Karen Cameron Wells

Karen Cameron Wells

Associate Professor in Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences

Education & Training

  • Ph.D., University of Georgia at Athens 1978

  • 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.

Sibley, MH, Rohde, LA, Swanson, JM, Hechtman, LT, Molina, BSG, Mitchell, JT, Arnold, LE, Caye, A, Kennedy, TM, Roy, A, Stehli, A, and Multimodal Treatment Study of Children with ADHD (MTA) Cooperative Group, . "Late-Onset ADHD Reconsidered With Comprehensive Repeated Assessments Between Ages 10 and 25." The American journal of psychiatry 175.2 (February 2018): 140-149. Full Text

Roy, A, Hechtman, L, Arnold, LE, Swanson, JM, Molina, BS, Sibley, MH, 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 Predictors of Adult Functional Outcomes in the Multimodal Treatment Study of Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (MTA)." Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry 56.8 (August 2017): 687-695.e7. Full Text

Sibley, MH, Swanson, JM, Arnold, LE, Hechtman, LT, Owens, EB, Stehli, A, Abikoff, H, Hinshaw, SP, Molina, BSG, Mitchell, JT, Jensen, PS, Howard, AL, Lakes, KD, Pelham, WE, and MTA Cooperative Group, . "Defining ADHD symptom persistence in adulthood: optimizing sensitivity and specificity." Journal of child psychology and psychiatry, and allied disciplines 58.6 (June 2017): 655-662. Full Text

Swanson, JM, Arnold, LE, Molina, BSG, Sibley, MH, Hechtman, LT, Hinshaw, SP, Abikoff, HB, Stehli, A, Owens, EB, Mitchell, JT, Nichols, Q, Howard, A, Greenhill, LL, Hoza, B, Newcorn, JH, Jensen, PS, Vitiello, B, Wigal, T, Epstein, JN, Tamm, L, Lakes, KD, Waxmonsky, J, Lerner, M, Etcovitch, J, Murray, DW, Muenke, M, Acosta, MT, Arcos-Burgos, M, Pelham, WE, Kraemer, HC, and MTA Cooperative Group, . "Young adult outcomes in the follow-up of the multimodal treatment study of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder: symptom persistence, source discrepancy, and height suppression." Journal of child psychology and psychiatry, and allied disciplines 58.6 (June 2017): 663-678. Full Text

Weisner, TS, Murray, DW, Jensen, PS, Mitchell, JT, Swanson, JM, Hinshaw, SP, Wells, K, Hechtman, L, Molina, BSG, Arnold, LE, Sorensen, P, and Stehli, A. "Follow-Up of Young Adults With ADHD in the MTA: Design and Methods for Qualitative Interviews." Journal of attention disorders (June 2017): 1087054717713639-. Full Text

Jensen, PS, Yuki, K, Murray, D, Mitchell, JT, Weisner, T, Hinshaw, S, Molina, B, Swanson, J, Arnold, LE, Hechtman, L, and Wells, K. "Turning Points in the Lives of Youth of With/Without ADHD: Are They Linked to Changes in Substance Use?." Journal of attention disorders (April 2017): 1087054717700977-. Full Text

Mitchell, JT, Weisner, TS, Jensen, PS, Murray, DW, Molina, BSG, Arnold, EL, Hechtman, L, Swanson, JM, Hinshaw, SP, Victor, EC, Kollins, SH, Wells, KC, Belendiuk, KA, Blonde, A, Nguyen, C, Ambriz, L, and Nguyen, JL. "How Substance Users With ADHD Perceive the Relationship Between Substance Use and Emotional Functioning." Journal of attention disorders (February 2017): 1087054716685842-. Full Text

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, Nichols, JQ, and MTA Cooperative Group, . "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, and MTA Cooperative Group, . "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 and Adolescent Psychiatry 55.11 (November 2016): 937-944.e4. Full Text

Yaros, A, Lochman, JE, and Wells, KC. "Parental aggression as a predictor of boys' hostile attribution across the transition to middle school." International journal of behavioral development 40.5 (September 2016): 452-458. Full Text


Wells, KC. "Treatment of Adhd in Children and Adolescents." Handbook of Interventions that Work with Children and Adolescents: Prevention and Treatment. December 17, 2007. 343-368. Full Text

Selected Grants

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