The Intervention Selection Bias: An Underrecognized Confound in Intervention Research

Robert E. Larzelere, Brett R. Kuhn, Byron Johnson

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

110 Scopus citations


Selection bias can be the most important threat to internal validity in intervention research, but is often insufficiently recognized and controlled. The bias is illustrated in research on parental interventions (punishment, homework assistance); medical interventions (hospitalization); and psychological interventions for suicide risk, sex offending, and juvenile delinquency. The intervention selection bias is most adequately controlled in randomized studies or strong quasi-experimental designs, although recent statistical innovations can enhance weaker designs. The most important points are to increase awareness of the intervention selection bias and to systematically evaluate plausible alternative explanations of data before making causal conclusions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)289-303
Number of pages15
JournalPsychological Bulletin
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 2004

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychology(all)


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