ACBS Spotlight: 'ACT is Evidence-Based' says U.S. government agency

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In case you are wondering what this all means, here is a little background. 

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration is a division of the Department of Health and Human Services in the United States government.

But, perhaps more confusingly, SAMHSA's National Registry for Evidenced-based Programs and Practices is not limited to treatments that are specifically for substance abuse.  In fact, the requirements are broad and take into account several important facets, which can be viewed on the NREPP page. See below for details!

ABOUT NREPP (taken from the website):

The National Registry of Evidence-based Programs and Practices (NREPP) is a searchable online registry of mental health and substance abuse interventions that have been reviewed and rated by independent reviewers. The purpose of this registry is to assist the public in identifying approaches to preventing and treating mental and/or substance use disorders that have been scientifically tested and that can be readily disseminated to the field. NREPP is one way that SAMHSA is working to improve access to information on tested interventions and thereby reduce the lag time between the creation of scientific knowledge and its practical application in the field.

NREPP is a voluntary, self-nominating system in which intervention developers elect to participate. There will always be some interventions that are not submitted to NREPP, and not all that are submitted are reviewed. In addition, new intervention summaries are continually being added, so the registry is always growing. Please check back regularly to access the latest updates.

What Information Does NREPP Provide About Interventions?

NREPP publishes a report called an intervention summary on this Web site for every intervention it reviews. Each intervention summary includes:

  • General information about the intervention
  • A description of the research outcomes reviewed
  • Quality of Research and Readiness for Dissemination ratings
  • A list of studies and materials reviewed
  • Contact information to obtain more information about implementation or research

How Should NREPP Be Used?

NREPP can be a first step to promoting informed decisionmaking.

The information in NREPP intervention summaries is provided to help you begin to determine whether a particular intervention may meet your needs.
Direct conversations with intervention developers and others listed as contacts are advised before making any decisions regarding selection or implementation of an intervention.
A list of potential questions to ask developers (pdf) is available from NREPP to facilitate these conversations.
NREPP rates the quality of the research supporting intervention outcomes and the quality and availability of training and implementation materials.

NREPP ratings do not reflect an intervention's effectiveness. Users should carefully read the Key Findings sections in the intervention summary to understand the research results for each outcome.
NREPP does not provide an exhaustive list of interventions or endorsements of specific interventions.

Use of NREPP as an exhaustive list of interventions is not appropriate, since NREPP has not reviewed all interventions.
Policymakers and funders in particular are discouraged from limiting contracted providers and/or potential grantees to selecting only among NREPP interventions.
Review of interventions and their posting on the NREPP Web site do not constitute an endorsement, promotion, or approval of these interventions by NREPP or SAMHSA.


Good news. The United States Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) has now listed ACT as an empirically supported method as part of its National Registry of Evidence-based Programs and Practices (NREPP).

It is now available on the NREPP Web site at

This listing and report has been the work of an entire community over more than three years.

A graduate student of mine, Doug Long helped with the original submission in late 2007. In Spring 2008 SAMHSA decided ACT was ready for review for possible listing as an evidence-based procedure. In 2009 the review began. I served as coordinator; Jason Luoma coordinated in the area of dissemination; our Executive Director, Emily Rodrigues, and ACBS staffer Jen Plumb, and Doug pitched in, along with many other members of the Association and the Board in specific areas. Hundreds of emails and pages later we are finished with the process.

The materials were rated by a team of independent scholars contracted by the federal government. Many questions were asked -- they wanted to know a lot. They looked at our website, DVD, read books, and combed through research articles. A big part of the report is not just "is it evidence based" but also "can you implement it." Readiness for dissemination was a major part of the evaluation.

Now, finally, they have decided to list ACT and have issued a report on it.

I think it is a very good and fair characterization of where we are.
Our research evidence was scored 3.325 out of 4.
Our dissemination efforts received a perfect score of 4.0 on a 4.0 scale.

This should have an impact in the United States, especially with state agencies and the like.
This report can also be used worldwide to help with other agencies or individual who need evidence that ACT is evidence-based.

By the way could only submit a limited number empirical studies and some of the others were submitted for technical reasons (e.g., to show the measures used are valid). No need to go into that here except to say that there were reasons behind each of these decisions to submit certain things and not others.

Congratulations to us, gang

- S

Steven C. Hayes
Foundation Professor
Department of Psychology /298
University of Nevada
Reno, NV 89557-0062