Acceptability and effectiveness of a web-based psychosocial intervention among criminal justice involved adults

J. D. Lee, B. Tofighi, R. McDonald, A. Campbell, M. C. Hu, E. Nunes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: The acceptability, feasibility and effectiveness of web-based interventions among criminal justice involved populations are understudied. This study is a secondary analysis of baseline characteristics associated with criminal justice system (CJS) status as treatment outcome moderators among participants enrolling in a large randomized trial of a web-based psychosocial intervention (Therapeutic Education System [TES]) as part of outpatient addiction treatment. Methods: We compared demographic and clinical characteristics, TES participation rates, and the trial’s two co-primary outcomes, end of treatment abstinence and treatment retention, by self-reported CJS status at baseline: 1) CJS-mandated to community treatment (CJS-mandated), 2) CJS-recommended to treatment (CJS-recommended), 3) no CJS treatment mandate (CJS-none). Results: CJS-mandated (n = 107) and CJS-recommended (n = 69) participants differed from CJS-none (n = 331) at baseline: CJS-mandated were significantly more likely to be male, uninsured, report cannabis as the primary drug problem, report fewer days of drug use at baseline, screen negative for depression, and score lower for psychological distress and higher on physical health status; CJS-recommended were younger, more likely single, less likely to report no regular Internet use, and to report cannabis as the primary drug problem. Both CJS-involved (CJS -recommended and -mandated) groups were more likely to have been recently incarcerated. Among participants randomized to the TES arm, module completion was similar across the CJS subgroups. A three-way interaction of treatment, baseline abstinence and CJS status showed no associations with the study’s primary abstinence outcome. Conclusions: Overall, CJS-involved participants in this study tended to be young, male, and in treatment for a primary cannabis problem. The feasibility and effectiveness of the web-based psychosocial intervention, TES, did not vary by CJS-mandated or CJS-recommended participants compared to CJS-none. Web-based counseling interventions may be effective interventions as US public safety policies begin to emphasize supervised community drug treatment over incarceration.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number3
JournalHealth and Justice
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 1 2017


  • Addiction
  • Criminal justice
  • Neurocognitive performance
  • Web-based treatment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Law


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