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J Health Commun. 2017 May;22(5):413-432. doi: 10.1080/10810730.2017.1303556. Epub 2017 Apr 10.

A Systematic Review of the mHealth Interventions to Prevent Alcohol and Substance Abuse.

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a School of Nursing , University of North Carolina at Charlotte , Charlotte , North Carolina , USA.
b Brown School of Public Health , Brown University , Providence , Rhode Island , USA.
c Department of Psychiatry , University of California, San Francisco , San Francisco , California , USA.
d Psychology Department , Central Michigan University , Mt. Pleasant , Michigan , USA.
e Department of Mathematics and Statistics , University of North Carolina at Charlotte , Charlotte , North Carolina , USA.
f Department of Counseling , University of North Carolina at Charlotte , Charlotte , North Carolina , USA.


Substance abuse in young adults is a public health issue with costs to the individual and society. There is mounting evidence that the increased uses of mHealth approaches have promise as a way to facilitate reductions in substance use. This systematic review evaluated the recent body of research on mHealth-based interventions for substance use, with aims of (a) examining the functionality and effectiveness of these interventions, (b) evaluating the available research on the effectiveness of these interventions for substance use, and (c) evaluating the design, methodology, results, theoretical grounding, limitations, and implications of each study. We identified eligible studies by searching electronic databases using Boolean methods. The reviewed studies (N = 12) indicated that that a wide range of Internet-based, text messaging, and smartphone application interventions have been developed to address substance use. Interventions had an assortment of features; participants in each study highlighted the ease and convenience of the interventions; and the majority of studies provided support for the efficacy of mHealth in reducing substance use. Mobile technology is a promising tool for reducing substance use and warrants further development. Future practice including the use of mHealth interventions can be an integral part of reducing substance use.

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