Family Service Agency of San Francisco’s Felton Institute Receives $1.5 Million Award from PCORI Study will Evaluate a Tool for Patients and their Caregivers to Make Better Informed Decisions on Care

SAN FRANCISCO, CA (May 24, 2013) ─ The Patient‐Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) has approved a $1.5 million research award to Family Service Agency of San Francisco’s Felton Institute to research The Effectiveness of a Decision Support Tool for Adult Consumers with Mental Health Needs and their Care Managers. The three‐year study is part of a portfolio of patient‐centered research that addresses PCORI’s national research priorities and will provide clients with information that will help them make better informed decisions about their care and social service needs.

Erika Van Buren, Ph.D., Director of Research for the Felton Institute, will co‐lead the investigation with University of New Mexico’s Alya Reeve, M.D., M.P.H., Professor of Psychiatry, Neurology and Pediatrics. The project will compare patient‐centered outcomes in mental health care management using the “M‐ POWR” system (Managing Patient Outcomes Toward Wellness and Recovery), a cutting‐edge tool developed by the Felton Institute to improve patient experience and outcomes by increasing the client’s participation and decision‐making role in their individualized treatment.

The study serves as a benchmark in advancing treatment by emphasizing meaningful client involvement and providing valuable training to case managers on how to assess a client’s quality of life using a number of tools such as the Community Living Skills Scale, which measures a client’s social aptitudes and skills from personal relationships to vocational proficiencies. According to Dr. Van Buren, such assessment tools and approaches have never been used before at the case manager/social worker level.

“Our evidence‐based approach provides clients a path to meaningful and responsible engagement by introducing a tool that provides case managers and social workers a way to assess the client’s unique needs and goals and integrating them into meaningful services, benefits, and treatment options. When a client is uniquely vested in their own treatment that considers their life goals and needs, positive outcomes are a far more likely scenario which is our goal.”

The groundbreaking study provides care managers with structured mentoring allowing patients to express their priorities in achieving mental health and will be tested in both a diverse urban environment and among rural communities in San Francisco and New Mexico respectively.

The Family Service Agency of San Francisco’s Felton Institute and the University of New Mexico study is one of 51 PCORI‐approved projects totaling $88.6 million funding awarded by PCORI’s Board of  Governors on May 6. Only about 12% of the 400‐plus applications were selected through a highly competitive review process involving scientists, patients, caregivers, and other stakeholders.


Proposals were evaluated on the basis of scientific merit, how well they engage patients, their methodological rigor, and how well they fit within PCORI’s national research priorities. All awards in this most recent round of funding were approved pending completion of a business and programmatic review by PCORI staff and issuance of a formal award contract.

For more information about Family Service Agency of San Francisco and the Felton Institute, visit or



About Family Services Agency of San Francisco (FSA)
Founded in 1889, FSA is the largest nonsectarian provider of outpatient social services in the City and County of San Francisco. FSA provides comprehensive, state of the art, evidence‐based social services, including mental health treatment, in multiple languages, at locations throughout the City. Offering services at no cost or on a sliding scale, FSA provides family and individual counseling, family intervention, medical assessments, and mental health services for children, youth, couples, and families. For over 124 years, FSA has developed innovative human service programs to address San Francisco’s most pressing social needs. FSA’s Felton Institute, brings together the nation’s best academics and clinicians to provide state of the art evidence‐based research and training in innovative modalities of treatment.

The Patient‐Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) is an independent, non‐profit organization authorized by Congress in 2010. Its mission is to fund research that will provide patients, their caregivers and clinicians with the evidence‐based information needed to make better‐informed health care decisions. PCORI is committed to continuously seeking input from a broad range of stakeholders to guide its work. More information is available at