Initial Feasibility and Validity of a Prospective Memory Training Program in a Substance Use Treatment Population

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Abstract

Individuals with substance use disorders have shown deficits in the ability to implement future intentions, called prospective memory. Deficits in prospective memory and working memory, a critical underlying component of prospective memory, likely contribute to substance use treatment failures. Thus, improvement of prospective memory and working memory in substance use patients is an innovative target for intervention. We sought to develop a feasible and valid prospective memory training program that incorporates working memory training and may serve as a useful adjunct to substance use disorder treatment. We administered a single session of the novel prospective memory and working memory training program to participants (n = 22; 13 men, 9 women) enrolled in outpatient substance use disorder treatment and correlated performance to existing measures of prospective memory and working memory. Generally accurate prospective memory performance in a single session suggests feasibility in a substance use treatment population. However, training difficulty should be increased to avoid ceiling effects across repeated sessions. Consistent with existing literature, we observed superior performance on event-based relative to time-based prospective memory tasks. Performance on the prospective memory and working memory training components correlated with validated assessments of prospective memory and working memory, respectively. Correlations between novel memory training program performance and established measures suggest that our training engages appropriate cognitive processes. Further, differential event- and time-based prospective memory task performance suggests internal validity of our training. These data support the development of this intervention as an adjunctive therapy for substance use disorders.

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