Personalized Feedback Interventions for Individuals with Substance-Related Problems

Thursday, January 15, 2015: 3:30 PM-5:15 PM
Balconies L, Fourth Floor (New Orleans Marriott)
Cluster: Substance Misuse and Addictive Behaviors
Symposium Organizer:
Douglas C. Smith, PhD, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Personalized feedback interventions involve collecting detailed substance use assessment information and summarizing and presenting it back to individuals.  They are akin to medical checkups where the emphasis is on collecting the best possible objective data on substance use severity.  For example, some feedback interventions involve providing normative feedback, where one’s substance use frequency (i.e., number of days of binge drinking) is contrasted with norms from a large representative data base.  These interventions are generally efficacious for college students (Miller et al., 2012), but are rarely used in publicly funded treatment centers (Worden & McGrady, 2013).    However, with the movement toward integration of health and behavioral health care services due to the Affordable Care Act, personalized feedback interventions may become increasingly used due to their brevity and efficacy.   

Although there is a substantial evidence base on these interventions, numerous questions remain about for whom and under what circumstances personalized feedback interventions work best.  First, there are issues of whether or not individuals will perceive the objective feedback as credible, because individuals with heavy substance use often associate with other individuals who use at similar levels.   Additionally, there is very limited empirical on whether normative feedback is useful with adolescents (Barnett et al., 2012), as the effects have never been disentangled from larger bundles of services.  Finally, more work is needed on what mechanisms of change account for feedback interventions’ effects.  This symposium includes reports from two outcome evaluations and one observational study.  Studies address the following specific research questions highly relevant to improving personalized feedback treatments, including:


  1. Whether fraternity and sorority members perceive feedback as credible, and whether peer-delivered feedback intervention reduces their drinking,


  1. Whether adolescents have higher readiness to change, lower substance use, and better treatment engagement when randomized to Motivational Interviewing (MI) plus feedback versus MI only, and


  1. Whether the effects of feedback operate through increasing discrepancy between personal use and social norms or rather by capitalizing on existing concerns about personal use.

            Results from these studies expand our limited knowledge on these topics, and will assist us in refining current personalized treatments.

* noted as presenting author
Overview of Personalized Feedback Interventions
Douglas C. Smith, PhD, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
A Peer Facilitated Intervention to Reduce Risky Drinking Among Fraternity and Sorority Members
Dina J. Wilke, PhD, Florida State University; Annelise Mennicke, PhD, University of North Carolina at Charlotte; Richard L. Howell, MS, Florida State University; Amy B. Magnuson, PhD, RD/N, Florida State University
Dismantling the Effects of Normative Feedback for Adolescents: A Small Randomized Trial
Jordan P. Davis, MSW, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign; Douglas C. Smith, PhD, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign; Daniel, J. Ureche, MSW, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign; Karen Tabb, PhD, MSW, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Normative Feedback for Adult Drinkers: Intervention through Developing Discrepancy or By Validating Pre-Existing Worries?
Alexis Kuerbis, PhD, Hunter College, City University of New York; Fred Muench, Columbia University
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