Principal Investigators’ New Websites

May 6, 2020:

Stephanie Lanza, Bethany Bray, Linda Collins, Susan Murphy, Runze LiAs previously announced, substantial changes lie ahead for The Methodology Center. Over the coming months, we will stop updating this website. Resources will remain available for at least a year, but in order to provide the latest information, each of our investigators will maintain her or his own website. These sites will include content developed at The Methodology Center and new resources related to the researcher’s future work.

Stephanie Lanza and Ashley Linden-Carmichael built a website for the Addictions and Innovative Methods (AIM) lab. Their great new site,, describes their research and includes the content about time-varying effect modeling (TVEM) from The Methodology Center’s website.

Susan Murphy has incorporated The Methodology Center’s content on just-in-time adaptive interventions in her website, The site also includes workshop materials and other resources.

Bethany Bray‘s new site at will include The Methodology Center’s resources for latent class analysis (LCA) and latent transition analysis (LTA). Bethany has concrete plans for new LCA and LTA resources, so stay tuned.

Runze Li will update his page at to incorporate Methodology Center resources on variable screening and variable selection for high-dimensional data analysis.

Linda Collins will build a new website to house The Methodology Center’s content on the multiphase optimization strategy (MOST) for optimizing interventions after she moves to New York University. In the meantime, follow Linda on Twitter, @collins_most.

Daniel Almirall and Inbal “Billie” Nahum-Shani’s informative website,, will soon incorporate The Methodology Center’s resources for the sequential, multiple assignment, randomized trial (SMART).

More information will follow in June or July. Thank you for staying connected to our research! We are all proud of our time at The Methodology Center and very excited about the future.

Video: Webinar on Factorial Experiments

February 18, 2020:

Watch the video of our most recent 1 & 1 webinar on factorial experiments. In this 90+ minute video, Methodology Center Director Linda M. Collins introduces factorial experiments. The webinar was recorded on February 05, 2020.

In her work on optimizing interventions using the multiphase optimization strategy (MOST), Linda explains that factorial experiments can be very efficient in certain situations. Intervention designers should carefully consider which type of experimental design they will use (rather than defaulting to a randomized controlled trial without considering other designs).

Watch the video on YouTube.

Podcast: Preventing Child Maltreatment with Kate Guastaferro

Kate GuastaferroFebruary 3, 2020:

In this brief and inspiring podcast, Methodology Center Research Associate Kate Guastaferro talks about her research on preventing child maltreatment and on the multiphase optimization strategy (MOST) for optimizing interventions. Kate came to Penn State as a postdoctoral fellow in the Prevention and Methodology Training (PAMT) program. She discusses how her training has led her to work towards the elimination of sexual abuse.

Podcast timeline:

00:00—introductions and Kate’s background
01:43—Kate’s work at The Methodology Center
02:34—Defining the multiphase optimization strategy (MOST)
03:54—Kate’s work on preventing child maltreatment in Pennsylvania
07:50—Research and results so far from the child sexual abuse intervention
11:07—How MOST influences Kate’s work in child sexual abuse prevention
12:42—Resistance to research on sexual abuse
14:20—What everyone should know about sexual abuse
15:52—Future plans

Download podcast 36

Upcoming Webinar on Factorial Experiments

Linda M. Collins, Ph.D.January 14 2020:

In our next 1 & 1 webinar,  Methodology Center Director Linda M. Collins will present an introduction to factorial experiments. Our 1 & 1 webinars consist of a one-hour live video presentation on a method followed by a one-hour question-and-answer session with the presenter. The webinar will be held on Wednesday, February 5, 2020 from 3:00 to 5:00 p.m. Eastern Time.

Factorial experiments are sometimes used in research projects that follow the multiphase optimization strategy (MOST), an engineering-inspired framework for designing efficacious, effective, efficient, economical, and scalable behavioral and biobehavioral interventions. MOST relies heavily on efficient experimental design, and factorial experiments are often the most efficient design because they can provide the most statistical power with the fewest subjects (which may be counterintuitive to those who have been trained primarily in the randomized clinical trial). Factorial experiments with three or more factors, though not yet common in behavioral research, are a regular practice in the engineering design process. This webinar will be applicable for researchers from a broad array of disciplines.

To join, click when the webinar is starting. Registration in advance is not necessary, but participation will be limited to 500 people.

Interest Group for Optimizing Interventions at SBM

Linda M. CollinsSeptember 27, 2019:
If you are interested in Linda M. Collins‘ research on the optimization of interventions and the multiphase optimization strategy (MOST), then you might be interested in the Society of Behavioral Medicine’s Optimization of Behavioral and Biobehavioral Interventions (OBBI) special interest group. The Society of Behavioral Medicine (SBM) is dedicated to to “providing new perspectives and progress on human behavior, health, and illness.” The OBBI special interest group provides opportunities for behavioral scientists and methodologists to network and discuss the optimization of behavioral and biobehavioral interventions. Questions? Contact OBBI Chair Sara St. George.

Lear more about SBM.

“MOST-ly Mingling” at SPR

May 1, 2019:

Kate GuastaferroMethodology Center Investigator Kate Guastaferro will host an informal gathering during the Society for Prevention Research 2019 Annual Meeting to socialize and network with people considering or applying the multiphase optimization strategy (MOST). The gathering will be held on Wednesday, May 29, at 7:00 p.m. at the Eclipse Kitchen & Bar in the Hyatt Regency San Francisco and is open to anyone who is interested. Kate will answer questions about MOST and facilitate connections between researchers with similar interests. We hope you can make it!

Join Us at SPR!

April 30, 2019:

Join us at the Society for Prevention Research (SPR) 2019 Annual Meeting, May 28 through 31 in San Francisco. Methodology Center researchers will present symposia, talks, posters, a technical demonstration, and participate in the SPR Cup. We hope to see you there! Below is a list of the places where you can find us.

Tuesday, May 28

5:30 – 7:00 p.m. Poster Session I

  • “Heavy drinking and academics: Daily-level associations, or do less serious students just drink more?” Hannah Allen
  • “Profiles of dysregulation moderate the impact of preschool teacher-student relationships on later school functioning” Benjamin Bayly
  • “Identifying substance use disorders among individuals with spinal cord injury: Using big data Sources via electronic health records” Scott Graupensperger
  • “Effects of a mindfulness training intervention on alcohol use in public school teachers” Natalia Van Doren

Wednesday, May 29

1:15 – 2:45 p.m. Roundtable: Enhancing the reach and impact of drug abuse and behavioral health preventive interventions: Mining existing data for bold new discoveries Stephanie Lanza, Discussant

5:45 – 7:00 p.m. Poster Session II

  • “Approaches to characterizing drinking episodes in college students from wearable alcohol sensors” John Felt
  • “Gender differences in the time-varying association between cigarette use and weight concerns across adolescence” Anna Hochgraf
  • “Drug use patterns among young men of color who have sex with men” Eric Layland

7:00 –8:30 MOST-ly Mingling Join Kate Guastaferro in the Eclipse Kitchen & Bar, located in the lobby of the Hyatt Regency San Francisco, to socialize and discuss issues related to the optimization of interventions.

Thursday, May 30

10:15 – 11:45 a.m. Organized Paper Symposium: Opioid and other nonmedical prescription drug use in the United States: Contemporary trends in use, co-use, and correlates to identify opportunities for prevention Stephanie Lanza, organizer

  • “Contemporary trends in nonmedical prescription drug use as a function of individual and sociodemographic characteristics: Ages 12 to 90” Stephanie Lanza
  • “Age-varying trends in co-use of marijuana and heavy episodic drinking: Implications for nonmedical prescription drug use” Ashley Linden-Carmichael

10:15 – 11:45 a.m. Sloboda and Bukoski Cup Team:  Hannah Allen, Andrew Dismukes, John Felt, Natalia Van Doren, and Adrienne Woods

10:15 – 11:45 a.m. Roundtable Discussion: SPR task force on reducing health disparities and improving equity through prevention Bethany Bray, Discussant

3:00 – 4:30 p.m. Individual paper presentations: Prevention related to drug abuse across developmental stage Bethany Bray, Moderator

3:00 – 4:30 p.m. Individual paper presentations:Family, individual, and neighborhood risk factors as predictors of long-term behavior and mental health problems 

  • “Constellations of family risk and long-term adolescent antisocial behavior: A latent profile analysis” Emily LoBracio

6:40 – 7:55 p.m. Poster Session III

  • Technology Demonstration: Software, instructional materials, videos, and other resources from The Methodology Center at Penn State Bethany Bray

Friday May 31

8:30 – 10:00 a.m. Organized Paper Symposium: Applying latent class models in prevention science: Practical solutions to everyday problems Bethany Bray, Organizer

  • “Multiple imputation of missing covariate information in latent class analysis: evaluation of a step-by-step approach” John Dziak
  • “Multilevel latent profile analysis for daily diary data: Understanding triadic family dynamics” Mengya Xia
  • “Combining latent class analysis and time-varying effect modeling: Understanding the epidemiology of alcohol use” Bethany Bray

8:30 – 10:00 a.m. Individual Paper Presentations: using mobile health techniques to understand and prevent substance use

  • “Day and within-day trends of drug cravings: Ecological momentary assessment among a sample of patients with prescription opiate dependence” Jamie Gajos

10:15 – 11:45 a.m. Plenary Session III, Mobile health (mHealth) in prevention science: Assessment, intervention, and analysis Stephanie Lanza, Chair

1:00 – 2:30 p.m. Plenary Session III Roundtable: Mobile health (mHealth) in prevention science: Assessment, intervention, and analysis Stephanie Lanza, Chair

2:45 – 4:15 p.m. Organized Paper Symposium: Using time-varying effect models to understand predictors of substance use and depression within-days and across developmental periods Benjamin Bayly, Organizer

  • “Age-varying association between childhood maltreatment and depression and substance use” Yuen Wai Hung
  • “Age-varying effects of parental warmth and closeness on adolescent and young adult substance use and depression” Benjamin Bayly

Applications Open for May 2019 Training on Optimization

December 1, 2018:Linda M. Collins

Apply now to attend the Training on Optimization of Behavioral and Biobehavioral Interventions in Bethesda, Maryland on May 13-17, 2019. The goal of this five-day training is to help attendees gain the skills they need to use the multiphase optimization strategy (MOST) to optimize behavioral and biobehavioral interventions. This training is designed for those at any career level who have a terminal degree and who are planning to pursue, or have pursued, funding to conduct research involving MOST.

Methodology Center Investigators Linda Collins and Kate Guastaferro will serve as instructors.  Angela Pfammatter and Heather Wasser, alumni of MOST training who have applied experience with MOST, will serve as associate instructors.

Topics to be covered 

  • multiphase optimization strategy (MOST): preparation, optimization, and evaluation
  • development of a conceptual model
  • design of optimization trials, with an emphasis on factorial designs
  • power for optimization trials
  • selection of the components that will comprise the optimized intervention, based on optimization trial results
  • analysis of data from an optimization trial using either SAS or R
  • practical aspects of conducting optimization trials in varied field settings
  • obtaining funding for optimization projects

Applications are closed

Using REDCap to Manage Data With MOST

November 26, 2018:
red baseball cap

When following the multiphase optimization strategy (MOST) to build an intervention, it is often most efficient to conduct an optimization trial using an experimental design that requires management of many more conditions than would be necessary in the typical two- or three-arm randomized controlled trial (RCT). Examples are traditional factorial experiments and sequential, multiple assignment, randomized trials (SMARTs). Running an experiment with numerous conditions can be daunting to researchers who are accustomed to RCTs. To facilitate the smooth management of data from a variety of types of optimization trials, we asked Chuck Cleland at New York University to develop the guide to Research Electronic Data Capture (REDCap) for MOST.

REDCap is a secure web application for building and managing online surveys and databases. REDCap’s user-friendly web-based interface makes it an excellent tool for data management. Chuck Cleland’s excellent guide will help you use REDCap to manage complex optimization trials efficiently. The website includes text description, REDCap’s videos, and an example factorial experiment with screenshots. This resource will help interested scientists to organize, run, and track their experiments in the optimization phase of MOST.

Open the guide.

Linda Collins to Give Schmitt Russell Research Lecture

October 31, 2018:lmc

Methodology Center Director Linda M. Collins will present the talk, “Bringing Health and Education Interventions into the 21st Century,” for the 2018 Schmitt Russell Research Lecture. The talk is open to the public and will be given at 4:00 p.m. on Wednesday, November 7, in the Bennett Pierce Living Center on Penn State’s University Park campus. The lecture is part of the Pauline Schmitt Russell Distinguished Career Award from Penn State’s College of Health and Human Development, which Linda was awarded in 2017.

Linda’s research focuses on experimental and non-experimental design, particularly for building, optimizing, and evaluating health and education interventions. In this talk, Linda will explore how the methods that scientists use for intervention design can be improved by implementing concepts borrowed from the engineering design process.

Linda and her collaborators have been developing these ideas in the mutliphase optimization strategy (MOST) for optimizing interventions over the last 15 years. In 2018, Linda authored one book and edited another about MOST in order to make these ideas more broadly available, clear, and applicable.

Read more about MOST.

MOST Teachers’ Corner: New Resource for Teaching and Learning

October 2, 2018:most: new resource

The MOST Teachers’ Corner provides resources for instructors who want to incorporate instruction on the multiphase optimization strategy (MOST) into methods courses. The download will enable instructors to easily prepare a presentation that introduces MOST during one class session. The MOST Teachers’ Corner includes a PowerPoint presentation and recommended readings. Linda Collins crafted the PowerPoint using her extensive experience presenting MOST to new audiences. The slides are designed to make comprehending and presenting MOST as easy as possible.

We also have available Teachers’ Corners for latent class analysis (LCA) and time varying effect modeling (TVEM).

Download the Teachers’ Corner or read more.

Podcast: New Book on Advanced Topics in MOST

August 8, 2018:lc18karik
In podcast 33, Methodology Center Director Linda Collins and Faculty Affiliate Kari Kugler discuss the new book from Springer that they edited, Optimization of Behavioral, ​Biobehavioral, and Biomedical Interventions: Advanced Topics. This is the second book on the multiphase optimization strategy (MOST) to be published this year. MOST is an engineering-based framework for optimizing interventions that has been developed by Linda and her collaborators over the past 14 years. In this podcast, Linda and Kari explain the concepts behind and rationale for each of the chapters in the book. Both the book and the podcast explore topics ranging from the development of a conceptual model to the use of concepts from control systems engineering.

Download podcast 33

Download podcast 31 (about the introductory MOST book).


00:00 – Introduction
01:08 – The differences between the two books on MOST
02:19 – Developing a conceptual model for an intervention
04:54 – Factorial experiments and types of experimental designs
08:35 – Multi-level factorial designs
10:11 – Adaptive interventions and MOST
11:38 – Control systems engineering in MOST
13:29 – Coding data for analysis
16:00 – Cost effectiveness analysis in MOST
18:25 – Mediation analysis in MOST
20:00 – The future of MOST


Collins, L. M., & Kugler, K. C. (2018). Optimization of behavioral, biobehavioral, and biomedical interventions: Advanced topics. New York, NY: Springer.

Collins, L. M. (2018). Optimization of behavioral, biobehavioral, and biomedical interventions: The multiphase optimization strategy (MOST). New York, NY: Springer.

Audiobook Excerpt: Preface to Linda Collins’ Book on MOST

May 17,2018:lmc

In this special edition podcast, Methodology Center Director Linda Collins reads the preface to her new book from Springer, Optimization of Behavioral, Biobehavioral, and Biomedical Interventions: The Multiphase Optimization Strategy (MOST). MOST is an engineering-based framework for optimizing interventions, developed by Linda and her collaborators over the past 14 years. In the preface, Linda explains the problem with the current state of intervention research and describes what MOST is and how it can help us address the problem. Then, she explains the content of the book. For researchers who are interested in optimizing interventions, this podcast succinctly introduces the need for and advantages of MOST; the podcast will enable listeners to decide whether to read the entire book.

Download the podcast.


Collins, L. M. (2018). Optimization of behavioral, biobehavioral, and biomedical Interventions: The multiphase optimization strategy (MOST). New York, NY: Springer. Visit Springer’s website.

Apply for Free Consulting on Optimizing Your Intervention

April 2, 2018:lmc3

The Methodology Center is pleased to offer free consulting sessions for scientists interested in the multiphase optimization strategy (MOST). MOST is an approach to the development, optimization, and evaluation of behavioral, biobehavioral, and biomedical interventions. Developed by Linda Collins and colleagues at The Methodology Center, MOST has been applied in over 20 NIH-funded projects across a number of public health areas, and interest in this approach is growing. We offer many introductory materials for MOST, including introductory videos, resources for factorial experiments and other types of optimization trials, and free software packages in SAS and R.

Despite the availability of introductory resources, we recognize that intervention scientists who have read about MOST and wish to apply it in their work may have specific questions pertaining to their planned project. For this reason, we invite interested researchers to apply for a free consulting session on MOST.

During these one-hour sessions, we will help you identify the best steps for you/your research team. We can provide guidance to your research team as you move through the phases of MOST, from building a knowledge base and conceptual model in the Preparation phase, to planning the most efficient and appropriate experiment in the Optimization phase, to whether and how to conduct a randomized controlled trial during the Evaluation phase. Due to staffing constraints, we may not be able to meet with every applicant, but we will respond to all requests within two weeks. Priority will be given to projects that have a clear research goal and a realistic submission timeline (i.e., not a tight deadline).

If you would like to apply, please first read the first two chapters of this book and/or this article. (Journal access required)

Collins, L. M. (2018). Optimization of Behavioral, Biobehavioral, and Biomedical Interventions: The Multiphase Optimization Strategy (MOST). New York, NY: Springer.

Collins, L. M., Kugler, K. C., & Gwadz, M. V. (2016). Optimization of multicomponent behavioral and biobehavioral interventions for the prevention and treatment of HIV/AIDS. AIDS and Behavior20(1), 197-214.

We recommend applying for a consulting session early in your planning, even before you have decided which specific funding announcement you will be responding to. Ideally, we suggest submitting an application for consulting several months prior to your grant proposal submission deadline. For larger grant applications, we encourage more lead time.

To apply, please submit an application.

Podcast: New Book on MOST With Linda Collins

February 26, 2018:lc18
In this podcast, Methodology Center Director Linda Collins discusses her new book from Springer, Optimization of Behavioral, Biobehavioral, and Biomedical Interventions: The Multiphase Optimization Strategy (MOST). MOST is an engineering-based framework for optimizing interventions that has been developed by Linda and her collaborators over the past 14 years. In the podcast, she describes how MOST can help advance intervention research. She then explains the structure of MOST, using an example from an intervention to help overweight adults lose weight. Finally, she discusses why now is the right time for this book to be published.

Download the podcast


00:00 – Introduction
00:50 – The problem with the status quo in intervention design
03:04 – Defining “optimization” and “MOST”
06:57 – Describing the phases of MOST
07:39 – The preparation phase
11:26 – The optimization phase
15:54 – The evaluation phase
19:22 – How Linda’s thinking about MOST has evolved
21:23 – Why is now the right time for this book?

References for the Book and the Articles Discussed in the Podcast

Collins, L. M. (2018). Optimization of behavioral, biobehavioral, and biomedical Interventions: The multiphase optimization strategy (MOST). New York, NY: Springer.

Pellegrini, C. A., Hoffman, S. A., Collins, L. M., & Spring, B. (2014). Optimization of remotely delivered intensive lifestyle treatment for obesity using the multiphase optimization strategy: Opt-IN study protocol. Contemporary Clinical Trials, 38(2), 251-259.

Pellegrini, C. A., Hoffman, S. A., Collins, L. M., & Spring, B. (2015). Corrigendum to “Optimization of remotely delivered intensive lifestyle treatment for obesity using the multiphase optimization strategy: Opt-IN study protocol.” Contemporary Clinical Trials, 45, 468-469.

New Book on the Optimization of Interventions

February 19, 2018:book

We are pleased to announce the availability of a new book by Methodology Center Director Linda M. Collins. Optimization of Behavioral, Biobehavioral, and Biomedical Interventions: The Multiphase Optimization Strategy (MOST), published by Springer, is available through Springer’s website and other online booksellers, and it can be downloaded through Springerlink.

In the preface of the book, Linda explains one of the most fundamental problems facing intervention researchers.

In the United States and worldwide, billions of dollars have been spent to develop interventions to prevent and treat health problems, promote health and well-being, prevent violence, improve learning, promote academic achievement, and generally improve the human condition. Numerous interventions are in use that are successful in the sense that they have demonstrated a statistically and clinically significant effect in a randomized controlled trial (RCT). However, many are less successful in terms of progress toward solving problems. In fact, after decades of research, as a society we continue to struggle with the very issues these interventions have been designed to ameliorate. Only very slow progress is being made in many areas; in some, the problem continues to worsen. (p. vii)

As an example, Linda points to the current obesity crisis in the United States.

One of the Center for Disease Control’s “Healthy People 2010” goals was to reduce the prevalence of adult obesity from the 2000 baseline of 23% down to 15%. Unfortunately, by 2010 adult obesity had increased to 34%. This is a serious issue for American society; according to Finkelstein et al. (2009), the medical care costs of obesity in the United States are $147 billion per year (in 2008 dollars). The healthy people 2020 goal is to reduce adult obesity to 30.5%. On the one hand, this would be a 10% reduction from the 2010 prevalence; on the other hand, it is higher than the 2000 base rate. (p. vii)

In other words, despite the millions of dollars used to study and intervene on obesity, the crisis has only intensified. This illustrates of the lack of progress in interventions that led Linda and her collaborators to develop MOST, a framework for designing and optimizing interventions. MOST draws on concepts from the engineering design process to improve the experimental design process for interventions. MOST prioritizes efficiency and careful resource management in order to improve interventions systematically.

MOST emphasizes continual improvement of interventions, even after they have been deployed. MOST could lead to interventions that improve steadily over time, in much the same way that automobiles have become much safer, more fuel efficient, and longer lasting than automobiles manufactured many years ago.

In the book, Linda explains the three phases of MOST, how MOST differs from the classical approach to intervention design, and the advantages of implementing MOST. When asked about why this was the right time for a book on MOST, Linda said, “My collaborators and I have been developing MOST for more than 10 years, and though we’ve published a lot of journal articles about MOST, they were scattered in different journals and different literatures. At the same time, I was giving workshops on MOST and realizing that I couldn’t cover every important topic, even in a multi-day workshop. That made it clear that the time was right for a comprehensive introduction to MOST. I am confident that researchers will be able to read this book and understand how to leverage MOST to improve intervention design. Additionally, I co-edited a book on advanced topics related to MOST that will be available from Springer later in 2018.”

Read more or order the book.

Download the book through Springerlink. (Springerlink access required.)



Collins, L. M. (2018). Optimization of Behavioral, Biobehavioral, and Biomedical Interventions: The Multiphase Optimization Strategy (MOST). New York, NY: Springer.