Design of experiments with sequential randomizations on multiple timescales: the hybrid experimental design

Inbal Nahum-Shani*, John J. Dziak, Hanna Venera, Angela Fidler Pfammatter, Bonnie Spring, Walter Dempsey

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Psychological interventions, especially those leveraging mobile and wireless technologies, often include multiple components that are delivered and adapted on multiple timescales (e.g., coaching sessions adapted monthly based on clinical progress, combined with motivational messages from a mobile device adapted daily based on the person’s daily emotional state). The hybrid experimental design (HED) is a new experimental approach that enables researchers to answer scientific questions about the construction of psychological interventions in which components are delivered and adapted on different timescales. These designs involve sequential randomizations of study participants to intervention components, each at an appropriate timescale (e.g., monthly randomization to different intensities of coaching sessions and daily randomization to different forms of motivational messages). The goal of the current manuscript is twofold. The first is to highlight the flexibility of the HED by conceptualizing this experimental approach as a special form of a factorial design in which different factors are introduced at multiple timescales. We also discuss how the structure of the HED can vary depending on the scientific question(s) motivating the study. The second goal is to explain how data from various types of HEDs can be analyzed to answer a variety of scientific questions about the development of multicomponent psychological interventions. For illustration, we use a completed HED to inform the development of a technology-based weight loss intervention that integrates components that are delivered and adapted on multiple timescales.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalBehavior Research Methods
StateAccepted/In press - 2023


  • Digital interventions
  • factorial experiments
  • Hybrid experimental designs (HED)
  • Micro-randomized trial (MRT)
  • Multimodal adaptive intervention (MADI)
  • Sequential multiple assignment randomized trial (SMART)

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Psychology (miscellaneous)
  • Psychology(all)


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