Using the Theory of Planned Behavior to predict implementation of harm reduction strategies among MDMA/ecstasy users

Psychol Addict Behav. 2016 Jun;30(4):500-8. doi: 10.1037/adb0000167.


This prospective study was designed to test whether the variables proposed by the Theory of Planned Behavior (TPB) were associated with baseline intention to implement and subsequent use of 2 MDMA/ecstasy-specific harm reduction interventions: preloading/postloading and pill testing/pill checking. Using targeted Facebook advertisements, an international sample of 391 recreational ecstasy users were recruited to complete questionnaires assessing their ecstasy consumption history, and their attitudes, subjective norms, perceived behavioral control, habit strength (past strategy use), and intention to use these two strategies. Attitudes, subjective norms, and perceived behavioral control were significantly associated with baseline intention to preload/postload and pill test/pill check. Out of the 391 baseline participants, 100 completed the two-month follow-up assessment. Baseline habit strength and frequency of ecstasy consumption during the three months prior to baseline were the only significant predictors of how often participants used the preloading/postloading strategy during the follow-up. Baseline intention to pill test/pill check was the only significant predictor of how often participants used this strategy during the follow-up. These findings provide partial support for TPB variables as both correlates of baseline intention to implement and predictors of subsequent use of these two strategies. Future investigations could assess whether factors related to ecstasy consumption (e.g., subjective level of intoxication, craving, negative consequences following consumption), and environmental factors (e.g., accessibility and availability of harm reduction resources) improve the prediction of how often ecstasy users employ these and other harm reduction strategies. (PsycINFO Database Record

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Attitude
  • Craving
  • Female
  • Harm Reduction*
  • Humans
  • Intention*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • N-Methyl-3,4-methylenedioxyamphetamine*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Psychological Theory
  • Self-Control
  • Social Norms
  • Substance-Related Disorders / psychology*
  • Substance-Related Disorders / therapy
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Young Adult


  • N-Methyl-3,4-methylenedioxyamphetamine