 56-58.
  4. Sanchez, C. C., Becker, S. J., & Curry, J. F. (in press). Personality styles associated with binge eating and binge drinking. Psychology of Addictive Behaviors.
  5. Kim, J., Keininger, D., Becker, S., & Crawley, J (2005). Simultaneous Development of the Pediatric GERD Caregiver Impact Questionnaire in American English and American Spanish. Health and Quality of Life Outcomes, 3(5). (

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