Mobile phone-based intervention programs to reduce substance use among adolescents
Schools are particularly suitable settings to reach adolescents with substance use prevention programs because of the ease of delivery and access to young people within compulsory education. However, the implementation and dissemination of intervention programs in schools present serious challenges. First, teachers and other professionals need the time, motivation, knowledge, and skills to deliver the programs. Second, extensive resources, in terms of personnel, money, and time allocated to deliver substance use prevention, are required to prepare and administer such programs. Electronically delivered interventions (eg, via computer, Internet, or mobile phone) have the potential to overcome these obstacles that hinder successful program implementation and dissemination in schools at a larger scale. Electronically delivered interventions have a wide reach at a low cost and offer the opportunity to automatically deliver individually tailored contents that can be accessed at any time and in any place.
The results of two studies on the acceptance and efficacy of Internet- and SMS-based interventions provided in vocational and upper secondary schools are presented: (1) to reduce problematic alcohol consumption (MobileCoach Alcohol) and (2) to promote smoking cessation (MobileCoach Tobacco). In both interventions 3 out of 4 persons of the target group could be reached and the interventions resulted in a lower consumption of the targeted substance. Furthermore, the results on the acceptance and use of a mobile phone-based program (ready4life) for the promotion of life skills in apprentices are presented. Limitations and further developments of mobile phone-based programs for substance use prevention among young people will be discussed.