Ana Abrantes, PhD

Professor of Psychiatry and Human Behavior


Advance-CTR Pilot Projects Program (2018)

"The Development of a Personalized, Real-time Intervention for Substance-Using Emerging Adults Leaving Psychiatric Partial Hospitalization"
Co-PI: Claire Blevins, PhD (Contact PI)

Emerging adulthood (ages 18-25) represents and common and problematic time for alcohol use and mental health issues, particularly anxiety and depression. Anxiety and depression increase the likelihood of developing risky patterns of alcohol use. Indeed, individuals who drink alcohol to cope with negative affect, such as anxiety and depression, report more alcohol use and more severe use-related consequences. As such, it is important to address alcohol use, particularly among a psychiatric population of emerging adults. Despite their co-occurrence, treatment as usual for anxiety and depression typically does not address alcohol use, and alcohol interventions for emerging adults largely ignore anxiety and depression. Emerging research suggests interventions that specifically focus on drinking to cope with negative affect are promising in reducing problematic outcomes. For example, we previously developed a brief, personalized feedback intervention that specifically targeted use of alcohol to cope with negative affect among a normative sample of emerging adults (PFIcope), which resulted in decreased drinking to cope. In order to adapt PFIcope for a psychiatric population and augment treatment effects, we propose adding ecological momentary assessment and intervention (EMA/EMI) in order to identify when emerging adults are at most risk for problematic alcohol use and intervene when needed. EMA can assess symptoms in real time and identify high-risk situations for problematic use (i.e., when experiencing negative affect and reports intention to use), which can trigger an in-the- moment EMI during that high-risk situation (i.e., individually-chosen relapse prevention coping skills messages). We propose to develop a 6-week PFIcope+EMI intervention for 20 emerging adults in a psychiatric partial hospitalization program who report drinking alcohol to cope with negative affect. This will include: 1) an in-person personalized feedback session to present normative information and feedback on problems associated with drinking to cope, to discuss the individual’s use of alcohol to cope, and to generate relapse prevention coping skills messages to be used in the EMI text intervention; 2) EMA to monitor affect and intention to drink after discharge; 3) tailored text messages (EMI) based on EMA responses (i.e., individualized coping skills messages when individuals report negative affect and intention to drink); and 4) additional EMA to monitor coping skills usage, alcohol use, and drinking to cope. The PFIcope+EMI intervention, including its associated real-time assessment and messaging systems, is low-cost, easy to program, and can deliver an intervention when individuals are at most risk for engaging in problematic alcohol use.

Mentor: Michael Stein, MD