News Archive | The Methodology Center

News Archive

Aaron Wagner and Donna Coffman recording podcastMay 5, 2015

In this podcast, we talk with Methodology Center Investigator Donna Coffman about the K01 award she received from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Big Data to Knowledge (BD2K) initiative. Topics include the emergence of big data in NIH-funded research and the practical aspects of applying for a K award. Donna also explains her research on analyzing biosensor data from a parenting study and how her move into big data integrates with her research on causal inference.


woman breaking cigaretteApril 29, 2015

Year of TVEM

In 2014, a special issue of Nicotine and Tobacco Research featured applications of the time-varying effect model (TVEM) and other methods for the analysis of intensive longitudinal data (ILD). In that issue, four NIH officials—Elizabeth Ginexi, William Riley, and Audie Atienza of the National Cancer Institute (NCI), and Patricia Mabry of the Office of Behavioral and Social Sciences Research (OBSSR)—authored an editorial, “The promise of intensive longitudinal data capture for behavioral health research.” In this piece, the authors discussed the potential of ILD to advance science and highlighted resources at NIH for supporting research related to the collection and analysis of ILD.


Sara Vasilenko, Lisa Dierker, Rebecca Evans-PolceApril 27, 2015

Society for Prevention Research

Washington DC, May 27-29, 2015


Year of TVEM

Methodology Center researchers will be very active at SPR with posters, symposia, presentations, a workshop, a special interest group, a technical demonstration of our software, and the SPR Cup competition. Below are just a few opportunities to discuss our research with us, including the poster session, “A novel technique for addressing crucial questions in the prevention of health-risk behavior,” which is the inaugural event in our Year of TVEM. We hope to see you at the conference!


Register for the conference. 


Megan Patrick, Ph.D.

March 12, 2015

Congratulations to Methodology Center Affiliate Megan Patrick and the team of researchers from Penn State’s Methodology Center and the University of Michigan’s Institute for Social Research, who were awarded an R01 from the National Institute on Drug Abuse for their project, “Dynamic Links Between Risk Factors, Substance Use, and Consequences: Ages 18-35." The investigators will use innovative methods developed at The Methodology Center to examine long-term panel data from the University of Michigan’s Monitoring the Future study, which has been gathering data from a large, national sample of adolescents since 1975.

March 8, 2015

Melissa Boone, Ph.D.Unprotected sexual intercourse among HIV-positive men who have sex with men (MSM) puts them at risk for sexually transmitted infections and their partners at risk for HIV. Therefore, it is important to understand factors that lead to sexual risk among HIV-positive MSM. A recent article examined how changes over time in a person’s sense of well-being can influence their sexual risk behavior. The article, “Fluctuations in Depression and Well-Being Are Associated With Sexual Risk Episodes Among HIV-Positive Men,” was authored by Prevention and Methodology Training (PAMT) postdoctoral fellow Melissa Boone and a research group at Columbia University. In it, the authors analyzed intensive longitudinal data collected from 106 sexually active, HIV-positive MSM.

Aaron Wagner and Sara Vasilenko recording podcastFebruary 26, 2015

In this podcast, we discuss the Prevention and Methodology Training (PAMT) program, which is a collaboration between The Methodology Center and The Bennett Pierce Prevention Research Center. Host Aaron Wagner talks with Melissa Boone, Michael Russell, and Sara Vasilenko, all current or former PAMT postdoctoral fellows. The opportunities and unique features of the program are discussed in under 20 minutes. PAMT also trains Penn State graduate students as predoctoral fellows, but that aspect of the program is not discussed in the podcast. For more information about PAMT predoctoral and postdoctoral fellowships, contact Bethany Bray.

February 3, 2015

Stephanie Lanza and Sara VasilenkoWe are pleased to announce that Stephanie Lanza and Sara Vasilenko will present this year’s Summer Institute on Innovative Methods, “An Introduction to Time-Varying Effect Modeling.” Sponsored by The Pennsylvania State University’s Methodology Center and the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the 20th Summer Institute will provide the theoretical background and applied skills necessary to identify and address interesting, new research questions using time-varying effect modeling (TVEM). Stephanie and Sara will introduce applications of these models to examine time-varying effects using intensive longitudinal data such as ecological momentary assessments, as well as age-varying effects using cross-sectional and panel data. By the end of the workshop, participants will have fit several time-varying effect models in SAS and will have had the opportunity to fit preliminary models to their own data.


The Summer Institute will be held on June 11 – 12, 2015 at the Bethesda North Marriott Hotel & Conference Center in Bethesda, Maryland.


Read more and register 

January 30, 2015

distal outcomes example diagramWe are pleased to announce the release of the latest version of the %LCA_Distal SAS macro. Latent class analysis allows researchers to divide subjects into underlying subgroups that cannot be directly observed. The %LCA_Distal SAS macro was created to allow researchers to estimate the impact of membership in a latent class on an outcome at a later time. The newly released version 3.0 of the macro allows users to generate standard errors for the binary case and provides more information in the onscreen results for all cases. PROC LCA version 1.3.2 or higher must be used in order to generate standard errors.  


Read more or download the macro

January 27, 2015

child using a tablet

Adaptive interventions help guide clinicians in their decisions concerning when and how treatments should be altered, but developing empirically based adaptations requires gathering the right kind of data. The sequential, multiple assignment, randomized trial is a recent innovation that can provide high-quality, experimental data for developing adaptive interventions. Recently, a group of autism researchers published the results of their SMART study in the article “Communication interventions for minimally verbal children with autism: A sequential, multiple assignment, randomized trial,” which appears in the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, a top journal in child and adolescent mental health. The authors, led by Connie Kasari of UCLA, designed a project to improve spoken communication for children with autism who are minimally verbal. The study’s results show the benefit of integrating speech-generating devices (SGD) as a part of language development interventions and the potential of SMART designs for developing adaptive interventions.


Bethany Bray, Ph.D.

January 26, 2015

As part of our annual series of one-credit courses in research methodology for Penn State graduate students, in fall 2015 we will offer, “Advanced topics in latent class analysis (LCA).” LCA is an analytic method used to identify hidden subgroups within a population based on individuals’ responses to multiple observed variables. This short course, taught by Methodology Center Investigator Bethany Bray, will build on the knowledge and skills presented in the short course, “An introduction to latent class and latent profile analysis.” Credit for that course is not a prerequisite for taking this course, but familiarity with LCA and baseline category multinomial logistic regression are prerequisites.


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