Issue: June 2014
eNews from The Methodology Center

Saul ShiffmanMegan PiperStephanie LanzaA recently published special issue of Nicotine and Tobacco Research explores the use of ecological momentary assessments (EMA) in smoking research. The issue, "New Methods for Advancing Research on Tobacco Dependence Using Ecological Momentary Assessments," was edited by Stephanie Lanza, scientific director of The Methodology Center, Megan Piper, lead researcher at the Center for Tobacco Research and Intervention at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and Saul Shiffman, professor of psychology at the University of Pittsburgh. 


In their editorial, Elizabeth Ginexi, William Riley, Audie Atienza, and Patricia Mabry of the National Institutes of Health discuss the promise that these methods hold for behavioral health research outside of smoking research. The specific methods featured in the issue include time-varying effect models (TVEMs), multilevel models and their extension to predict intra-individual variability, and dynamical systems models. If you work with or want to learn more about EMA, this issue has something to offer.


Read more.


Open the special issue.  

David Conroy

In our latest podcast, host Aaron Wagner interviews David Conroy, professor of kinesiology and human development and family studies, and investigator at The Methodology Center. The discussion focuses on David's research on physical activity and sedentary behavior, how physical activity impacts our lives, and the technological opportunities and methodological challenges associated with collecting intensive longitudinal data. David's multiple projects with other Methodology Center investigators are also discussed.

Linda Collins

Several Methodology Center principal investigators have been recognized this spring. At the 2014 Society for Behavioral Medicine (SBM) Annual Meeting, Methodology Center Director Linda Collins was named a Fellow of SBM for her contributions to behavioral medicine. The Society for Prevention Research (SPR) awarded Donna Coffman the Early Career Award for her outstanding research contributions to prevention science. SPR also recognized Scientific Director Stephanie Lanza with the Friend of Early Career Prevention Network (ECPN) award, which is presented for "promoting training, funding, or early career involvement in prevention efforts; or encouraging early career preventionists in their work." Congratulations to all three!

Read more about Linda's work on optimizing behavioral interventions, Donna's work on causal inference, or Stephanie's work on latent class analysis.  

SPR award winners


Penn State-affiliated researchers won four awards at the SPR 2014 Annual Meeting. Along with Stephanie and Donna's awards, Brian Bumbarger of the Bennett Pierce Prevention Research Center won the Translational Science Award, and Lisa Wegner won the International Collaborative Prevention Research Award. Lisa, an associate professor at University of Western Cape in South Africa, won the award for her work with Penn State colleagues on Healthwise South Africa 

Susan Murphy
Sequential, multiple assignment, randomized trials (SMARTs) were developed to enable intervention scientists to build empirically based adaptive interventions. Methodology Center researchers Susan Murphy and Inbal Nahum-Shani contributed an essay on the importance of constructing adaptive interventions, referred to in the essay as "dynamic treatment regimes," and how to construct them using SMART. 


women checking smartphone during exercise

National Public Radio recently ran a story on their website about David Conroy's research on whether fitness apps for smartphones use scientifically grounded motivational techniques. David and his colleagues, as discussed in the podcast featured in this issue, concluded that most of the apps do NOT rely on proven motivational techniques.


Read the story.

Using a sequential, multiple assignment, randomized trial (SMART) design, a multi-site study found that speech-generating devices can improve communication for minimally verbal children with autism.

child using tablet


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