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.