The ILHBN: challenges, opportunities, and solutions from harmonizing data under heterogeneous study designs, target populations, and measurement protocols

Intensive Longitudinal Health Behavior Network (ILHBN)

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


The ILHBN is funded by the National Institutes of Health to collaboratively study the interactive dynamics of behavior, health, and the environment using Intensive Longitudinal Data (ILD) to (a) understand and intervene on behavior and health and (b) develop new analytic methods to innovate behavioral theories and interventions. The heterogenous study designs, populations, and measurement protocols adopted by the seven studies within the ILHBN created practical challenges, but also unprecedented opportunities to capitalize on data harmonization to provide comparable views of data from different studies, enhance the quality and utility of expensive and hard-won ILD, and amplify scientific yield. The purpose of this article is to provide a brief report of the challenges, opportunities, and solutions from some of the ILHBN's cross-study data harmonization efforts. We review the process through which harmonization challenges and opportunities motivated the development of tools and collection of metadata within the ILHBN. A variety of strategies have been adopted within the ILHBN to facilitate harmonization of ecological momentary assessment, location, accelerometer, and participant engagement data while preserving theory-driven heterogeneity and data privacy considerations. Several tools have been developed by the ILHBN to resolve challenges in integrating ILD across multiple data streams and time scales both within and across studies. Harmonization of distinct longitudinal measures, measurement tools, and sampling rates across studies is challenging, but also opens up new opportunities to address cross-cutting scientific themes of interest.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)7-16
Number of pages10
JournalTranslational behavioral medicine
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2023

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We gratefully acknowledge the help and contributions of the ILHBN affiliated scientists, staff, and study participants, especially Yosef Bodovski, Shirlene Wang, Jonathan Kaslander, Daniel Chu, Aditya Ponnada, Rebecca Braga De Braganca and Drs. Dana Schloesser, Guanqing Chi, Daniel Rivera, and Einat Liebenthal. Research reported in this publication was supported by the Intensive Longitudinal Health Behavior (ILHBN) Cooperative Agreement Program funded by the NIH under U24EB026436, U01CA229437, U01MH116928, U01MH116925, U01MH116923, U01DA046413, U01HL146327, and U01CA229445. Data used in the described work were additionally collected through NIH award R01HL125440.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 The Author(s). Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Society of Behavioral Medicine.


  • EMA
  • Health behavior changes
  • Location
  • Sensor

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural


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