New Grant: Smartphone-Based Interventions For Alcohol Abuse

November 23, 2015:
Congratulations to the team of researchers from The Methodology Center and North Carolina State University on their recently awarded grant fromliquorbottles the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, “Data-Based Methods for Just-in-Time Adaptive Interventions in Alcohol Use.” Despite the many problems associated with alcohol abuse, relatively few people in the United States receive treatment for alcohol use disorders.  Using smartphones to deliver interventions will allow more people to be treated, and will reduce the cost of treatment. This project aims to develop the methods and algorithms needed to provide each individual with the proper intervention exactly when he or she needs it.

The just-in-time adaptive intervention (JITAI) leverages the immense amount of data a smartphone or other mobile device can collect about a user’s activity level, location, and more. As these data are collected, JITAIs link these data in real time to the best treatment option, such as a behavioral intervention, a cognitive intervention, or social support. A JITAI responds to an individual’s specific circumstances to provide the needed treatment just in time. The JITAIs developed in this project will help prevent, treat, and promote recovery from alcohol use disorders.

Principal Investigator Susan Murphy states, “The focus of this grant is on data analytics to support real-time precision medicine. That is, these algorithms will allow us to personalize the JITAI dynamically as each individual goes about their life.   Two people may appear very similar in terms of their background and present situation.  But by tracking how each person responds to treatments, these analytics will allow us to personalize the JITAI to provide the right intervention at the right time and in the right setting for that person.”

Methodology Center Principal Investigator Susan Murphy and her team at the University of Michigan created and are developing JITAIs. The team for this project consists of experts in statistical methods (Susan Murphy, Eric Laber), computer science (Ambuj Tewari), and health behavior change and alcohol use (Inbal Nahum-Shani). The researchers will disseminate JITAIs and related innovations through peer-reviewed journal articles, an advanced workshop, and open-source software.

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