Background: Substance use among adolescents and emerging adults continues to be an important public health problem associated with morbidity and mortality. Mobile health (mHealth) provides a promising approach to deliver just-in-time adaptive interventions (JITAIs) to prevent escalation of use and substance use-related consequences.
Objective: This pilot study aims to describe the iterative development and initial feasibility and acceptability testing of an mHealth smartphone app, called MiSARA, designed to reduce escalation in substance use.
Methods: We used social media advertisements to recruit youth (n=39; aged 16-24 years, who screened positive for past-month binge drinking or recreational cannabis use) with a waiver of parental consent. Participants used the MiSARA app for 30 days, with feasibility and acceptability data reported at a 1-month follow-up. We present descriptive data regarding behavior changes over time.
Results: The results show that most participants (31/39, 79%) somewhat liked the app at least, with most (29/39, 74%) rating MiSARA as 3 or more stars (out of 5). Almost all participants were comfortable with self-reporting sensitive information within the app (36/39, 92%); however, most participants also desired more interactivity (27/39, 69%). In addition, participants' substance use declined over time, and those reporting using the app more often reported less substance use at the 1-month follow-up than those who reported using the app less often.
Conclusions: The findings suggest that the MiSARA app is a promising platform for JITAI delivery, with future trials needed to optimize the timing and dose of messages and determine efficacy.
Keywords: adolescents; alcohol misuse; cannabis; just-in-time adaptive intervention; mHealth; mobile phone; young adults.
©Lara N Coughlin, Inbal Nahum-Shani, Meredith L Philyaw-Kotov, Erin E Bonar, Mashfiqui Rabbi, Predrag Klasnja, Susan Murphy, Maureen A Walton. Originally published in JMIR mHealth and uHealth (http://mhealth.jmir.org), 15.01.2021.