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

Introduction to Time-Varying Effect Modeling (TVEM) for Graduate Students and Postdoctoral Researchers

June 12,2018:tvem for grads

​We are pleased to offer the workshop, “Understanding Age-Related Changes Using the Time-Varying Effect Model”. TVEM allows researchers use several types of data to model the way associations between variables change over time. The workshop will present the concepts and applications of TVEM in order to give Penn State graduate students and postdoctoral researchers an efficient way to assess TVEM’s potential for their research. Lunch will be included.

Addressing Age-Related Change Using the Time-Varying Effect Model
PRESENTERS: Stephanie Lanza, Director of The Edna Bennett Pierce Prevention Research Center and professor of Biobehavioral Health and Ashley Linden-Carmichael, assistant research professor of Biobehavioral Health
WHEN: Tuesday, July 24, 2018, 10 a.m. – 2 p.m.
WHERE: Bennett Pierce Living Center, 110 Henderson Building

Introduction to TVEM is co-sponsored by the Social Science Research Institute (SSRI), The Methodology Center, and The Edna Bennett Pierce Prevention Research Center and is part of SSRI’s Innovative Methods Initiative. The workshop is FREE and open to all graduate students at Penn State. Registration is required and space is limited. To register, email Tammy Knepp (

The four-hour workshop will include

  • a conceptual introduction to TVEM, a highly flexible approach to estimate dynamic associations between covariates and outcomes;
  • motivating examples modeling age-related changes in substance-use behavior and its correlates;
  • open discussion of how TVEM might be applied in your research; and
  • demonstrations in SAS with sample code to modify for future use.

Who should attend?
We encourage you to register if you are a Penn State graduate student or postdoctoral researcher who wishes to learn more about the way processes unfold over time, and who is interested in addressing questions about age-related change using data from cross-sectional or panel studies.

Questions? Contact Tammy Knepp (

Free, Two-Hour, Online Workshop on Micro-Randomized Trials

April 10, 2018:susanm

For our next 1 & 1 workshop, Methodology Center Investigator Susan Murphy will present an introduction to the micro-randomized trial (MRT). 1 & 1 workshops consist of a one-hour live video presentation on a method followed by a one-hour question-and-answer session with the presenter. After the presentation, Susan will accept questions via instant message and answer them live. The workshop will be held on Thursday, June 14, from 3:00 to 5:00 p.m. Eastern Time.

In an MRT, individuals are randomized hundreds or thousands of times over the course of a study. The goal of these trials is to assess the proximal, in-the-moment, impact of interventions (e.g., interventions that are intended to impact behavior over small time intervals). Through MRTs we can gather data to build optimized just-in-time adaptive interventions (JITAIs). A JITAI is a special type of adaptive intervention that can be delivered exactly when and where it is needed using smartphones and other mobile devices for their sensors and ability to communicate with patients.

The 1 & 1 will be hosted via Zoom webinar at The workshop can accommodate up to 500 participants, so all interested people should be able to attend. If you try to attend the workshop but are unable to log on for any reason, please send an email to We hope you will join us.

Video: Two-Hour Webinar on Latent Transition Analysis

April 10, 2018:

Thanks to all who participated in our 1 & 1 workshop on latent transition analysis (LTA). This is a video of the webinar that Methodology Center Associate Director Bethany Bray presented on Thursday, March 29, 2018. The video includes both the one-hour presentation and the one-hour question-and-answer session that followed. This recording is a great way to learn the basics of LTA.

We will continue to host more 1 & 1 workshops. Our next 1 & 1 will be on Thursday, June 14, from 3:00 to 5:00 p.m. Eastern Time, when Methodology Center Investigator Susan Murphy presents an introduction to the micro-randomized trial.

Watch the video on YouTube.

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.

Free, Two-Hour, Online Workshop on Latent Transition Analysis

February 9, 2018:online workshop lta

For our next 1 & 1 workshop, Methodology Center Associate Director Bethany Bray will present an introduction to latent transition analysis (LTA). 1 & 1 workshops consist of a one-hour live video presentation on a method followed by a one-hour question-and-answer session with the presenter. After the presentation, Bethany will accept questions via instant message and answer them live. The workshop will be held on Thursday, March 29, from 3:00 to 5:00 p.m. ET.

LTA and latent class analysis (LCA) are closely related methods. LCA identifies unobservable (latent) subgroups within a population based on individuals’ responses to multiple observed variables. LTA is an extension of LCA that uses longitudinal data to identify movement between the subgroups over time. Workshop participants should possess basic familiarity with LCA before attending. For an introduction to LCA, see Collins and Lanza (2010) or Lanza, Bray, and Collins (2013).

The 1 & 1 will be hosted via Zoom webinar at The workshop can accommodate up to 500 participants, so all interested people should be able to attend. If you try to attend the workshop but are unable to log on for any reason, please send an email to We hope you will join us.


Collins, L. M., & Lanza, S. T. (2010). Latent class and latent transition analysis: With applications in the social, behavioral, and health sciences. New York: Wiley.

Lanza, S. T., Bray, B. C., & Collins, L. M. (2013). An introduction to latent class and latent transition analysis. In J. A. Schinka, W. F. Velicer, & I. B. Weiner (Eds.), Handbook of psychology (2nd ed.,Vol. 2, pp. 691-716). Hoboken, NJ: Wiley.

Summer Institute on Analysis of Ecological Momentary Data

January 29, 2018:

We are pleased to announce that Stephanie Lanza and Michael Russell will present this year’s Summer Institute on Innovative Methods, “Analysis of Ecological Momentary Assessment Data Using Multilevel Modeling and Time-Varying Effect Modeling.” During the Summer Institute, Stephanie and Mike will provide attendees with the theoretical background and applied skills necessary to identify and address innovative and interesting research questions in intensive longitudinal data streams such as daily diary and ecological momentary assessment (EMA) data using multilevel modeling (MLM) and time-varying effect modeling (TVEM). By the end of the workshop, participants will have fit several multilevel and time-varying effect models in SAS and will have had the opportunity to fit and interpret preliminary models using their own data.

The Summer Institute will be held June 28 – 29, 2018 on Penn State’s University Park Campus. The Institute is sponsored by Penn State’s Methodology Center and the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

Read more or apply to attend.

Five-Day Training on Optimization

December 5, 2017:lcollinsDANmirallkarikkguastaferro

Join us May 14-18, 2018, in Bethesda, Maryland for a five-day, multi-presenter training on the Optimization of Behavioral and Biobehavioral Interventions. Applications to attend the training will be accepted beginning today. Instructors include Drs. Linda M. CollinsDaniel AlmirallKari Kugler, and Kate Guastaferro. The training will cover the multiphase optimization strategy (MOST)factorial and fractional factorial optimization trials; adaptive interventions; the sequential, multiple assignment, randomized trial (SMART); and obtaining funds for optimization projects. In addition, a variety of researchers will describe how they are optimizing behavioral and biobehavioral interventions, followed by a panel discussion of scientific, operational, and practical considerations.

Read more or apply to attend.

Please contact Kate Guastaferro at with any questions.

Training on Optimizing Interventions

February 2, 2016:

Applications are no longer being accepted.

Applications are now being accepted for a five-day training, “Optimization of Behavioral and Biobehavioral Interventions” with instructors Linda M. Collins, Susan Murphy, and Daniel Almirall. The training will cover the multiphase optimization strategy (MOST); factorial and fractional factorial screening experiments; adaptive interventions; the sequential, multiple assignment, randomized trial (SMART); just-in-time adaptive interventions (JITAIs); and obtaining funds for optimization projects.  In addition, there will be a variety of presenters describing how they are optimizing behavioral and biobehavioral interventions. Join us May 16-20, 2016, in Bethesda, Maryland.