Optimized behavioral interventions: What does system identification and control engineering have to offer?

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

22 Scopus citations


The last decade has witnessed an increasing interest in applying systems science concepts for problems in behavioral health, and using these to inform the design, analysis, and implementation of optimized interventions. How can system identification and control engineering impact interventions for chronic, relapsing disorders such as drug abuse, cigarette smoking and obesity? The paper addresses this question by focusing on the problem of time-varying "adaptive" interventions. In an adaptive intervention, dosages of intervention components are assigned based on the assessed values of tailoring variables that reflect some outcome measure (e.g., number of cigarettes smoked, parental function) or adherence (e.g, days abstinent). Because time-varying adaptive interventions constitute closed-loop dynamical systems, they are correspondlngly amenable to control engineering solutions. System identification is enabled by intensive longitudinal data (ILD) that can be obtained in the field via ecological momentary assessment (EMA); this creates the availability of rapidly sampled, continuous-time assessments from which dynamical system behavior can be discerned and modeled. How can system identification and control be applied in this broad setting is demonstrated with a number of illustrative problems: dynamic modeling and hybrid model predictive control of low-dose naltrexone as treatment for fibromyalgia, a chronic pain condition; modeling of a smoking cessation intervention involving bupropion and counseling; constructing a dynamic model of an intervention for preventing excessive weight gain during pregnancy, and Model-on-Demand Model Predictive Control in a hypothetical intervention based on the Fast Track program for assigning the frequency of home counseling visits to families with at-risk children.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationSYSID 2012 - 16th IFAC Symposium on System Identification, Final Program
PublisherIFAC Secretariat
Number of pages12
EditionPART 1
ISBN (Print)9783902823069
StatePublished - 2012
EventUniversite Libre de Bruxelles - Bruxelles, Belgium
Duration: Jul 11 2012Jul 13 2012

Publication series

NameIFAC Proceedings Volumes (IFAC-PapersOnline)
NumberPART 1
ISSN (Print)1474-6670


OtherUniversite Libre de Bruxelles


  • Adaptive behavioral interventions
  • Control engineering
  • Experiment design
  • Hybrid model predictive control
  • Social and behavioral sciences
  • System identification

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Control and Systems Engineering


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