An Electronic Intervention to Reduce Cannabis Among Young Adults in Psychiatric Care

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    Rhode Island Hospital
Updated on 18 February 2022
substance use
psychiatric treatment
Accepts healthy volunteers


Cannabis use disorders are common among young adults in psychiatric treatment. Unfortunately, cannabis use can result in deleterious consequences for those in treatment, including developing more severe psychopathology and poorer treatment outcomes. Brief, electronic interventions for cannabis use have been developed for young adults. An example of a frequently used brief electronic intervention for cannabis users is e-Toke. e-Toke can be completed on a computer, tablet or phone, and has been shown to improve motivation to engage in substance use treatment among college students. However, e-Toke is less useful in decreasing the actual frequency of cannabis use. Additionally, e-toke is not tailored to young adults in psychiatric treatment. In this study, the investigators will develop and test a text messaging intervention that can be easily added to the popular computerized intervention e-Toke. The research staff hope the intervention will improve motivation to decrease cannabis use, and decrease the frequency of cannabis use, among young adults in psychiatric outpatient treatment. The text messages will be developed by, and tailored to, young adults in psychiatric treatment and texts will address motivations and barriers to reducing cannabis use in the context of psychiatric disorders. If the text message intervention is found to be an effective addition to e-Toke, this approach can be tested in a larger study, and then disseminated to other young adults in psychiatric treatment.


Young adults 18-28 years old have the highest prevalence rates of cannabis use. Unfortunately, the biological consequences of cannabis use are more severe compared to older adults. These specific biological consequences are due to the negative effect cannabis use has on neurological maturation permanently impacting motivation, impulsivity, and future addictive behavior. The neurological effects of cannabis use are most disruptive to young adults living with psychiatric illness. In the Young Adult Behavioral Health Program at Rhode Island Hospital, 68% of patient's ages 18-28 who are in treatment for psychiatric disorders have used cannabis, and of those that have used 24% use cannabis daily or weekly. These high rates of cannabis use result in deleterious consequences, including developing more severe psychopathology, increased rates of psychosis, impairments in educational achievement and occupational obtainment, poorer treatment outcomes, poorer adherence to treatment, and increased treatment costs. Motivational Enhancement Therapy (MET) is an efficacious strategy for improving readiness to decrease cannabis use and increase motivation to engage in substance use treatment. The MET program entitled eToke (also known as E-Check-Up to Go), is a popular, frequently used, and previously investigated brief computerized intervention with efficacy in improving readiness for change among college students. In this study, the investigators propose to develop a text messaging intervention that will accompany eToke and will be tailored to young adults with psychiatric illness with cannabis use disorders. This intervention will be called e-Toke+TPsy. The text messages used in this intervention will contain information about the deleterious consequences of cannabis use, motivational material about the specific risks of cannabis use for young adults in psychiatric treatment. Texts will also contain behavioral skill building exercises to help reduce the frequency of cannabis use. The material for the text messages will be developed with input from young adults receiving psychiatric care at the Young Adult Behavioral Health Program. Text messages will also be informed by the Information, Motivation, and Behavioral Skills Theory of learning (IMB Theory).

Condition Cannabis Use, Psychiatric Disorder
Treatment enhanced standard of care, eToke + TPsy
Clinical Study IdentifierNCT04174963
SponsorRhode Island Hospital
Last Modified on18 February 2022


Yes No Not Sure

Inclusion Criteria

- 28 years of age
Report using cannabis 2 or more times per week
English speaking
Have a telephone that can receive text-messages
Receive psychiatric treatment in the Young Adult Behavioral Health Program or Partial Program at Rhode Island Hospital
Be at high risk for psychosis according to mental health guidelines

Exclusion Criteria

Psychiatric symptoms severe enough to preclude meaningful consent or participation, as determined by the treatment psychiatrist and research team
Current clinical diagnosis of mental retardation or pervasive developmental disorder
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