Most behavioral intervention studies, regardless of phase of development or where they are situated along the pipeline, will require some type of staffing. A principal investigator of a behavioral intervention study simply cannot do it all or alone. This is an important difference between this form of research and other research endeavors such as the analyses of secondary data sets, in which the staffing needs are specific to analytic and related research techniques and skills. The type of staffing needed for a behavioral intervention study will, of course, depend upon the study phase, the level of complexity of the study design, the characteristics, scope, and nature of the intervention as well as control groups involved and the characteristics of the targeted population. For example, important questions include: Do staff need to be bilingual? Do they need specific clinical expertise or knowledge of a targeted population? A Phase III efficacy trial with two treatment arms and a targeted sample of 300 study participants will require more staffing and oversight than a Phase I pilot phase in which a single component intervention is initially being constructed and evaluated for feasibility with 25 individuals. Whereas the former may require hiring upwards of 20 staff with diverse skill sets and roles and responsibilities, the latter may necessitate employing only a part-time research assistant. An intervention involving face-to-face sessions will require hiring two or more personnel to serve as interventionists whereas the test of a computer-automated telephone information intervention may require an instructional design expert to develop content and its presentation and a technician to assist with technical difficulties if they should occur in the field.
Regardless of study design and evaluative phase, there is a host of issues to consider related to staffing. These include learning about the hiring process in one’s institutional setting, securing space, specifying roles and responsibilities, designing a backup plan, and providing adequate training, ongoing support, and oversight.