Answering questions about electronic cigarettes using a multidisciplinary model

Alison Breland, Robert L. Balster, Caroline Cobb, Pebbles Fagan, Jonathan Foulds, J. Randy Koch, Thokozeni Lipato, Najat Saliba, Alan Shihadeh, Shumei Sun, Thomas Eissenberg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Electronic cigarettes (ECIGs) are a relatively new class of tobacco products and a subject of much debate for scientists and policymakers worldwide. Objective data that address the ECIG risk- benefit ratio for individual and public health are needed, and addressing this need requires a multidisciplinary approach that spans several areas of psychology as well as chemistry, toxicant inhalation, and physiology. This multidisciplinary approach would benefit from methods that are reliable, valid, and swift. For this reason, we formed a multidisciplinary team to develop methods that could answer questions about ECIGs and other potential modified risk tobacco products. Our team includes scientists with expertise in psychology (clinical, community, and experimental) and other disciplines, including aerosol research, analytical chemistry, biostatistics, engineering, internal medicine, and public health. The psychologists on our team keep other members focused on factors that influence individual behavior, and other team members keep the psychologists aware of other issues, such as product design. Critically, all team members are willing to extend their interests beyond the boundaries of their discipline to collaborate effectively with the shared goal of producing therigorous science needed to inform empirically based tobacco policy. In addition, our trainees gain valuable knowledge from these collaborations and learn that other disciplines are accessible, exciting, and can enhance their own research. Multidisciplinary work presents challenges: learning other scientists' languages and staying focused on our core mission. Overall, our multidisciplinary team has led to several major findings that inform the scientific, regulatory, and public health communities about ECIGs and their effects.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)368-379
Number of pages12
JournalAmerican Psychologist
Issue number3
StatePublished - Apr 2019

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Psychology


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