Using early phase studies to advance intervention research: The science of behavior change

Karina W. Davidson, Jazmin N. Mogavero, Alexander J. Rothman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


This special issue showcases how investigators working in different areas of health behavior change are utilizing early phase studies to advance intervention development. Through the publication of design or protocol papers for currently funded Science of Behavior Change (SOBC) network projects, the special issue illustrates how investigative teams are implementing the experimental medicine approach to advance our understanding of the mechanisms of action that underlie behavior change interventions and, in turn, develop an evidence base that can inform future intervention design. Given that a goal of the experimental medicine approach is the accumulation of an evidence base regarding the links between intervention strategies and putative mechanisms of action, it is critical that this evidence base is readily accessible to investigators and practitioners. Therefore, each of the included articles describes how it is implementing the open-science approach within its study protocol to ensure rigor and reproducibility. Each article provides information about how to register an early phase experiment before study conduct and how to publicly deposit the data, metadata, and publications. The special issue includes 10 design and protocol articles and 2 commentaries on a diverse array of scientific areas and approaches to test mechanisms of action for health behavior change interventions. By disseminating how the National Institutes of Health SOBC Initiative has supported the conduct of early phase intervention studies implementing the experimental medicine and open science approaches, the special issue provides a substantive roadmap to other scientists for how to adopt these approaches.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)731-735
Number of pages5
JournalHealth Psychology
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2020

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This study was supported by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Science of Behavior Change Common Fund Program through an award administered by the National Institute on Aging (U24AG052175). Karina W. Davidson is a member of the United States Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF). This article does not represent the views and policies of the USPSTF.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 American Psychological Association.


  • Early phase study design
  • Experimental method
  • Mechanisms of action
  • Open science
  • Science of behavior change
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Mental Disorders/diagnosis
  • Humans
  • Biomedical Research/methods

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article


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