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Benjamin Van Voorhees

Benjamin Van Voorhees

University of Illinois, USA

Title: Technology based behavioral vaccines to prevent depression in Adolescents


Benjamin Van Voorhees, MD, MPH, is currently an Assistant Professor and the Interim Head of the Department of Pediatrics at the University of Illinois at Chicago Children’s Hospital. He received his BA in History from Dartmouth College, his Doctor of Medicine from Vanderbilt University, and his Master of Public Health from Johns Hopkins. He completed a Combined Internal Medicine-Pediatrics Residency at Vanderbilt University Hospital and a General Internal Medicine Fellowship at Johns Hopkins. He has received several grants ongoing research support (RDJF, NIMH, NARSAD, CMS, and CDC since 2002)—two will take special notice: (1) From NIH he has an R01 for Primary Care Internet-Based Depression Prevention for Adolescents (CATCH-IT) from 1/15/11-5/31/16. This a randomized clinical trial to determine if a primary care internet-based depression prevention intervention (CATCH-IT 2R) can build resiliency and protect adolescents (ages 13-17) against depression and strengthen their ability to attain their life goals. In 2014 his CMS grant, University of Illinois CHECK (Coordination of HEalthcare for Complex Kids) grant from 09/01/2014 - 08/31/2017 received total funding of $19,581,403. CHECK seeks to provide comprehensive, highly-innovative community-based care to 6000 children and young adults enrolled in Medicaid in Cook County, Illinois. CHECK is designed to improve care for populations with specialized needs, with a focus on the specific priority area of high-cost pediatric and young adult populations.


Efforts to prevent depression have become a key health system priority. Currently, there is a high prevalence of depression among adolescents, and treatment has become costly due to the recurrence patterns of the illness, impairment among patients, and the complex factors needed for a treatment to be effective. Primary care may be the optimal location to identify those at risk by offering an internet-based preventive intervention to reduce costs and improve outcomes. Few practical interventions have been developed. The models for Internet intervention development that have been put forward focus primarily on the Internet component rather than how the program fits within a broader context. This paper describes the conceptualization for developing technology based preventive models for primary care by integrating the components within a behavioral vaccine framework. CATCH-IT (Competent Adulthood Transition with Cognitive-behavioral, Humanistic and Interpersonal Training) has been developed and successfully implemented within various health systems over a period of 14 years among adolescents and young adults ages 13-24. We describe more than a decade of technology development, clinical trials and investigations into mechanisms of action for this “technology based behavioral vaccines”.