Translational Behavioral Medicine

, Volume 2, Issue 4, pp 431–440 | Cite as

A transdisciplinary approach to protocol development for tobacco control research: a case study

  • Melissa A. Clark
  • Michelle L. Rogers
  • Julie Boergers
  • Christopher W. Kahler
  • Susan Ramsey
  • Frances M. Saadeh
  • David B. Abrams
  • Stephen L. Buka
  • Raymond Niaura
  • Suzanne M. Colby
Case Study


The increasing complexity of scientific problems related to lifestyle risk factors has prompted substantial investments in transdisciplinary or team science initiatives at the biological, psychosocial, and population levels of analysis. To date, the actual process of conducting team science from the perspectives of investigators engaged in it has not been well documented. We describe the experience of developing and implementing data collection protocols using the principles of transdisciplinary science. The New England Family Study Transdisciplinary Tobacco Use Research Center was a 10-year collaboration involving more than 85 investigators and consultants from more than 20 disciplines as well as more than 50 research staff. We used a two-phase process in which all the study personnel participated in the developing and testing of 160 instruments. These instruments were used in 4,378 assessments with 3,501 participants. With substantial effort, it is possible to build a team of scientists from diverse backgrounds that can develop a set of instruments using a shared conceptual approach, despite limited or no experience working together previously.


Team science Transdisciplinary Tobacco Cooperative behavior Interdisciplinary communication 


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Copyright information

© Society of Behavioral Medicine 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Melissa A. Clark
    • 1
    • 2
  • Michelle L. Rogers
    • 2
  • Julie Boergers
    • 3
    • 4
    • 5
  • Christopher W. Kahler
    • 6
    • 7
  • Susan Ramsey
    • 3
    • 8
  • Frances M. Saadeh
    • 2
  • David B. Abrams
    • 9
    • 10
    • 11
  • Stephen L. Buka
    • 1
    • 2
  • Raymond Niaura
    • 9
  • Suzanne M. Colby
    • 3
    • 6
    • 7
  1. 1.Department of Epidemiology, Program in Public HealthBrown UniversityProvidenceUSA
  2. 2.Center for Population Health and Clinical Epidemiology, Program in Public HealthBrown UniversityProvidenceUSA
  3. 3.Department of Psychiatry and Human Behavior, Warren Alpert Medical SchoolBrown UniversityProvidenceUSA
  4. 4.Department of Pediatrics, Warren Alpert Medical SchoolBrown UniversityProvidenceUSA
  5. 5.Bradley-Hasbro Children’s Research CenterRhode Island HospitalProvidenceUSA
  6. 6.Department of Behavioral and Social SciencesBrown UniversityProvidenceUSA
  7. 7.Center for Alcohol and Addiction StudiesBrown UniversityProvidenceUSA
  8. 8.Department of Medicine, Warren Alpert Medical SchoolBrown UniversityProvidenceUSA
  9. 9.The Schroeder Institute for Tobacco Research and Policy StudiesAmerican Legacy FoundationWashingtonUSA
  10. 10.Department of Health, Behavior and SocietyJohns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public HealthBaltimoreUSA
  11. 11.Department of OncologyGeorgetown University Medical Center/Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer CenterWashingtonUSA

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