Issue: July 2012

eNews from The Methodology Center


Call for Papers: Special Issue of Nicotine and Tobacco Research

Nicotine and Tobacco Research

Inspired by the pre-conference workshop at their annual meeting in March, the Society for Research on Nicotine and Tobacco is planning to produce a special issue on research methods in its journal, Nicotine and Tobacco Research. The issue, "New Methods for Advancing Research on Tobacco Dependence Using Ecological Momentary Assessments" will be devoted to collecting and analyzing ecological momentary assessments (EMA) data to advance research on tobacco use, dependence, and treatment.

The special issue will acquaint the readers of Nicotine and Tobacco Research with the potential for EMA data--particularly when analyzed using innovative methodological techniques--to address complex questions regarding the etiology of tobacco use, the development of dependence, withdrawal phenomena, treatment effects, and the relapse process. Authors interested in having a manuscript considered for this special issue should submit a one-page proposal by October 1, 2012. Manuscripts should be written for a broad audience.

Read the full call.


New Software for Building Adaptive Health Interventions


We are pleased to announce the release of PROC QLEARN, a SAS procedure for building adaptive health interventions. PROC QLEARN was developed by the Methodology Center to analyze data from sequential, multiple assignment, randomized trials (SMARTs). This software will help researchers build interventions that adapt at the right times to improve participant outcomes (e.g., intensifying for people who do not respond to initial treatment) while decreasing the cost and burden of the intervention (e.g., stepping down treatment for responsive participants).

SMART designs were developed by Methodology Center Investigator Susan Murphy and her collaborators to provide the information needed to construct high-quality adaptive interventions. The procedure uses a generalization of Q-learning, a method developed in computer science, which allows treatments and covariates to vary over time.

Read more or download the software.


Featured Article: Curbing Dangerous Drinking and Sexual Behavior During Spring Break

Curbing Dangerous Drinking and Sexual Behavior During Spring Break

Multiple studies have shown that going on a trip with friends during spring break is a risk factor for behaviors such as dangerous drinking and sex. In a new article in the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs, Research Assistant Professor´┐Żat the Institute for Social Research and Methodology Center Investigator Megan Patrick and coauthor Christine Lee examined data from 261 undergraduates and found that students had greater odds of engaging in risky sex when they possessed greater pre-spring break intentions to have sex, and when they had a stronger sense that sex on spring break is common among their peers.

This study is part of a larger project in which Megan is designing an intervention to prevent risky behavior during spring break. She was recently awarded a Methodology Center pilot project to build a highly effective intervention using the multiphase optimization strategy (MOST).

Read more.


New Grant: Marital Communication Following a Health Diagnosis

Rachel Smith

Marital communication about a genetic test result may influence the overall well-being of the person who has been diagnosed, his or her spouse, and the couple. A team of researchers led by Rachel Smith, associate professor of communication arts and sciences and investigator at The Methodology Center, recently received a grant to examine this phenomenon with the goal of designing future couple-based interventions. The research team also includes Methodology Center Investigator Donna Coffman.

Read more.



Small Change to Our Download Process

If you previously downloaded any Methodology Center software, you may notice a change the next time you download: we recently instituted an end-user license agreement (EULA).´┐ŻEverything is still free, and you are welcome to use the software however you like.

Read the (short) EULA.


Images from the Summer Institute

Donna Coffman

This June, Donna Coffman led The Methodology Center’s 17th annual Summer Institute on Innovative Methods, funded by NIDA. If you couldn’t be there, you can listen to Donna’s podcast on propensity scores, or you can check out the photos from the institute.


Congratulations to Penn State’s SPR Cup Team

Penn State's SPR Cup Team

At the Society for Prevention Research (SPR) Annual Meeting in June, the Penn State team won the Sloboda & Bukoski SPR cup.

Read the story.


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