Screening experiments and fractional factorial designs in behavioral intervention research

  • Nair V
  • Strecher V
  • Angela Fagerlin
  • Peter Ubel
  • Resnicow K
  • Murphy S
  • Little R
  • Chakraborty B
  • Zhang A

Health behavior intervention studies have focused primarily on comparing new programs and existing programs via randomized controlled trials. However, numbers of possible components (factors) are increasing dramatically as a result of developments in science and technology (e.g., Web-based surveys). These changes dictate the need for alternative methods that can screen and quickly identify a large set of potentially important treatment components. We have developed and implemented a multiphase experimentation strategy for accomplishing this goal. We describe the screening phase of this strategy and the use of fractional factorial designs (FFDs) in studying several components economically. We then use 2 ongoing behavioral intervention projects to illustrate the usefulness of FFDs. FFDs should be supplemented with follow-up experiments in the refining phase so any critical assumptions about interactions can be verified.

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