Photo of Eric Bruns

Eric Bruns, PhD

Associate Director, SMART Center
Professor, Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences, Childrens Division
(206) 685-2477
Box 358015 / Room 110H
  • Biography
  • Projects
  • Publications

Eric Bruns, Ph.D., is a Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences in the University of Washington School of Medicine. Dr. Bruns’s research focuses on public child-serving systems, and how to maximize their positive effects on youth with behavioral health needs and their families. Toward this end, Dr. Bruns focuses primarily on two areas with high public health significance. The first is intensive care coordination models for youths with serious emotional and behavioral challenges. In this area, Dr. Bruns co-directs the National Wraparound Initiative ( and the National Wraparound Implementation Center (, and directs the UW Wraparound Evaluation and Research Team ( In this area, Dr. Bruns has led multiple federally-funded (NIMH, SAMHSA, CMS) research and intervention development projects aimed at defining and evaluating impact of intensive care coordination models. The second area is school mental health services. In this area, Dr. Bruns is Associate Director of the UW SMART Center, where he leads the Center’s Technical Assistance Core and directs its Institute for Education Sciences (IES)-funded Post-doctoral Research Training Program. He has served as PI or Co-I on six Institute for Education Sciences (IES)-funded research studies, on topics such as development and efficacy testing of an assessment, engagement, triage, and brief intervention strategy for school clinicians and counselors, intensive Tier 3 intervention-models for high school students with SEBC, and methods for addressing racial disparities in school discipline.


Google Scholar Dept of Psychiatry Profile

The purpose of this project is to develop and test a Tier-3 team-based Wraparound (T3W) intervention package for schools. Researchers will carry out their study in three phases. In the first phase, they will iteratively adapt the existing Wraparound model for use in elementary schools. In the second phase, they will test the feasibility of the revised intervention in elementary settings. In the third phase, they will complete a pilot test to evaluate the promise of the intervention, and with gather cost information. The project will yield a complete T3W intervention package, including training and coaching curricula, guidelines for districts and schools, supervisor supports, fidelity measures, and data systems, as well as preliminary evidence of the promise of positive outcomes.
The Brief Intervention Strategy for School Clinicians (BRISC) is a 4-session, evidence-based, and flexible “Tier 2” intervention tailored to high school students and designed to fit the school context. This cluster randomized efficacy trial (52 public high schools in three states) will use longitudinal data collection with students and parents; analyses of school records; implementation measures; and clinician and administrator surveys and interviews to evaluate outcomes of BRISC compared to services as usual, as well as moderators and mediators of outcomes and feasibility, acceptability, and costs of BRISC. For more information, click here.
(Training & Technical Assistance) In addition to regular training activities and special areas of focus, the Northwest Mental Health Technology Transfer Center (Northwest) has received funding to support increased training and technical assistance for school mental health in Alaska, Idaho, Oregon, and Washington. To operationalize this support Northwest has partnered with the University of Washington School Mental Health Assessment, Research, and Training (SMART) Center, a national leader in developing and supporting implementation of evidence-based practices (EBPs) in schools, including prevention, early intervention, and intensive supports. The Northwest School Mental Health (SMH) and Multi-tiered System of Supports (MTSS) Training and Technical Assistance (TA) Center, within the UW SMART Center, supports school mental health efforts with the goal to support states, districts, schools and community partners to build an equitable single system of delivery in which education and mental health systems are integrated across the tiers.

Background and Goals:

The Wraparound service model (WSM) is the most common care coordination strategy for youth with serious emotional disorders(SEO), with programs in nearly every U.S. state serving more than 100,000 youth. A recent meta-analysis of 17 controlled studies found significant positive effects of WSM on mental health (MH) symptoms, out of home placement rates, and health care expenditures, confirming its critical role in behavioral healthcare for children and adolescents. As is the case for other evidence-based practices, the degree to which data are consistently measured and used to inform care, i.e., "measurement-based care" or MBC, accounts for a large proportion of the variance in outcomes for Wraparound. For example, collection and use of data assessing client satisfaction, therapeutic alliance, and progress substantially increase likelihood of achieving target outcomes as a function of treatment. However, research on WSM shows that measurement and use of data, such as via Routine Outcome Monitoring, is inconsistent at best. The goal of this SBIR is to develop and test a mobile ROM (mROM) system tailored to WSM. The proposed SMART-Wrap (Short Message Assisted Responsive Treatment for Wraparound) product will provide a feasible and acceptable mROM approach for WSM-enrolled parents/caregivers and youth based on evidence-based principles and past research for effective mROM. SMS ("short message system") is supported by every mobile device and network with no software download needed. More than 98% of SMS messages are opened, compared to just 20% of emails, and on average, 90% of SMS messages are opened within the first 3 seconds of receipt.l161 SMART-Wrap will periodically administer brief, straightforward (1-2 items) SMS-based assessments of intermediate outcomes that have been found to predict clinical outcomes of WSM (e.g., harm to self and others, hospitalization, out of home placement)). Data will be used to:
  1. Populate tabular and graphical displays (based on user permissions) to inform decision-making by WSM care providers, supervisors, and program managers (i.e., the WSM care team);
  2. Trigger alerts to WSM care team members, such as escalation in caregiver stress or youth symptoms; and
  3. Generate automated SMS outreach messages for families.

This 18-month Phase I project will accomplish the following specific aims: 

Aim 1: Design SMS system. Leveraging our team's unparalleled access to WSM-implementing organizations, we will work with 50 WSM expert advisors, including experienced youth and caregivers, to determine an initial set of SMS assessment items and define the algorithm for generating data-driven alerts and outreach messages for each end user type (youth, parents/caregivers, WSM care team members). The Phase I proof of concept prototype will focus on four intermediate outcomes associated with positive clinical outcomes for WSM, specifically: therapeutic alliance, treatment satisfaction, youth symptoms, and parent stress/optimism. Aim 2: Test SMS system. We will evaluate item psychometrics and messaging system feasibility with 30 families with a youth with SEO currently enrolled in WSM. Parents/caregivers and youth will independently interact with the prototype messaging system over a two-week period and then participate in follow-up focus groups and complete a prototype evaluation survey. We expect target end users to report high feasibility, usability, and acceptability for the prototype messaging system. We also expect items to show acceptable psychometric properties for youth and caregivers. Findings will be used to inform iterative modifications to items and enhancements to the text messaging platform prior to Phase I pilot testing. Aim 3: Develop care team report features. Building on recommendations from our WSM expert advisors in Aim 1 as well as input from our expert consultants, we will create an online dashboard for WSM teams including tabular and graphical data displays, message and alert tracking logs, and reports to support team­ based decision-making. The online dashboard will be fully functioning to support the Phase I pilot test. Aim 4: Conduct pilot test. We will work with established WSM provider organizations (WPO) to recruit 10 WSM care teams (approx . 30 WSM providers, 10 program managers, and 10 supervisors across 10 WPOs). Teams will use the SMART-Wrap prototype with 1 family over a 2-month pilot period (n=30 families). Software usage metrics will be collected and participants will complete follow-up online surveys. We hypothesize high usability (e.g., expected completion times, few help requests) and positive views of the prototype's feasibility, acceptability, and added value across participant types (youth, caregivers, care team members). Positive results will set the stage for a Phase II SBIR to fully examine efficacy for service and clinical outcomes. Commercial Application. SMART-Wrap will offer a feasible, cost-efficient, and scalable software system to meet the documented public health need for mROM and MBC in care coordination for youth behavioral health. Our end product will provide a novel solution to over 1,000 WPOs and WSM initiatives, many of which already license other technologies from this team, with future expansion to programs that serve youth and adults via other coordinated care models. 3C's expertise in iterative software development and UW's extensive ongoing research and commercial channels into WSM will provide a solid foundation for these efforts.
(non-research) The SMART Center Postdoctoral Research Training Program in School Mental Health is funded by the U.S. Department of Education’s Institute for Education Sciences (IES).The fellowship’s areas of focus align with those of the SMART Center and include research-based school behavioral health strategies and policies, implementation science, educational equity, clinical research methodology, and understanding and reducing ethnic and racial disparities.
The aims of this project are to: (1) evaluate the usability of leading, evidence-based Tier 1 social-emotional and behavioral interventions (SEBI) and identify unique and common usability problems, (2) explore the links between SEBI usability and implementation and student outcomes, and (3) refine the USABILITY theory of change, develop a matrix of usability problems and redesign solutions, and articulate guidance to the field for designing usable Tier 1 SEBIs.
(Training & Technical Assistance) As a key component of this mission, UW SMART has developed strategies and related infrastructure for providing training and technical assistance to state and local education agencies as well as individual school districts. The SMART Center’s “TACore” provides: 1) Training and consultation/coaching focused on developing workforce capacity (among school staff and community partners) to deliver research-based strategies, policies, and practice models relevant to the education context, 2) Technical assistance focused on building evidence-based, multi-tiered systems of school-based behavioral health, using collaborative decision-making processes guided by local data as well as research evidence, and 3) Program evaluation focused on collecting and analyzing existing (e.g., administrative datasets) and novel (e.g., surveys, focus groups) quantitative and qualitative data to determine the impact of new or existing programs, practices, and policies.
In response, Washington state was recently awarded $6 million from the U.S. Department of Education to create a pipeline from Washington state’s five accredited Masters in Social Work training programs to Washington state’s K-12 schools. Called the Workforce for Student Well-being Initiative or WSW, 100 aspiring school social workers will receive conditional scholarships based on their financial need so the cost of getting an education is not a barrier to their getting an advanced degree and then committing to working in a high-need public or tribal school. [maxbutton id="1" url="" text="Learn More Here!" window="new" ]
Effectiveness of a Brief Engagement, Problem-Solving, and Triage Strategy for High School Students: Results of a Randomized Study(2023)Prevention Science24:701–714.
What happens when training goes virtual? Adapting training and technical assistance for the school mental health workforce in response to COVID-19(2021)School Mental Health13:160-173.
Influences of inner and outer settings on Wraparound implementation outcomes.(2021)Global Implementation and Applications1:77-89.
Systematic review and meta-analysis: Effectiveness of Wraparound care coordination for children and adolsecents.(2021)Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry60 (11):1353-1366.
Rates of mental health service utilization by children and adolescents in schools and other common service settings: A systematic review and meta-analysis(2021)Administration and Policy in Mental Health and Mental Health Services Research48:420-439.
Developing an evidence-based technical assistance model: a process evaluation of the National Training Technical Assistance Center for Child, Youth, and Family Mental Health.(2020)Journal of Behavioral Health Services & Research1-18.
Rates of mental health service utilization by children and adolescents in schools and other common service settings: A systematic review and meta analysis(2020)Administration and Policy in Mental Health and Mental Health Services Research48:430-439.
Pilot test of an engagement, triage, and brief intervention strategy for school mental health(2019)School Mental Health11:148-162.
User-centered redesign of evidence-based psychosocial interventions to enhance implementation – Hospitable soil or better seeds?(2019)JAMA Psychiatry76(1):3-4.
From evidence to impact: Joining our best school mental health practices with our best implementation strategies(2019)School Mental Health11:106-114.
The role of the outer setting in implementation: Associations between state demographic, fiscal, and policy factors and use of evidence-based treatments in mental healthcare.(2019)Implementation Science14(96):1-13.
Psychotropic polypharmacy among youth with serious emotional and behavioral disorder receiving care coordination.(2018)Psychiatric Services69(6):716-722.
Impact of Electronic Health Record on quality and fidelity of children’s behavioral health services: Results of a randomized study.(2018)Journal of Medical Internet Research20(6):e10197.
How do school mental health services vary across contexts and provider types? Lessons learned from two efforts to implement a research-based strategy(2018)School Mental Health10(1):134-146.
Predictors of disparities in access and retention in school-based mental health services(2018)School Mental Health10(1):1-11.
Twenty-five years of wraparound care coordination research: A comprehensive review of the literature.(2017)Journal of Child & Family Studies26(5):1245-1265.
Fostering SMART partnerships to develop integrated behavioral health services in schools(2016)American Journal of Orthopsychiatry86(2):156-170.
New Frontiers in Building Mental, Emotional and Behavioral Health in Children and Youth(2016)American Journal of Orthopsychiatry
The Contextualized Technology Adaptation Process (CTAP): Optimizing health information technology to improve mental health systems(2016)Administration and Policy in Mental Health and Mental Health Services Research42:394-409.
Research, Data, and Evidence-Based Treatment Use in State Behavioral Health Systems, 2001-2012(2015)Psychiatric Services
The Brief Intervention for School Clinicians (BRISC): A mixed-methods evaluation of feasibility, acceptability, and contextual appropriateness(2015)School Mental Health
Taking EBPs to school: Developing and testing a framework for applying common elements of evidence based practice to school mental health(2014)Advances in School Mental Health Promotion7:42-61.
Taking evidence-based practices to school: Using expert opinion to develop a brief, evidence-informed school-based mental health intervention(2014)Advances in School Mental Health Promotion7:42-61.
Improving the impact of school-based mental health and other supportive programs on students’ academic outcomes: how do we get there from here?(2014)Advances in School Mental Health Promotion7(1):1-4.
Family voice with informed choice: Coordinating wraparound with research-based treatment for children and adolescents.(2014)Journal of Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology43(2):256-269.
Improving the evaluation and impact of mental health and other supportive school-based programmes on students’ academic outcomes(2013)Advances in School Mental Health Promotion6(4):226-230.
Academic outcomes of an elementary school-based family support programme.(2013)Advances in School Mental Health Promotion6(4):231-246.