Issue: April 2012

The Methodology Center
Penn State Lion Shrine


Featured Article: Designing Adaptive Health Interventions

Designing Adaptive Health Interventions
Adaptive health interventions are an increasingly important tool in behavioral health. They use individual characteristics (e.g., severity of condition, patient preferences) and individual outcomes (e.g., response, adherence to treatment) to tailor an intervention. Altering the intensity or type of treatment can be critical to patient success when an individual is not responding, and it can reduce cost and burden when intensive treatment is no longer necessary. Sequential, multiple assignment, randomized trials (SMARTs) provide the high-quality data needed to construct effective adaptive interventions. In a recent article in the Annual Review of Clinical Psychology, “A ‘SMART’ Design for Building Individual Treatment Sequences,” authors Huitan Lei, Susan Murphy, and their collaborators explain the application of SMARTs in constructing and revising adaptive interventions compared to alternative experimental designs.

Read more.

Listen to a podcast about SMART with Dr. Daniel Almirall.


Podcast: Using Propensity Scores in Causal Inference

Donna Coffman & Max Crowley
  Dr. Donna Coffman
As a preview of the upcoming Summer Institute, we recorded a podcast with Donna Coffman, Methodology Center Principal Investigator, and Max Crowley, doctoral candidate, on using propensity scores in causal inference when a study is not randomized.

Donna will present "Propensity Score Methods for Causal Inference" at this year’s Summer Institute on Innovative Methods. The Institute will describe statistical, methodological, and conceptual aspects of propensity score methods for causal inference. It will be held in State College, PA, on June 21-22, 2012, at the Penn Stater Conference Center and Hotel. Scholarships are available to qualified applicants.

Download the podcast.

Register for the Summer Institute. Last day to register is Monday, April 23!


New Methods for Tobacco Research

New Methods for Advancing Research on Tobacco Dependence
On March 13, methodologists and smoking researchers from across the United States participated in a workshop titled "New Methods for Advancing Research on Tobacco Dependence." The day-long session was part of the 2012 Society for Research on Nicotine and Tobacco (SRNT) Annual Meeting in Houston, Texas. The workshop focused on methods for analyzing ecological momentary assessment (EMA) data and other forms of intensive longitudinal data. Presentations from the workshop are now available online. Tobacco researchers included Saul Shiffman, Megan Piper, Tom Piasecki, Robin Mermelstein, Danielle McCarthy, and Lisa Dierker. Methodologists included Daniel Rivera, Runze Li, Stephanie Lanza, and Don Hedeker.

See the presentation list and download presentations.


Pilot Project: Preventing High-Risk Drinking and Sex Among College Students

Megan Patrick
  Dr. Megan Patrick
A "Methodology Center Collaborative Research Funding" project has been awarded to Megan Patrick, Research Assistant Professor, Institute for Social Research, University of Michigan. Dr. Patrick will work with Methodology Center researchers Linda Collins and Kari Kugler to establish a program of research based on the Multiphase Optimization Strategy (MOST). Her project, "Optimizing an Intervention Program Designed to Reduce High-Risk Alcohol Use and Sexual Behavior Among College Students," is designed to identify the most effective components and the optimal timing of an intervention for preventing risky behavior among college students on spring break.

Read more.



Society for Prevention Research (SPR)
A number of Methodology Center researchers will present at this year’s SPR annual meeting. We hope to see you in Washington, D.C., May 29-June 1!

Register for SPR.

Behavioral Interventions Slideshow
Unpacking the Black Box: Engineering More Potent Behavioral Interventions to Improve Public Health
Methodology Center Director Linda Collins, recipient of the 2011 Evan G. and Helen G. Pattishall Outstanding Research Achievement Award, delivered a lecture on the multiphase optimization strategy (MOST) on March 20, 2012. The slideshow, “Unpacking the Black Box: Engineering More Potent Behavioral Interventions to Improve Public Health,” describes the fundamentals of MOST.

View slideshow.

New website
We’re putting the finishing touches on a full website redesign. It will be live in a few weeks, so if you visit us, you’ll see the changes. The new site has a lot more information about our research and more resources for scientists who want to try them out. Questions or comments about the new site? Email

Follow us

Find us on Facebook View our profile on LinkedIn Follow us on Twitter

Methodology Minutes


The Methodology Center
204 East Calder Way, Suite 400
State College, PA 16801

Phone: 814-865-3253
Fax: 814-863-0000