Motives for Substance Use in Daily Life: A Systematic Review of Studies Using Ecological Momentary Assessment

Clin Psychol Sci. 2021 Jul 1;9(4):535-562. doi: 10.1177/2167702620978614. Epub 2021 Mar 31.


The motivational model of substance use posits four motive subtypes (coping, enhancement, social, conformity) dynamically interact with contextual factors to impact decisions about substance use. Yet, prior studies assessing the motivational model have relied on between-person, cross-sectional evaluations of trait motives. We systematically reviewed ecological momentary assessments (EMA) studies (N=64) on motives for substance use to examine: methodological features of EMA studies examining the motivational model, support for the motivational model between and within individuals, and associations between trait motives and daily processes. Results of the reviewed studies provide equivocal support for the motivational model, and suggest that EMA measures and trait measures of motives might not reflect the same construct. The reviewed body of research indicates most studies have not examined the momentary and dynamic nature of the motivational model and more research is needed to inform interventions that address heterogeneous reasons for substance use in daily life.