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Adapting substance use brief interventions for adolescents: perspectives of adolescents living with adults in substance use disorder treatment

Authors Padwa H, Guerrero EG, Serret V, Rico M, Gelberg L

Received 21 June 2018

Accepted for publication 22 September 2018

Published 5 December 2018 Volume 2018:9 Pages 137—142


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewer comments 3

Editor who approved publication: Professor Li-Tzy Wu

Howard Padwa,1 Erick G Guerrero,2,3 Veronica Serret,2 Melvin Rico,4 Lillian Gelberg4–6

1University of California, Los Angeles, Department of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences, Integrated Substance Abuse Programs, Los Angeles, CA, USA; 2University of Southern California, Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work, Los Angeles, CA, USA; 3University of Southern California, Marshall School of Business, Los Angeles, CA, USA; 4University of California, Los Angeles, David Geffen School of Medicine, Department of Family Medicine, Los Angeles, CA, USA; 5University of California, Los Angeles, Fielding School of Public Health, Department of Health Policy and Management, Los Angeles, CA, USA; 6Department of Veterans Affairs Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System, Office of Healthcare Transformation and Innovation, Los Angeles, CA, USA

Background: Brief interventions (BIs) have shown potential to reduce both alcohol and drug use. Although BIs for adults have been studied extensively, little is known about how to adapt them to meet the needs and preferences of adolescents. This article examines adolescents’ preferences to consider when adapting BIs for use with adolescents.
Methods: Eighteen adolescents (age 9–17 years) living in Los Angeles County with adults receiving substance use disorder treatment were interviewed and asked about their perspectives on how to adapt a BI originally developed for adults for use with adolescents. Questions focused on adolescents’ preferences for who should deliver BIs, how BIs should be delivered, and what content they would want to be included in BIs. Interviews were recorded, transcribed, and coded using summative content analysis.
Results: Adolescents did not express any discernable opinions concerning who delivers BIs or what content they would want to be included, but they did share perspectives on how BIs should be delivered. Most adolescents did not endorse incorporating text messaging or social media into BIs. Instead they preferred having BIs delivered face-to-face or over the telephone. They reported that they did not want BIs to incorporate text messaging or social media due to concerns about trust, the quality of information they would receive, and challenges communicating in writing instead of speaking.
Conclusion: Although the study has limitations because of its small sample size, findings indicate that adolescents may not want text messaging or social media to be incorporated into BIs for substance use. These findings warrant further research and consideration, particularly as work to enhance BIs for adolescents continues.

Keywords: adolescents, substance use, brief interventions, SBIRT, health communication preferences

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