A Mixed-Methods Evaluation of the Feasibility, Acceptability, and Preliminary Efficacy of a Mobile Intervention for Methadone Maintenance Clients

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Abstract

Despite the recent explosion of behavioral health interventions delivered on mobile devices, little is known about factors that make such applications practical, engaging and useful to their target audience. This study reports on the feasibility, acceptability and preliminary efficacy of a prototype of a novel, interactive mobile psychosocial intervention to reduce problematic drug use among clients in methadone maintenance treatment (MMT). A mixed-methods pilot study with new MMT clients (n = 25) indicated that the mobile intervention approach was feasible, and that participants found the intervention highly acceptable and useful. On 100-point visual analog scale (VAS) items, participants reported high levels of liking the program (M = 75.6), and endorsed it as useful (M = 77.5), easy to use (M = 80.7), and containing a significant amount of new information (M = 74.8). When compared with 25 study participants who received standard MMT alone, pilot participants rated their treatment significantly higher in interestingness and usefulness, and were significantly more satisfied with their treatment. In qualitative interviews, participants reported using the mobile intervention in a range of settings, including during times of heightened risk for substance use, and finding it helpful in managing drug cravings. Additionally, pilot participants showed evidence of increased treatment retention and abstinence from illicit opioids (in terms of effect size) over a 3-month period relative to those in standard MMT, suggesting the application’s potential to enhance treatment outcomes. These promising findings suggest that an evidence-based mobile therapeutic tool addressing substance use may appeal to drug treatment clients and have clinical utility as an adjunct to formal treatment.

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