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Transl Behav Med. 2012 Dec;2(4):431-40. doi: 10.1007/s13142-012-0164-1.

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

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  • 1Department of Epidemiology, Program in Public Health, Brown University, Providence, RI USA ; Center for Population Health and Clinical Epidemiology, Program in Public Health, Brown University, 121S. Main Street, 6th Floor, Providence, RI 02912 USA.


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.


Cooperative behavior; Interdisciplinary communication; Team science; Tobacco; Transdisciplinary

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