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Grant Details

Grant Number: 3R01CA240452-03S1 Interpret this number
Primary Investigator: Berkman, Elliot
Organization: University Of Oregon
Project Title: Construal Level as a Novel Pathway for Affect Regulation and Cancer Control
Fiscal Year: 2022


Project Summary/Abstract A pervasive problem faced by the science of behavior change is that not all people respond to the same degree - if at all - to a given intervention program. Even the “best” treatments in terms of main effects fail to produce change in some people, and even the “worst” treatments by the same measure can be highly effective for some individuals. A principled, powerful tool that could rigorously identify and test candidate moderators of intervention effects, answering the question, “what works for whom?”, would greatly advance the science of behavior change. Attempts to address that question have led the scientific community to focus on moderators of intervention response. A more precise science of behavior change moves beyond “main effects” comparisons, which describe the efficacy of intervention programs in terms of only the average level of behavior change within a group, to more sensitive analyses that model an intervention’s expected behavior change for individual people depending on their scores on moderating factors. This supplement presents a conceptual framework and a proof-of-concept study for using large-scale data to identify and test potential moderators of behavior change programs. Specifically, the proposed work will establish moderators - one based in theory and others identified in a principled, data-driven way - of an ongoing intervention to reduce cigarette smoking. The proposed work is responsive to NOT-OD-22-140 (“Administrative Supplement for Research Efforts that Illuminate Fundamental Processes Underlying Behavior Change, Maintenance, and Adherence”) because it will “examine causal, process, or contextual variables that…are hypothesized to be associated with or contributing to (mediators or moderators) of an intervention study’s main effect (efficacy) over the course of behavior initiation and maintenance.” The parent R01 hypothesizes that high-level construal (i.e., thinking about the act of smoking cessation in abstract terms such as “promoting a healthy life”) will increase participants’ desire to quit and reduce their craving for cigarettes. However, high-level construal draws upon complex mental processing and verbal fluency, so its efficacy might well depend on a person’s cognitive ability. We will test this notion in a new, high-powered, online sample of smokers who will view a subset of the intervention materials and complete an innovative measure of cognitive ability (Aim 1). Additionally, because theories can be incorrect or incomplete, the same sample of people recruited for Aim 1 will complete the broad-bandwidth Synthetic Aperture Personality Assessment (SAPA) of individual differences to provide a more thorough search space for candidate moderators (Aim 2). This approach complements the theory-driven strategy adopted in Aim 1 and provides a proof-of-concept demonstration of a new tool to systematically identify and test candidate moderators of intervention effects. The public health impact of knowledge about moderators would be to optimally and prospectively assign people to a treatment that is likely to be efficacious in helping them change behaviors relevant to health.


None. See parent grant details.

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