Interactive Voice Response with Feedback Intervention in Outpatient Treatment of Substance Use Problems in Adolescents and Young Adults: A Randomized Controlled Trial

Int J Behav Med. 2017 Oct;24(5):789-797. doi: 10.1007/s12529-016-9625-0.


Purpose: Substance use disorders and problematic substance use are common problems in adolescence and young adulthood. Brief personalized feedback has been suggested for treatment of alcohol and drug problems and poor mental health. This repeated measurement randomized controlled trial examines the effect of an interactive voice response (IVR) system for assessing stress, depression, anxiety and substance use.

Methods: The IVR system was used twice weekly over 3 months after treatment initiation, with or without addition of a personalized feedback intervention on stress and mental health symptoms. Both IVR assessment only (control group) and IVR assessment including feedback (intervention group) were provided as an add-on to treatment-as-usual procedures (TAU) in outpatient treatment of substance use problems in adolescents and young adults (N = 73).

Results: By using a mixed models approach, differences in change scores were analyzed over the three-month assessment period. Compared to the control group, the intervention group demonstrated significantly greater improvement in the Arnetz and Hasson stress score (AHSS, p = 0.019), the total Symptoms Checklist 8 score (SCL-8D, p = 0.037), the SCL-8D anxiety sub-score (p = 0.017), and on a summarized feedback score (p = 0.026), but not on the depression subscale. There were no differences in global substance use scores between the intervention group (feedback on mental health symptoms) and the control group.

Conclusion: In conclusion, IVR may be useful for follow-up and repeated interventions as an add-on to regular treatment, and personalized feedback could potentially improve mental health in adolescents and young adults with problematic substance use.

Keywords: Adolescents; Interactive voice response (IVR); Mental health problems; Outpatient treatment; Randomized controlled trial (RCT); Substance use disorder; Young adults.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Alcoholism / rehabilitation*
  • Anxiety / therapy
  • Depression / therapy
  • Feedback
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Outpatients*
  • Substance-Related Disorders / rehabilitation*
  • Young Adult