Electronic screening and brief intervention to reduce marijuana use and consequences among graduate students presenting to a student health center: a pilot study
Goodness, Tracie Marie
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BACKGROUND: Marijuana is one of the most frequently used drugs among individuals in emerging adulthood (i.e., 18-25) and is associated with negative health and academic consequences. As the majority of students do not seek treatment for their marijuana use, electronic screening and brief intervention (eSBI) has been used to reach students in “opportunistic” settings (e.g., primary care). Despite its promise for reducing hazardous drinking, the impact of eSBI for marijuana use has been mixed. Moreover, research to date has focused on undergraduates. There is little known about whether such approaches may influence graduate student marijuana use and consequences. The current pilot study sought to address this gap in the literature by examining an eSBI approach for reducing marijuana use among graduate students presenting to Student Health Services (SHS). METHODS: Graduate students were screened during their visit to SHS. Those with monthly or greater marijuana use were approached to participate in the study. Forty-nine students completed web-based assessments and were randomly assigned to a web-based brief intervention (BI) or assessment only (AO). Participants completed measures of marijuana use frequency and negative consequences at baseline, 3- and 6-months. Those in the BI condition completed a commercially available web-based intervention [eCHECKUPTOGO-marijuana] at baseline and at 3-months. In addition, readiness-to-change and descriptive norms were examined as potential moderators. It was hypothesized that those in the BI group would have fewer days of marijuana use and fewer negative consequences at the 6-month outcome. Latent growth modeling was used to provide effect size estimates for the influence of the intervention on 6-month outcomes. RESULTS: Effect size estimates showed a small-to-medium effect (f 2 = 0.09) of the intervention on marijuana use frequency at 6-months. There was no evidence that the intervention influenced negative consequences. Secondary analyses suggested that those with higher levels of readiness-to-change (measured by the Action subscale) showed greater responsiveness to the intervention. CONCLUSIONS: These results suggest that eCHECKUPTOGO-marijuana intervention may hold promise as a method to reduce marijuana use among graduate students who present to primary care settings. Future research should test the efficacy of this approach in a full-scale randomized controlled trial.