Research, Data Evaluation, and Compliance Unit

The Research, Data Evaluation, and Compliance Unit (the Data Unit) is a centralized unit within BHDDH which works with all three divisions.

The Unit is comprised of 17 employees who are: 

• Data Scientists and Analysts

Public Health Epidemiologists and Program Evaluators

Subject Matter Experts

Published Researchers

Database Managers


Administrative Support


The Data Unit supports and provides BHDDH with:

• Data collection

• Data analysis

• Database development and management

• Program evaluation

• Data visualizations and dashboards

• Reporting

• Grant writing

• HIT coordination

• Research collaborations with state agencies and local universities

The Data Unit utilizes the RI Behavioral Health On-line Data (RI-BHOLD) system:

  • In BHOLD, treatment providers enter an assessment with program and date information for all clients who enter treatment. It includes but is not limited to demographic information (race, gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation), housing and employment status, co-occurring conditions, diagnoses, substance misuse information, and more.
  • Currently, there are more than 40 licensed providers of behavioral health treatment (mental health and/or substance use) who enter data in BHOLD. 
  • BHOLD data are used for federal reporting (TEDs substance use reporting and URS/MH CLD mental health reporting), MACPRO health home reporting, program and grant evaluation, research with other state agencies and academic partners, public facing resources like Prevent Overdose RI, and other internal tracking of important outcomes and metrics.
  • RI-BHOLD has treatment data dating back to the 1970’s. Data collected for RI-BHOLD generally follow federal guidelines set by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). SAMHSA publishes RI and all other state’s data related to substance use disorders as the Treatment Episode Data Set (TEDS) and data related to mental health as mental health client-level data (MH-CLD).
  • Overall, data from RI-BHOLD provide policy makers and other stakeholders with an understanding of the population demographics and mental health and substance use service utilization of our licensed providers who serve individuals with the most acute behavioral healthcare needs.

  • While there is overlap between mental health and substance use programs, approximately 17,000 clients receive substance use services and 30,000 clients receive mental health services each year.

A PDF of the RI-BHOLD data codebook can be found here.

Research Opportunities

The Department of Behavioral Healthcare, Developmental Disabilities and Hospitals (BHDDH) may accept proposals for new studies from external researchers. Researchers may complete and submit an application to request de-identified service level data from the RI Behavioral Health On-Line Data (RI-BHOLD) and/or match study participants to their RI-BHOLD records.

Preference will be given to applications that improve the lives of Rhode Islanders who live with or are at risk for developing a substance use or mental health condition. All applications are reviewed by a committee identified by the administrator of BHDDH’s Research, Data Evaluation, and Compliance (RDEC) Unit for scientific value, the expected contribution to study participants, and the community. If the application is approved, BHDDH will provide a letter of support for the external researcher’s grant application, upon request.

How to Apply

Contact the RDEC Unit to discuss your ideas prior to submitting an application at:

Once an application has been approved, it should be submitted to the researcher’s Institutional Review Board (IRB). Approved researchers may also be required to sign a Data Use Agreement with BHDDH.

BHDDH Collaboration

It may be beneficial to explore collaborative opportunities in light of BHDDH staffs’ experience and familiarity with the study population and data.

Financial Support

BHDDH does not provide financial support to external researchers. However, we may provide in-kind support to approved projects.