The Multiphase Optimization Strategy (MOST) in Child Maltreatment Prevention Research

Kate Guastaferro, Jillian C. Strayhorn, Linda M. Collins

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Each year hundreds of thousands of children and families receive behavioral interventions designed to prevent child maltreatment; yet rates of maltreatment have not declined in over a decade. To reduce the prevalence and prevent the life-long negative consequences of child maltreatment, behavioral interventions must not only be effective, but also affordable, scalable, and efficient to meet the demand for these services. An innovative approach to intervention science is needed. The purpose of this article is to introduce the multiphase optimization strategy (MOST) to the field of child maltreatment prevention. MOST is an engineering-inspired framework for developing, optimizing, and evaluating multicomponent behavioral interventions. MOST enables intervention scientists to empirically examine the performance of each intervention component, independently and in combination. Using a hypothetical example of a home visiting intervention and artificial data, this article demonstrates how MOST may be used to optimize the content of a parent-focused in-home intervention and the engagement strategies of an intervention to increase completion rate to identify an intervention that is effective, efficient, economical, and scalable. We suggest that MOST will ultimately improve prevention science and hasten the progress of translational science to prevent child maltreatment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2481-2491
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Child and Family Studies
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Life-span and Life-course Studies


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