We propose to continue a series of annual dissemination conferences aimed at drug abuse and HIV prevention researchers. The topic of these dissemination conferences, which will now be called the Summer Institutes on Innovative Methods, is latest advances in methodology for prevention science. The long-term objective of these conferences is to ensure that drug abuse and HIV prevention research maintains the highest, state-of-the-art methodological standards. The proposed conferences will continue to have a highly positive effect on the field of prevention in several ways. First, they will help prevention researchers gain conceptual and practical understanding of state-of-the-art methodological and statistical procedures so that they can use these procedures in their research. Second, the conferences will promote career-long learning in prevention methodology among drug abuse and HIV prevention scientists. Third, by facilitating contact among attendees, the conferences will help to establish an informal network of drug abuse and HIV prevention researchers who are interested in methodology. The Methodology Center at Penn State is uniquely qualified to organize this highly specialized training activity and present on innovative methods relevant to research on drug abuse and HIV prevention. Most of the research to be disseminated at these conferences will originate from the NIDA-funded Center for Prevention and Treatment Methodology. Topics to be covered at the Summer Institutes on Innovative Methods include engineering better behavioral interventions, the analysis of intensive longitudinal data, causal inference and causal mediation modeling, and finite mixture modeling including latent class and latent transition analysis. We see this series as an important vehicle for ensuring that the innovative approaches developed by the Methodology Center are adopted broadly in the prevention science field.
Drug abuse, sexual risk behavior, and other health-related behaviors have a high cost to society. Although considerable progress has been made in developing effective intervention programs for prevention, the greatest scientific advances will be made when findings are based on optimally engineered interventions and the most appropriate statistical methods. The proposed conferences will place important innovative methods into the hands of prevention researchers, thereby ensuring that drug abuse and HIV prevention research maintains the highest, state-of-the-art methodological standards.