APPLYING BEHAVIORAL ECONOMICS AND EMA TO PHYSICAL ACTIVITY AND MARIJUANA USE
COLLINS, R. LORRAINE Principal Investigator
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DESCRIPTION (provided by applicant): Marijuana is the most popular illegal substance used by emerging and young adults (age 18 to 25 years). This response to RFA-DA-09-013 uses a behavioral economics conceptual framework, ecological momentary assessment (EMA) and accelerometer data to examine questions related to physical activity (PA)/exercise as a positive alternative to the regular use of marijuana (MJ). The proposed program of translational research addresses whether PA/exercise could serve as a useful and effective secondary prevention strategy for reducing MJ use among young regular (i.e., minimum twice/week) MJ users, thereby reducing their risks for negative substance-related consequences. Secondary prevention and intervention strategies are most effective if they are based on sound scientific principles that can be translated into strategies for use in the field. We propose three conceptually-driven and methodologically-sophisticated studies designed to address the following three aims: 1) to examine the extent to which PA/exercise serves as a positive alternative to MJ use as indicated by behavioral economic indices of relative reinforcement value (RRV) and substitution of PA/exercise for MJ use. 2) To examine whether the intensity of PA/exercise acutely (30 minutes, 24 hours) affects MJ craving, intent to use MJ, and MJ use. 3) To examine the extent to which social facilitation of PA/exercise (i.e., exercise with and without a MJ buddy) affects MJ use, MJ craving and intent to use MJ, both acutely (30 minutes, 24 hours) and in the short-term (up to 7 days). Each study will involve 14 days of detailed and complex real-time data from EMA and accelerometers along with behavioral tasks designed to address the research questions. Each study will provide new and unique information about the association between PA/exercise and MJ use. However, the three studies are strongly linked by their shared conceptual framework (behavioral economics) and use of innovative state-of-the-science methods (e.g., accelerometers, EMA). This program of translational research is innovative in its application of EMA to understanding ongoing MJ use. The behavioral tasks will provide a scientifically rigorous basis for developing secondary prevention strategies based on PA/exercise. The combination of EMA and accelerometer data will provide a rich context for examining PA/exercise and MJ use and allow us to explore their dynamic relations over time. Findings from these studies will make significant contributions to the very limited scientific knowledge about relationships between PA/exercise and MJ use and will enrich the development of secondary prevention strategies to reduce substance abuse risk in vulnerable populations of MJ-using emerging and young adults. PUBLIC HEALTH RELEVANCE: The proposed translational research involves concepts derived from behavioral economic theory (relative value, behavioral choice/substitution) and state-of-the-science technologies to determine the utility of physical activity (PA)/exercise as a secondary prevention strategy to lessen marijuana (MJ) use. Emerging and young adults (age 18 to 25 years) will use cellular phones and interactive voice response technology to provide detailed ecological momentary assessment (EMA) data on MJ use and will wear accelerometers to provide data on PA levels. Experimental tasks, EMA and PA data will help to determine the extent to which PA/exercise can serve as a positive alternative to MJ use.