Responsiveness to mHealth Intervention for Cannabis Use in Young Adults Predicts Improved Outcomes

Nikola M. Zaharakis, Michael J. Mason, Cady Berkel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Mobile health (mHealth) interventions have proliferated rapidly in part because of their advantages in reducing consumer and provider burden, but less attention has been paid to participant responsiveness to mHealth programs and how this may affect outcomes. This study adds to that literature by examining whether participant responsiveness to a text messaging-delivered intervention was predictive of treatment outcomes over baseline levels of the outcome. We analyzed data from a pilot-randomized controlled trial of a text messaging-intervention to treat young adults with cannabis use disorder (treatment arm, N = 47), examining three indicators of responsiveness (two behavioral: treatment completion and booster message participation; and one subjective: perceived helpfulness of treatment) on abstinence from cannabis use and use-related problems measured at 3-month follow-up. With the exception of completion, the indicators were positively correlated with each other. Each of the indicators was predictive of better treatment outcomes above and beyond baseline risk. Treatment completion and booster participation—measured via technical data captured during intervention administration—appeared to be stronger predictors of improved outcomes than self-reported perceived helpfulness. Results suggest that behavioral and subjective responsiveness measures appear to be valid indicators of treatment response to mHealth interventions for substance use. Responsiveness measured via technical data captured during intervention administration may be a stronger and more efficient strategy for monitoring continued engagement. We discuss implications of these findings for deploying mHealth interventions at scale and monitoring responsiveness.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)630-635
Number of pages6
JournalPrevention Science
Issue number4
StatePublished - May 2022


  • Engagement
  • Intervention effects
  • Participant responsiveness
  • mHealth

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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