Methodology Center Partnering in Effort to Help People Quit Smoking

January 7, 2010

Penn State and the University of Wisconsin-Madison have joined forces to help people quit smoking. Penn State’s Methodology Center is providing expertise with innovative research methodology at the Tobacco Intervention Laboratory, a newly established research laboratory that is housed within the University of Wisconsin Center for Tobacco Research and Intervention (UW-CTRI).

Researchers at the laboratory aim to develop an intervention that will contain several approaches to quitting smoking and can be tailored to fit the needs of individuals. Dr. Linda Collins, director of the Methodology Center and professor of human development and family studies, will be principal investigator on Penn State’s role in the project, and Dr. Timothy Baker, director of research at UW-CTRI, and Dr. Michael Fiore, director of the UW-CTRI, will be co-principal investigators on the entire project.

The process of creating this adaptive intervention will rely heavily upon a research methodology that Collins created with her colleagues. This methodology, known as the Multiphase Optimization Strategy (MOST), operates on two key principles: resource management and continuous optimization.

“Resource management emphasizes careful management of resources in order to move science forward most effectively and efficiently, and the continuous optimization principle states that ongoing intervention improvement is made by means of repeated optimization cycles. Each optimization cycle lays the groundwork for the next optimization cycle,” said Collins.

Researchers are looking at a number of components that people use to quit smoking, such as different types of medication and coaching.

“The MOST methodology is not only efficient, but also useful in keeping interventions up-to-date. As more approaches to quitting smoking are introduced in the future, such as new medications, we will be able to integrate them into this optimization process and figure out the most effective way that people can quit smoking,” said Collins.

“At the end of the research, we will have a menu of stop-smoking treatments that a clinic can offer virtually any smoker who walks through the door,” said Baker. “We want to help health care systems expand their capacity to better treat smokers. It will be a model that creates a team of health care professionals supporting the smoker. The team will rely on integrated clinical health technology systems that assist tobacco users to be smokefree.”

Testing for the research will take place at UW-CTRI. Penn State received over $700,000 for this study.

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Editors: Linda Collins can be reached at lmcollins@psu.edu. For additional information, please contact the College of Health and Human Development Office of College Relations at 814-865-3831 or healthhd@psu.edu.