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J Natl Cancer Inst Monogr. 2012 May;2012(44):49-55. doi: 10.1093/jncimonographs/lgs010.

Multilevel interventions: study design and analysis issues.

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Yale School of Public Health, 60 College St., LEPH 210, PO Box 208034, New Haven, CT 06520-8034, USA.


Multilevel interventions, implemented at the individual, physician, clinic, health-care organization, and/or community level, increasingly are proposed and used in the belief that they will lead to more substantial and sustained changes in behaviors related to cancer prevention, detection, and treatment than would single-level interventions. It is important to understand how intervention components are related to patient outcomes and identify barriers to implementation. Designs that permit such assessments are uncommon, however. Thus, an important way of expanding our knowledge about multilevel interventions would be to assess the impact of interventions at different levels on patients as well as the independent and synergistic effects of influences from different levels. It also would be useful to assess the impact of interventions on outcomes at different levels. Multilevel interventions are much more expensive and complicated to implement and evaluate than are single-level interventions. Given how little evidence there is about the value of multilevel interventions, however, it is incumbent upon those arguing for this approach to do multilevel research that explicates the contributions that interventions at different levels make to the desired outcomes. Only then will we know whether multilevel interventions are better than more focused interventions and gain greater insights into the kinds of interventions that can be implemented effectively and efficiently to improve health and health care for individuals with cancer. This chapter reviews designs for assessing multilevel interventions and analytic ways of controlling for potentially confounding variables that can account for the complex structure of multilevel data.

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