To develop more effective anti-smoking programs, it is important to understand the factors that influence people to smoke. Guided by attribution theory, a longitudinal study was conducted to investigate how individuals’ cognitive attributions for smoking were associated with subsequent smoking development and through which pathways.
Middle and high school students in seven large cities in China (N=12,382; 48.5% boys and 51.5% girls) completed two annual surveys. Associations between cognitive attributions for smoking and subsequent smoking initiation and progression were tested with multilevel analysis, taking into account plausible moderation effects of gender and baseline smoking status. Mediation effects of susceptibility to smoking were investigated using statistical mediation analysis (MacKinnon, 2008).
Six out of eight tested themes of cognitive attributions were associated with subsequent smoking development. Curiosity (β=0.11, p<0.001) and autonomy (β=0.08, p=0.019) were associated with smoking initiation among baseline non-smokers. Coping (β=0.07, p<0.001) and social image (β=0.10, p=<.0001) were associated with smoking progression among baseline lifetime smokers. Social image (β=0.05, p=0.043), engagement (β=0.07, p=0.003), and mental enhancement (β=0.15, p<0.001) were associated with smoking progression among baseline past 30-day smokers. More attributions were associated with smoking development among males than among females. Susceptibility to smoking partially mediated most of the associations, with the proportion of mediated effects ranging from 4.3% to 30.8%.
This study identifies the roles that cognitive attributions for smoking play in subsequent smoking development. These attributions could be addressed in smoking prevention programs.
Attributions; Smoking; Attribution Theory; Adolescents; China
This article provides an overview of statistical mediation analysis methods in the evaluation of public health dentistry interventions.
Methods and Results
First, reasons for conducting mediation analysis are outlined, followed by a discussion of the link between the mediation model and theoretical bases of interventions. Second, the basic statistical procedures in mediation analysis are presented. An example application to data from a hypothetical intervention is provided in Appendix A. Third, interpretation of the results from statistical mediation analysis is described along with additional information pertinent to identifying true mediation relations.
Guidelines for describing mediation analyses in research articles related to public health dentistry intervention studies are outlined.
mediation; prevention; statistical analysis
The purpose of this article is to describe mediating variables and moderating variables and provide reasons for integrating them in outcome studies. Separate sections describe examples of moderating and mediating variables and the simplest statistical model for investigating each variable. The strengths and limitations of incorporating mediating and moderating variables in a research study are discussed as well as approaches to routinely including these variables in outcome research. The routine inclusion of mediating and moderating variables holds the promise of increasing the amount of information from outcome studies by generating practical information about interventions as well as testing theory. The primary focus is on mediating and moderating variables for intervention research but many issues apply to nonintervention research as well.
methodology; methodological article; intervention; outcome
This paper examines the mechanisms by which PHLAME (Promoting Healthy Lifestyles: Alternative Models’ Effects), a health promotion intervention, improved healthy eating and exercise behavior among firefighters, a population at high risk for health problems due to occupational hazards. In a randomized trial, 397 firefighters participated in either the PHLAME team intervention with their work shift or a control condition. Intervention sessions taught benefits of a healthy diet and regular exercise and sought to improve social norms and social support from coworkers for healthy behavior. At post-test team intervention participants had increased their fruit and vegetable consumption as compared to control participants. An increase in knowledge of fruit and vegetable benefits and improved dietary coworker norms partially mediated these effects. Exercise habits and VO2 max were related to targeted mediators but were not significantly changed by the team intervention. Partial support was found for both the action and conceptual theories underlying the intervention. Our findings illustrate how an effective program’s process can be deconstructed to understand the underpinnings of behavior change and refine interventions. Further, fire stations may improve the health of firefighters by emphasizing the benefits of healthy diet and exercise behaviors while also encouraging behavior change by coworkers as a whole.
health promotion intervention; work team
Aims: To investigate whether ethnic differences in vulnerability to peer norms supportive of alcohol use is a viable, partial explanation for the ethnic differences in reported prevalence and amount of alcohol use during high school. Methods: Survey data from a sample of 680 adolescents from Project STAR (Students Taught Awareness and Resistance) of the Midwestern Prevention Project were used. Hypotheses were tested using sequential, semi-continuous growth curve models. Results: Relative to Black adolescents, White adolescents reported greater peer alcohol use during middle school and were much more likely to consume alcohol during high school. General peer norms in seventh grade and middle school growth in alcohol use norms among close friends was predictive of a greater propensity to consume alcohol in ninth grade among White adolescents. Conclusion: Lower peer norms for alcohol use among Black adolescents might better account for differences between Black and White adolescents than the possibility that White adolescents are more vulnerable to peer norms.
This article describes the RMediation package, which offers various methods for building confidence intervals (CIs) for mediated effects. The mediated effect is the product of two regression coefficients. The distribution-of-the-product method has the best statistical performance of existing methods for building CIs for the mediated effect. RMediation produces CIs using methods based on the distribution of product, Monte Carlo simulations, and an asymptotic normal distribution. Furthermore, RMediation generates percentiles, quantiles, and the plot of the distribution and CI for the mediated effect. An existing program, called PRODCLIN, published in Behavior Research Methods, has been widely cited and used by researchers to build accurate CIs. PRODCLIN has several limitations: The program is somewhat cumbersome to access and yields no result for several cases. RMediation described herein is based on the widely available R software, includes several capabilities not available in PRODCLIN, and provides accurate results that PRODCLIN could not.
Mediation; Indirect effect; R; Confidence intervals
Four applications of permutation tests to the single-mediator model are described and evaluated in this study. Permutation tests work by rearranging data in many possible ways in order to estimate the sampling distribution for the test statistic. The four applications to mediation evaluated here are the permutation test of ab, the permutation joint significance test, and the noniterative and iterative permutation confidence intervals for ab. A Monte Carlo simulation study was used to compare these four tests with the four best available tests for mediation found in previous research: the joint significance test, the distribution of the product test, and the percentile and bias-corrected bootstrap tests. We compared the different methods on Type I error, power, and confidence interval coverage. The noniterative permutation confidence interval for ab was the best performer among the new methods. It successfully controlled Type I error, had power nearly as good as the most powerful existing methods, and had better coverage than any existing method. The iterative permutation confidence interval for ab had lower power than do some existing methods, but it performed better than any other method in terms of coverage. The permutation confidence interval methods are recommended when estimating a confidence interval is a primary concern. SPSS and SAS macros that estimate these confidence intervals are provided.
Mediation; Permutation test
Counselor behaviors that mediate the efficacy of motivational interviewing (MI) are not well understood, especially when applied to health behavior promotion. We hypothesized that client change talk mediates the relationship between counselor variables and subsequent client behavior change.
Purposeful sampling identified individuals from a prospective randomized worksite trial using an MI intervention to promote firefighters’ healthy diet and regular exercise that increased dietary intake of fruits and vegetables (n = 21) or did not increase intake of fruits and vegetables (n = 22). MI interactions were coded using the Motivational Interviewing Skill Code (MISC 2.1) to categorize counselor and firefighter verbal utterances. Both Bayesian and frequentist mediation analyses were used to investigate whether client change talk mediated the relationship between counselor skills and behavior change.
Counselors’ global spirit, empathy, and direction and MI-consistent behavioral counts (e.g., reflections, open questions, affirmations, emphasize control) significantly correlated with firefighters’ total client change talk utterances (rs = 0.42, 0.40, 0.30, and 0.61, respectively), which correlated significantly with their fruit and vegetable intake increase (r = 0.33). Both Bayesian and frequentist mediation analyses demonstrated that findings were consistent with hypotheses, such that total client change talk mediated the relationship between counselor’s skills—MI-consistent behaviors [Bayesian mediated effect: αβ = .06 (.03), 95% CI = .02, .12] and MI spirit [Bayesian mediated effect: αβ = .06 (.03), 95% CI = .01, .13]—and increased fruit and vegetable consumption.
Motivational interviewing is a resource- and time-intensive intervention, and is currently being applied in many arenas. Previous research has identified the importance of counselor behaviors and client change talk in the treatment of substance use disorders. Our results indicate that similar mechanisms may underlie the effects of MI for dietary change. These results inform MI training and application by identifying those processes critical for MI success in health promotion domains.
Motivational interviewing; Dietary change; Occupational health; Firefighters; Bayesian mediation
This article presents an overview of statistical mediation analysis and its application to psychosomatic medicine research. The article begins with a description of the major approaches to mediation analysis and an evaluation of the strengths and limits of each. Emphasis is placed on longitudinal mediation models, and an application using latent growth modeling is presented. The article concludes with a description of recent developments in mediation analysis and suggestions for the use of mediation for future work in psychosomatic medicine research.
statistical mediation; mediation analysis; mechanism; indirect effect
Mediation analysis uses measures of hypothesized mediating variables to test theory for how a treatment achieves effects on outcomes and to improve subsequent treatments by identifying the most efficient treatment components. Most current mediation analysis methods rely on untested distributional and functional form assumptions for valid conclusions, especially regarding the relation between the mediator and outcome variables. Propensity score methods offer an alternative whereby the propensity score is used to compare individuals in the treatment and control groups who would have had the same value of the mediator had they been assigned to the same treatment condition. This article describes the use of propensity score weighting for mediation with a focus on explicating the underlying assumptions. Propensity scores have the potential to offer an alternative estimation procedure for mediation analysis with alternative assumptions from those of standard mediation analysis. The methods are illustrated investigating the mediational effects of an intervention to improve sense of mastery to reduce depression using data from the Job Search Intervention Study (JOBS II). We find significant treatment effects for those individuals who would have improved sense of mastery when in the treatment condition but no effects for those who would not have improved sense of mastery under treatment.
The paper describes advances in statistical methods for prevention research with a particular focus on substance abuse prevention. Standard analysis methods are extended to the typical research designs and characteristics of the data collected in prevention research. Prevention research often includes longitudinal measurement, clustering of data in units such as schools or clinics, missing data, and categorical as well as continuous outcome variables. Statistical methods to handle these features of prevention data are outlined. Developments in mediation, moderation, and implementation analysis allow for the extraction of more detailed information from a prevention study. Advancements in the interpretation of prevention research results include more widespread calculation of effect size and statistical power, the use of confidence intervals as well as hypothesis testing, detailed causal analysis of research findings, and meta-analysis. The increased availability of statistical software has contributed greatly to the use of new methods in prevention research. It is likely that the Internet will continue to stimulate the development and application of new methods.
prevention; statistical methods; substance abuse
The most commonly used method to test an indirect effect is to divide the estimate of the indirect effect by its standard error and compare the resulting z statistic with a critical value from the standard normal distribution. Confidence limits for the indirect effect are also typically based on critical values from the standard normal distribution. This article uses a simulation study to demonstrate that confidence limits are imbalanced because the distribution of the indirect effect is normal only in special cases. Two alternatives for improving the performance of confidence limits for the indirect effect are evaluated: (a) a method based on the distribution of the product of two normal random variables, and (b) resampling methods. In Study 1, confidence limits based on the distribution of the product are more accurate than methods based on an assumed normal distribution but confidence limits are still imbalanced. Study 2 demonstrates that more accurate confidence limits are obtained using resampling methods, with the bias-corrected bootstrap the best method overall.
This study investigated a method to evaluate mediational processes using latent growth curve modeling. The mediator and the outcome measured across multiple time points were viewed as 2 separate parallel processes. The mediational process was defined as the independent variable influencing the growth of the mediator, which, in turn, affected the growth of the outcome. To illustrate modeling procedures, empirical data from a longitudinal drug prevention program, Adolescents Training and Learning to Avoid Steroids, were used. The program effects on the growth of the mediator and the growth of the outcome were examined first in a 2-group structural equation model. The mediational process was then modeled and tested in a parallel process latent growth curve model by relating the prevention program condition, the growth rate factor of the mediator, and the growth rate factor of the outcome.
Mediating variables continue to play an important role in psychological theory and research. A mediating variable transmits the effect of an antecedent variable on to a dependent variable, thereby providing more detailed understanding of relations among variables. Methods to assess mediation have been an active area of research for the last two decades. This paper describes the current state of methods to investigate mediating variables.
mediation; indirect effect; statistical methods
A Monte Carlo study compared 14 methods to test the statistical significance of the intervening variable effect. An intervening variable (mediator) transmits the effect of an independent variable to a dependent variable. The commonly used R. M. Baron and D. A. Kenny (1986) approach has low statistical power. Two methods based on the distribution of the product and 2 difference-in-coefficients methods have the most accurate Type I error rates and greatest statistical power except in 1 important case in which Type I error rates are too high. The best balance of Type I error and statistical power across all cases is the test of the joint significance of the two effects comprising the intervening variable effect.
This article proposes Bayesian analysis of mediation effects. Compared to conventional frequentist mediation analysis, the Bayesian approach has several advantages. First, it allows researchers to incorporate prior information into the mediation analysis, thus potentially improving the efficiency of estimates. Second, under the Bayesian mediation analysis, inference is straightforward and exact, which makes it appealing for studies with small samples. Third, the Bayesian approach is conceptually simpler for multilevel mediation analysis. Simulation studies and analysis of two datasets are used to illustrate the proposed methods.
Single-level mediation; Multilevel Mediation; Bayesian inference; Credible Interval
Objective To explain, through mediation analyses, the mechanisms by which ATHENA (Athletes Targeting Healthy Exercise and Nutrition Alternatives), a primary prevention and health promotion intervention designed to deter unhealthy body shaping behaviors among female high school athletes, produced immediate changes in intentions for unhealthy weight loss and steroid/creatine use, and to examine the link to long-term follow-up intentions and behaviors. Methods In a randomized trial of 1668 athletes, intervention participants completed coach-led peer-facilitated sessions during their sport season. Participants provided pre-test, immediate post-test, and 9-month follow-up assessments. Results ATHENA decreased intentions for steroid/creatine use and intentions for unhealthy weight loss behaviors at post-test. These effects were most strongly mediated by social norms and self-efficacy for healthy eating. Low post-test intentions were maintained 9 months later and predicted subsequent behavior. Conclusions ATHENA successfully modified mediators that in turn related to athletic-enhancing substance use and unhealthy weight loss practices. Mediation analyses aid in the understanding of health promotion interventions and inform program development.
adolescents; educational interventions; health promotion and prevention; lLongitudinal research; peers; mediation analysis.
Worksites are important locations for interventions to promote health. However, occupational programs with documented efficacy often are not used, and those being implemented have not been studied. The research in this report was funded through the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act Challenge Topic 'Pathways for Translational Research,' to define and prioritize determinants that enable and hinder translation of evidenced-based health interventions in well-defined settings.
The IGNITE (investigation to guide new insights for translational effectiveness) trial is a prospective cohort study of a worksite wellness and injury reduction program from adoption to final outcomes among 12 fire departments. It will employ a mixed methods strategy to define a translational model. We will assess decision to adopt, installation, use, and outcomes (reach, individual outcomes, and economic effects) using onsite measurements, surveys, focus groups, and key informant interviews. Quantitative data will be used to define the model and conduct mediation analysis of each translational phase. Qualitative data will expand on, challenge, and confirm survey findings and allow a more thorough understanding and convergent validity by overcoming biases in qualitative and quantitative methods used alone.
Findings will inform worksite wellness in fire departments. The resultant prioritized influences and model of effective translation can be validated and manipulated in these and other settings to more efficiently move science to service.
R2 effect-size measures are presented to assess variance accounted for in mediation models. The measures offer a means to evaluate both component paths and the overall mediated effect in mediation models. Statistical simulation results indicate acceptable bias across varying parameter and sample-size combinations. The measures are applied to a real-world example using data from a team-based health promotion program to improve the nutrition and exercise habits of firefighters. SAS and SPSS computer code are also provided for researchers to compute the measures in their own data.
This paper describes methods for testing mediation and moderation effects in a dataset, both together and separately. Investigations of this kind are especially valuable in prevention research to obtain information on the process by which a program achieves its effects and whether the program is effective for subgroups of individuals. A general model that simultaneously estimates mediation and moderation effects is presented, and the utility of combining the effects into a single model is described. Possible effects of interest in the model are explained, as are statistical methods to assess these effects. The methods are further illustrated in a hypothetical prevention program example.
Mediation; Indirect effect; Moderation; Mediated moderation; Moderated mediation
Mediation analysis is widely used in the social sciences. Despite the popularity of mediation models, few researchers have used graphical methods, other than structural path diagrams, to represent their models. Plots of the mediated effect can help a researcher better understand the results of the analysis and convey these results to others. This article presents a method for creating and interpreting plots of the mediated effect for a variety of mediation models, including models with a dichotomous independent variable, a continuous independent variable, and an interaction between an independent variable and the mediating variable. An empirical example is then presented to illustrate these plots. Finally, sample code for creating plots of the mediated effect in R and SAS is included.
Mediation models are widely used, and there are many tests of the mediated effect. One of the most common questions that researchers have when planning mediation studies is, “How many subjects do I need to achieve adequate power when testing for mediation?” This article presents the necessary sample sizes for six of the most common and the most recommended tests of mediation for various combinations of parameters, to provide a guide for researchers when designing studies or applying for grants.
Recent advances in testing mediation have found that certain resampling methods and tests based on the mathematical distribution of 2 normal random variables substantially outperform the traditional z test. However, these studies have primarily focused only on models with a single mediator and 2 component paths. To address this limitation, a simulation was conducted to evaluate these alternative methods in a more complex path model with multiple mediators and indirect paths with 2 and 3 paths. Methods for testing contrasts of 2 effects were evaluated also. The simulation included 1 exogenous independent variable, 3 mediators and 2 outcomes and varied sample size, number of paths in the mediated effects, test used to evaluate effects, effect sizes for each path, and the value of the contrast. Confidence intervals were used to evaluate the power and Type I error rate of each method, and were examined for coverage and bias. The bias-corrected bootstrap had the least biased confidence intervals, greatest power to detect nonzero effects and contrasts, and the most accurate overall Type I error. All tests had less power to detect 3-path effects and more inaccurate Type I error compared to 2-path effects. Confidence intervals were biased for mediated effects, as found in previous studies. Results for contrasts did not vary greatly by test, although resampling approaches had somewhat greater power and might be preferable because of ease of use and flexibility.
Each day in India, an estimated 5,500 youth initiate tobacco use, contributing to predictions that by 2020, tobacco will account for 13% of all deaths in India. Project MYTRI (Mobilizing Youth for Tobacco-Related Initiatives in India) is a multi-component school-based intervention designed to prevent and reduce tobacco use among adolescents in Delhi and Chennai, India. The intervention was implemented over the 2004-2006 school years and involved 6th and 8th grade students in 32 classrooms. Students participated in peer-led classroom activities involving games, competitions, and other activities intended to target a number of psychosocial risk factors believed to prevent tobacco use among urban Indian youth. To more fully understand how Project MYTRI influenced students' intentions to smoke or chew tobacco, the current study used mediation analysis to investigate whether Project MYTRI altered the psychosocial risk factors as intended, and whether the changes in psychosocial risk factors were, in turn, responsible for altering students' tobacco-use intentions. Multi-level mediation models were estimated using student data from baseline and one-year follow-up surveys. Results indicated that the psychosocial risk factors Knowledge of Health Effects, Normative Beliefs, Reasons to Use Tobacco, and Perceived Prevalence were significant mediators between the intervention activities and students' tobacco use intentions. Evidence of inconsistent mediation was observed for the Perceived Prevalence factor. These findings, combined with those from qualitative research and the second-year student data, will help to illuminate the impact of Project MYTRI on participating youth.
mediation analysis; tobacco prevention; adolescents; India; psychosocial risk factors