Advancement of Developmental Methodology

All my programs of research are highly collaborative, often involving interdisciplinary teams of scientists.  In addition, these studies share a common focus on the novel application of research designs and analyses to answer core developmental questions.  Perhaps the most compelling example of this work was that done in collaboration with Curran and Bauer to advance what we termed Integrative Data Analysis (Bauer & Hussong, 2009; Curran & Hussong, 2009; Hussong, Curran & Bauer, 2013).  With the accrual of high-quality databases and the economic pressures of big science research to do more with less, the scientific community is looking for innovative methods that leverage existing resources to answer novel questions. Responding to this need, we developed IDA as a novel framework for conducting the simultaneous analysis of raw data pooled from multiple studies. IDA offers many advantages including economy, statistical power, the potential to address new questions not answerable by a single contributing study (e.g., combining longitudinal studies to cover a broader swath of the lifespan), and the opportunity to build a more cumulative science (i.e., examining the similarity of effects across studies and potential reasons for dissimilarities) even in the face of non-overlapping measurement across studies.  In a series of publications, we applied these methods in combining data from three landmark studies of children of alcoholics that collectively cover the span of 2-33 years of age (e.g., Hussong et al., 2008; Hussong et al., 2007; Hussong et al., 2012). Through ongoing grant funding from NIDA, we are now extending this model to other IDA applications (the STTR-HIV data base) and evaluating optimal scoring methods for harmonizing data.  This includes innovative strategies for evaluating and developing statistical methods that bridge the ‘in theory’ and ‘in practice’ performance of modern psychometric models (Curran et al., 2017; Curran et al., in press; Hussong et al., in press).

My recent grant-funded work includes collaborations with five research teams. These collaborations continue my work on understanding the role of peers in adolescents’ affect-linked substance use (NIDA R01 with Dr. Ennett, UNC SPH), on parent socialization and children’s gratitude (JTF with Dr. Coffman, UNC-G), on the development of optimal scoring procedures for IDA (NIDA R01 with Drs. Bauer, PI, and Curran, UNC Psychology and Neuroscience), on lability in parenting practices and adolescent substance use (NIDA R01 with Dr. Lippold, PI, UNC SW), and (a new line of work) on understanding the role of computer mediated communication (text messaging) and alcohol use in college students (Jacobs Foundation with PIs, Drs. Enrenreich, Jensen, Linstead, and Meter).