NIH: Office of Disease Prevention

Medicine: Mind the Gap National Institute of Health Seminar Series

Raising the Bar: Engineering Optimized Behavioral Interventions for Increased Public Health Impact

Linda M. Collins, Ph.D.
Director, The Methodology Center
Professor, Department of Human Development and Family Studies and Department of Statistics
The Pennsylvania State University

Tuesday, March 26, 2013
Building 45 (Natcher), Balcony B
NIH Campus | Bethesda, Maryland


Cosponsored by:

National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism

About the Seminar

Dr. Collins discussed why behavioral interventions are important in many areas of public health, for example, smoking cessation, drug abuse prevention, treatment of obesity, management of heart failure symptoms, and promotion of physical activity. Behavioral interventions are typically developed and evaluated using a treatment package approach, in which the intervention is assembled a priori and evaluated by means of a randomized controlled trial (RCT). In this talk, she reviewed an alternative approach called the Multiphase Optimization Strategy (MOST), an engineering-inspired framework for developing, optimizing, and evaluating behavioral interventions. MOST includes the RCT, as well as other empirical steps aimed at intervention optimization. Dr. Collins proposed that MOST offers several benefits, including the possibility of engineering behavioral interventions to meet explicit criteria of effectiveness and/or efficiency. Once the criteria have been met for a particular intervention, the bar can be raised to aim for ever-increasing public health impact.

About Linda Collins, Ph.D.

Dr. Collins is professor of human development and family studies and professor of statistics at The Pennsylvania State University (Penn State). She is also director of The Methodology Center, an interdisciplinary research center devoted to the advancement and dissemination of quantitative methods for applications in the behavioral sciences. Since 1996, she has been director of a National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) Center of Excellence, the Center for Prevention and Treatment Methodology. Her research also is funded by the National Cancer Institute and the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. She is currently codirector of the NIDA-funded Prevention and Methodology Training Program. Dr. Collins’s research interests include analysis of longitudinal data, particularly latent class approaches, and engineering-inspired methods for improving behavioral interventions. Recently, she has been active in working on MOST, a methodological framework for optimizing and evaluating behavioral interventions. Her peer-reviewed publications have appeared in a wide range of outlets, including methodological journals such as Psychological Methods, substance use journals such as Nicotine and Tobacco Research, behavioral health journals such as Annals of Behavioral Medicine, and engineering journals such as IEEE Transactions on Control Systems Technology. She has coedited several books and special issues of journals. Dr. Collins is a fellow of the American Psychological Association and the Association for Psychological Science. She was a core member of the Tobacco Etiology Research Network funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Her awards include the Cattell Award for Distinguished Multivariate Behavioral Research, the President’s Award from the Society for Prevention Research, Penn State’s Faculty Scholar Medal, and Penn State’s Pattishall Outstanding Research Achievement Award. She is a past president of the Society of Multivariate Experimental Psychology and the Society for Prevention Research.

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