If You Build It, Will They Come? Associations Among Willingness to Use Social Media and mHealth Apps for Substance Use Treatment in an Adolescent Sample




Ahmed, Nick

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The ubiquitous use of smartphones and social media by adolescents makes mHealth an accessible platform for substance use treatment. In fact, there is growing research examining the use of digital platforms for the delivery of substance use treatment and intervention for adolescents. However, there is limited knowledge about individual differences that are associated with willingness to use digital treatment programs. The goal of this study was to examine whether barriers to outpatient treatment and the severity of substance use are related to youth’s willingness to use smartphone and other digitally-based interventions. The study provided a survey of smartphone use and digital intervention acceptability, barriers to treatment, and severity of substance use to a sample (N= 57) of adolescents enrolled in outpatient substance use treatment. The results showed a significant positive correlation between barriers to outpatient substance use treatment and the severity of substance use (r = .30, p = .024). Also, adolescents with more severe symptoms of substance use were more likely to have used social media to post information about wanting to stop using substances (t(54) = 2.33, p = .023). However, results were not significant for relations between barriers to substance use and interest in receiving support via a smartphone or any digital platforms (t(54) = .04, p = .97). The results of this study suggest the severity of substance use may be an important individual difference factor that is associated with the willingness to use digitally-based interventions for substance use among adolescents.



mHealth, Substance Use