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Cell phone-based ecological momentary assessment of substance use context for Latino youth in outpatient treatment: Who, what, when and where



Relationships between alcohol, marijuana and other drug (AOD) use and contextual factors have mostly been established through retrospective self-report. Given the embeddedness of cell phones in adolescents' daily activities, cell phone-based ecological momentary assessment (CEMA) provides an opportunity to better understand AOD use in youth and how cell phones can be used to self-monitor and deliver interventions. We use CEMA to examine AOD use in Latino youth who have been especially understudied.


Twenty-eight mostly Latino youth (ages 13-18) in outpatient substance abuse treatment recorded AOD use, contextual factors, cravings, and affect through once-daily CEMA over one month periods. Random-effects logistic regression was used to compare contextual factors between periods of AOD use and non-use.


The most frequent contextual factors reported during AOD use were being with close friends and "hanging out" as the primary activity. During AOD use compared to non-use, youth were more likely to be with close friends (OR=4.76; p<0.01), around users (OR=17.69; p<0.01), and at a friend's house (OR=5.97; p<0.01). Alcohol use was more frequently reported at night (63% vs 34%) and on weekends relative to other substances (64% vs 49%). Strong cravings were more frequently reported on AOD-use days (OR=7.34; p<0.01). Types of positive and negative affect were reported with similar frequencies, regardless of AOD use.


Reporting on social context, location, day and time of day, and cravings all show promise in developing cell phone-based interventions triggered by contextual data.

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