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Medicine: Mind the Gap is a lecture series that explores issues at the intersection of research, evidence, and clinical practice—areas in which conventional wisdom may be contradicted by recent evidence.
Dr. Collins will discuss why behavioral interventions are important in many areas of public health, for example, smoking cessation, drug abuse prevention, treatment of obesity, management of heart failure symptoms, and promotion of physical activity. Behavioral interventions are typically developed and evaluated using a treatment package approach, in which the intervention is assembled a priori and evaluated by means of a randomized controlled trial (RCT). In this talk, she will review an alternative approach called the Multiphase Optimization Strategy (MOST), an engineering-inspired framework for developing, optimizing, and evaluating behavioral interventions. MOST includes the RCT, as well as other empirical steps aimed at intervention optimization. Dr. Collins proposes that MOST offers several benefits, including the possibility of engineering behavioral interventions to meet explicit criteria of effectiveness and/or efficiency. Once the criteria have been met for a particular intervention, the bar can be raised to aim for ever-increasing public health impact.