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Web-based intervention, eCHECKUPTO GO, decreases frequency of student marijuana use

Given the increasing legalization of marijuana use around the country, we can anticipate an increase in marijuana use among college students.  Even in states where legalization has not occurred, it is possible students will perceive more social acceptability to use marijuana than in the past.  Concurrently, universities may consider adopting programs that promote protective behavioral strategies (PBS) to reduce student marijuana use and related consequences.

The current study tested direct and indirect effects of the Marijuana eCHECKUPTO GO program with some adaptations.  eCHECKUPTO GO is a web-based intervention that offers personalized feedback (PF) and PBS to reduce marijuana use.  The feedback was tailored to the student’s university and also normative information about marijuana.

Participants included 298 heavy-using students from different universities in a state where recreational marijuana use is legal. Participants were randomly assigned to either the eCHECKUPTO GO program (n = 146) or to receive strategies for healthy stress management (HSM) (n = 155).  Data about use frequency, related problems, perceived marijuana use norms, and PBS were collected at baseline and 6 weeks after the intervention.

Compared to students in the HSM condition, eCHECKUPTO GO students showed decreased estimated use prevalence and fewer periods of time high from baseline to posttest. Women receiving eCHECKUPTO GO increased their use of PBS compared to men in this condition.  These results show preliminary support for the adapted Marijuana eCHECKUPTO GO program to reduce marijuana use among college students identified as heavy users.

Study limitations include sample attrition, reliance on self-report data, and the short duration (6 weeks) between intervention and posttest.  Sustained effects of eCHECKUPTO GO cannot be determined from the current study.

Take Away: eCHECKUPTO GO, a web-based intervention using protective behavioral strategies and personalized feedback, helps students reduce marijuana use up to 6 weeks later.

Riggs, N.R, Conner, B.T., Parnes, J.E., Prince, M.A., Shillington, A.M. & George, M.W. (2018). Marijuana eCHECKUPTO GO: Effects of a personalized feedback plus protective behavioral strategies intervention for heavy marijuana-using college students. Drug and Alcohol Dependence, 190, 13-19. doi.org/10.1016/j.drugalcdep.2018.05.020

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