A Mobile Phone-Based Life Skills Training Program for Substance Use Prevention Among Adolescents: Pre-Post Study on the Acceptance and Potential Effectiveness of the Program, Ready4life

Item Type Journal paper
Abstract

Background: Substance use and misuse often first emerge during adolescence. Generic life skills training that is typically conducted within the school curriculum is effective at preventing the onset and escalation of substance use among adolescents. However, the dissemination of such programs is impeded by their large resource requirements in terms of personnel, money, and time. Life skills training provided via mobile phones might be a more economic and scalable approach, which additionally matches the lifestyle and communication habits of adolescents.
Objective: The aim of this study was to test the acceptance and initial effectiveness of an individually tailored mobile phone–based life skills training program in vocational school students.
Methods: The fully automated program, named ready4life, is based on social cognitive theory and addresses self-management skills, social skills, and substance use resistance skills. Program participants received up to 3 weekly text messages (short message service, SMS) over 6 months. Active program engagement was stimulated by interactive features such as quiz questions, message- and picture-contests, and integration of a friendly competition with prizes in which program users collected credits with each interaction. Generalized estimating equation (GEE) analyses were used to investigate for changes between baseline and 6-month follow-up in the following outcomes: perceived stress, self-management skills, social skills, at-risk alcohol use, tobacco smoking, and cannabis use.
Results: The program was tested in 118 school classes at 13 vocational schools in Switzerland. A total of 1067 students who owned a mobile phone and were not regular cigarette smokers were invited to participate in the life skills program. Of these, 877 (82.19%, 877/1067; mean age=17.4 years, standard deviation [SD]=2.7; 58.3% females) participated in the program and the associated study. A total of 43 students (4.9%, 43/877) withdrew their program participation during the intervention period. The mean number of interactive program activities that participants engaged in was 15.5 (SD 13.3) out of a total of 39 possible activities. Follow-up assessments were completed by 436 of the 877 (49.7%) participants. GEE analyses revealed decreased perceived stress (odds ratio, OR=0.93; 95% CI 0.87-0.99; P=.03) and increases in several life skills addressed between baseline and the follow-up assessment. The proportion of adolescents with at-risk alcohol use declined from 20.2% at baseline to 15.5% at follow-up (OR 0.70, 95% CI 0.53-0.93; P=.01), whereas no significant changes were obtained for tobacco (OR 0.94, 95% CI 0.65-1.36; P=.76) or cannabis use (OR 0.91, 95% CI 0.67-1.24; P=.54).
Conclusions: These results reveal high-level acceptance and promising effectiveness of this interventional approach, which could be easily and economically implemented. A reasonable next step would be to test the efficacy of this program within a controlled trial.

Authors Haug, Severin; Paz Castro, Raquel; Meyer, Christian; Filler, Andreas; Kowatsch, Tobias & Schaub, Michael P
Journal or Publication Title JMIR mHealth and uHealth
Subjects information management
social sciences
other research area
Institute/School ?? STUDENT ??
ITEM - Institute of Technology Management with Transfer Center for Technology Management (TECTEM)
HSG Classification contribution to scientific community
HSG Profile Area SoM - Business Innovation
Refereed Yes
Date 2017
Volume 5
Number 10
Page Range e143
ISSN 2291-5222
Official URL http://dx.doi.org/10.2196/mhealth.8474
Depositing User Dr. oec. H Tobias Kowatsch
Date Deposited 14 Dec 2017 08:42
Last Modified 14 Dec 2017 08:42
URI: https://www.alexandria.unisg.ch/publications/252938

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Haug, Severin; Paz Castro, Raquel; Meyer, Christian; Filler, Andreas; Kowatsch, Tobias & Schaub, Michael P (2017) A Mobile Phone-Based Life Skills Training Program for Substance Use Prevention Among Adolescents: Pre-Post Study on the Acceptance and Potential Effectiveness of the Program, Ready4life. JMIR mHealth and uHealth, 5 (10). e143. ISSN 2291-5222

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https://www.alexandria.unisg.ch/id/eprint/252938
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