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JMIR Res Protoc. 2015 Jul 17;4(3):e87. doi: 10.2196/resprot.3852.

Mobile App-Delivered Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Insomnia: Feasibility and Initial Efficacy Among Veterans With Cannabis Use Disorders.

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National Center for PTSD, VA Palo Alto Health Care System, Menlo Park, CA, United States.



Cannabis is the most frequently used illicit substance in the United States resulting in high rates of cannabis use disorders. Current treatments for cannabis use are often met with high rates of lapse/relapse, tied to (1) behavioral health factors that impact cannabis use such as poor sleep, and (2) access, stigma, supply, and cost of receiving a substance use intervention.


This pilot study examined the feasibility, usability, and changes in cannabis use and sleep difficulties following mobile phone-delivered Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Insomnia (CBT-I) in the context of a cannabis cessation attempt.


Four male veterans with DSM-5 cannabis use disorder and sleep problems were randomized to receive a 2-week intervention: CBT-I Coach mobile app (n=2) or a placebo control (mood-tracking app) (n=2). Cannabis and sleep measures were assessed pre- and post-treatment. Participants also reported use and helpfulness of each app. Changes in sleep and cannabis use were evaluated for each participant individually.


Both participants receiving CBT-I used the app daily over 2 weeks and found the app user-friendly, helpful, and would use it in the future. In addition, they reported decreased cannabis use and improved sleep efficiency; one also reported increased sleep quality. In contrast, one participant in the control group dropped out of the study, and the other used the app minimally and reported increased sleep quality but also increased cannabis use. The mood app was rated as not helpful, and there was low likelihood of future participation.


This pilot study examined the feasibility and initial patient acceptance of mobile phone delivery of CBT-I for cannabis dependence. Positive ratings of the app and preliminary reports of reductions in cannabis use and improvements in sleep are both encouraging and support additional evaluation of this intervention.


CBT-I; cannabis; intervention; marijuana; sleep

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