Karen Cameron Wells

Associate Professor in Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences

Education & Training

  • Ph.D., University Health Service

  • M.S., University Health Service


I am the PI on an NIDA funded grant studying the incremental effectiveness of family therapy when applied in the context of an outpatient substance abuse treatment program for adolescent substance abusers. Subject/families are randomly assigned to one of two treatment conditions: Standard Outpatient Treatment or Standard Outpatient Treatment plus Family therapy. The family therapy intervention is based on a system/structural model of family functioning with specific focus on the content issues and family dynamics involved in substance abuse. Subject/families are assessed at baseline, immediate post intervention, and at a 6 month follow-up period. the study is of experimental significance because it addresses the question of whether changing family processes empirically identified as associated with substance abuse, results in changes in risk factors for substance abuse and actual substance use. The study is of public health significance because it addresses the added benefit of family therapy in substance abuse tretment program for adolescents. Although most thereticians call for family therapy for this population, fewer than 25% of treatment programs across the country include family therapy as a component of treatment.

I am also Co-PI on a NIDA funded study of the secondary prevention effects of cognitive behavioral intervention and behavioral parent training intervention on high risk aggressive boys. This is a school/community based secondary prevention program in which 4th and 5th grade boys, identified as at risk for later substance abuse by relatively high levels of aggressive/disruptive behavior in the school and home, are randomly assigned to receive cognitive behavior therapy alone, or the combination of cognitive behavioral therapy puls behavioral parent training, or a control condition of routine school based service. A normal (i.e., non-aggressive) control group is also being followed for comparison purposes. Subjects and their families are assessed at baseline and then reassessed at several follow-up intervals. We intended to follow these boys into middle school and high school to assess the impact of an early risk based prevention program on later substance use and abuse. the interventions consist of well researched single tretments for aggression, but their combinatory effects have not been well evaluated prior to this study.

I am Co-PI on a large NIMH funded, multi-site trial investigating multi-modality tretment for attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). This is a clinic-based intervention program for 7-9 year old, ADHD boys and girls. Subjects are randomly assigned to receive, Psychosocial Treatment Alone (consisting of Parent Training, A summer Treatment Program and Classroom Behavioral Intervention); Medication alone; their combination; or a community comparison group. The intervention occurs over a 13 month period and subjects are followed for two years. Hypotheses relate to both the short and long term effects of single versus multi-modality treatments for ADHD. Secondary hypotheses have to do with child's co-morbidity status (i.e., presence of secondary diagnoses such as Oppositional Defiant Disorder or Anxiety disorder) and its relationship to outcome. I developed and is responsible for the fidelity and integrity of the Parent Training Intervention for this large-scale, nationally visible project.

I am Co-PI on a NIDA funded grant of a study to develop treatment manuals for depressed, substance abusing adolescents. Dr. Curry is developing a manual for group treatment of the adolescents, and I am developing a coordinated manual for family treatment. The manuals will be based on cognitive-behavioral models of interpersonal and family functioning, and will be tested on a small N in this project. Once the manuals are developed, a proposal to test the efficacy of the combined model will be submitted to NIDA as a RO1 grant application.

Hechtman, L, Swanson, JM, Sibley, MH, Stehli, A, Owens, EB, Mitchell, JT, Arnold, LE, Molina, BSG, Hinshaw, SP, Jensen, PS, Abikoff, HB, Perez Algorta, G, Howard, AL, Hoza, B, Etcovitch, J, Houssais, S, Lakes, KD, and Nichols, JQ. "Functional Adult Outcomes 16 Years After Childhood Diagnosis of Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder: MTA Results." Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry 55.11 (November 2016): 945-952.e2. Full Text

Roy, A, Hechtman, L, Arnold, LE, Sibley, MH, Molina, BSG, Swanson, JM, Howard, AL, Vitiello, B, Severe, JB, Jensen, PS, Arnold, LE, Hoagwood, K, Richters, J, Vereen, D, Hinshaw, SP, Elliott, GR, Wells, KC, Epstein, JN, Murray, DW, Conners, CK, March, J, Swanson, J, Wigal, T, Cantwell, DP, Abikoff, HB, Hechtman, L, Greenhill, LL, Newcorn, JH, Molina, B, Hoza, B, Pelham, WE, Gibbons, RD, Marcus, S, Hur, K, Kraemer, HC, Hanley, T, and Stern, K. "Childhood Factors Affecting Persistence and Desistence of Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder Symptoms in Adulthood: Results From the MTA." Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry 55.11 (November 2016): 937-944.e4. Full Text

Lochman, JE, Powell, NP, Boxmeyer, CL, Qu, L, Sallee, M, Wells, KC, and Windle, M. "Counselor-Level Predictors of Sustained Use of an Indicated Preventive Intervention for Aggressive Children." Prevention science : the official journal of the Society for Prevention Research 16.8 (November 2015): 1075-1085. Full Text

Goldman, EE, Bauer, D, Newman, DL, Kalka, E, Lochman, JE, Silverman, WK, Jensen, PS, Curry, J, Stark, K, Wells, KC, and Bannon, WM. "A school-based post-Katrina therapeutic intervention." Administration and policy in mental health 42.3 (May 2015): 363-372. Full Text

Goldman, EE, Bauer, D, Newman, DL, Kalka, E, Lochman, JE, Silverman, WK, Jensen, PS, Curry, J, Stark, K, Wells, KC, and Bannon, WM. "A School-Based Post-Katrina Therapeutic Intervention." Administration and Policy in Mental Health and Mental Health Services Research 42.3 (2015): 363-372. Full Text

Vitulano, ML, Fite, PJ, Hopko, DR, Lochman, J, Wells, K, and Asif, I. "Evaluation of underlying mechanisms in the link between childhood ADHD symptoms and risk for early initiation of substance use." Psychology of addictive behaviors : journal of the Society of Psychologists in Addictive Behaviors 28.3 (September 2014): 816-827. Full Text

Elkins, SR, Fite, PJ, Moore, TM, Lochman, JE, and Wells, KC. "Bidirectional effects of parenting and youth substance use during the transition to middle and high school." Psychology of addictive behaviors : journal of the Society of Psychologists in Addictive Behaviors 28.2 (June 2014): 475-486. Full Text

Murray-Close, D, Hoza, B, Hinshaw, SP, Arnold, LE, Swanson, J, Jensen, PS, Hechtman, L, and Wells, K. "Developmental processes in peer problems of children with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder in The Multimodal Treatment Study of Children With ADHD: Developmental cascades and vicious cycles—CORRIGENDUM." Development and Psychopathology 26.01 (February 2014): 287-287. Full Text

Chorpita, BF, Weisz, JR, Daleiden, EL, Schoenwald, SK, Palinkas, LA, Miranda, J, Higa-McMillan, CK, Nakamura, BJ, Austin, AA, Borntrager, CF, Ward, A, Wells, KC, Gibbons, RD, and Hlth, RNYM. "Long-Term Outcomes for the Child STEPs Randomized Effectiveness Trial: A Comparison of Modular and Standard Treatment Designs With Usual Care." JOURNAL OF CONSULTING AND CLINICAL PSYCHOLOGY 81.6 (December 2013): 999-1009. Full Text

Lochman, JE, Wells, KC, Qu, L, and Chen, L. "Three year follow-up of coping power intervention effects: evidence of neighborhood moderation?." Prev Sci 14.4 (August 2013): 364-376. Full Text


Treatment for Teens with Alcohol Abuse and Depression awarded by National Institutes of Health (Co Investigator). 2014 to 2019

Impact of Adolescent Suicide Attempts on Parents awarded by National Institutes of Health (Co Investigator). 2009 to 2015

Duke MTA Study RFP: NIMH-08-DS-00008 awarded by National Institutes of Health (Principal Investigator). 2008 to 2013

SOFTAD awarded by National Institutes of Health (Co Investigator). 2003 to 2010

PREMIER Mental Health Interventions Training Program awarded by National Institutes of Health (Mentor). 2002 to 2010

Relapse Prevention for Suicidal Dually Diagnosed Youths awarded by National Institutes of Health (Co Investigator). 2005 to 2010

Treatment of Adolescent Suicide Attempts (TASA) awarded by National Institutes of Health (Principal Investigator). 2002 to 2009

National Drug Abuse Treatment Clinical Trials Network awarded by National Institutes of Health (Co Investigator). 2001 to 2008

Supplement to Multimodal Treatment Study of Children with ADHD awarded by National Institutes of Health (Principal Investigator). 2000 to 2008

Drug Abuse Treatment for Adolescents (DATA) awarded by Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (Clinical Director). 2003 to 2007