To move society toward an AIDS-free generation, behavioral interventions for prevention and treatment of HIV/AIDS must be not only effective, but also cost-effective, efficient, and readily scalable. The purpose of this article is to introduce to the HIV/AIDS research community the multiphase optimization strategy (MOST), a new methodological framework inspired by engineering principles and designed to develop behavioral interventions that have these important characteristics. Many behavioral interventions comprise multiple components. In MOST, randomized experimentation is conducted to assess the individual performance of each intervention component, and whether its presence/absence/setting has an impact on the performance of other components. This information is used to engineer an intervention that meets a specific optimization criterion, defined a priori in terms of effectiveness, cost, cost-effectiveness, and/or scalability. MOST will enable intervention science to develop a coherent knowledge base about what works and does not work. Ultimately this will improve behavioral interventions systematically and incrementally.
Optimization of multicomponent behavioral and biobehavioral interventions for the prevention and treatment of HIV/AIDS