RITS: a toolbox for assessing complex interventions via interrupted time series models.

Maricela Cruz, Marco A Pinto-Orellana, Daniel L Gillen, Hernando C Ombao

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


BackgroundVarious interacting and interdependent components comprise complex interventions. These components create difficulty in assessing the true impact of interventions designed to improve patient-centered outcomes. Interrupted time series (ITS) designs borrow from case-crossover designs and serve as quasi-experimental methodology able to retrospectively assess the impact of an intervention while accounting for temporal correlation. While ITS designs are aptly situated for studying the impacts of large-scale public health policies, existing ITS software implement rigid ITS methodology that often assume the pre- and post-intervention phases are fully differentiated (by a known change-point or set of time points) and do not allow for changes in both the mean functions and correlation structure.ResultsThis article describes the Robust Interrupted Time Series (RITS) toolbox, a stand-alone user-friendly application researchers can use to implement flexible ITS models that estimate the lagged effect of an intervention on an outcome, level and trend changes, and post-intervention changes in the correlation structure, for single and multiple ITS. The RITS toolbox incorporates a formal test for the existence of a change in the outcome and estimates a change-point over a set of possible change-points defined by the researcher. In settings with multiple ITS, RITS provides a global over-all units change-point and allows for unit-specific changes in the mean functions and correlation structures.ConclusionsThe RITS toolbox is the first piece of software that allows researchers to use flexible ITS models that test for the existence of a change-point, estimate the change-point (if estimation is desired), and allow for changes in both the mean functions and correlation structures at the change point. RITS does not require any knowledge of a statistical (or otherwise) programming language, is freely available to the community, and may be downloaded and used on a local machine to ensure data protection.
Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalBMC Medical Research Methodology
StatePublished - Jul 9 2021

Bibliographical note

KAUST Repository Item: Exported on 2021-07-13
Acknowledgements: We thank Dr. Miriam Bender (University of California Irvine) for providing us with data used to generate our example datasets.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Epidemiology


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