Mobile health technology using a wearable sensorband for female college students with problem drinking: An acceptability and feasibility study

Noelle Regina Leonard, Michelle Silverman, Dawa Phuti Sherpa, Madeline A. Naegle, Hyorim Kim, Donna L. Coffman, Marcy Ferdschneider

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: An increasing number of mobile app interventions have been developed for problem drinking among college students; however, few studies have examined the integration of a mobile app with continuous physiological monitoring and alerting of affective states related to drinking behaviors. Objective: The aim of this paper was to evaluate the acceptability and feasibility of Mind the Moment (MtM), a theoretically based intervention for female college students with problem drinking that combines brief, in-person counseling with ecological momentary intervention (EMI) on a mobile app integrated with a wearable sensorband. Methods: We recruited 10 non-treatment seeking, female undergraduates from a university health clinic who scored a 3 or higher on the Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test–Consumption (AUDIT-C) to participate in this pilot study. Study activities involved an in-person baseline intake and 1 follow-up assessment, 2 in-person alcohol brief intervention counseling sessions, and use of MtM technology components (sensorband and EMI on a mobile app) for approximately 3-4 weeks. The intervention used motivational interviewing (MI) and cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) strategies for reducing risks associated with drinking. We used both qualitative and quantitative assessments to measure acceptability of the intervention and feasibility of delivery. Use patterns of the sensorband and mobile app were also collected. Results: Quantitative and qualitative data indicated high levels of acceptability for the MtM intervention. Altogether, participants made reports on the app on 26.7% (78/292) the days the technology was available to them and completed a total of 325 reports with wide variation between participants. Qualitative findings indicated that sensorband-elicited alerts promoted an increase in awareness of thoughts, feelings, and behaviors related to current environmental stressors and drinking behaviors in theoretically meaningful ways. Specific challenges related to functionality and form of the sensorband were identified. Conclusions: Delivering intervention material “just-in-time,” at the moment participants need to use behavioral strategies has great potential to individualize behavioral interventions for reducing problem drinking and other health behaviors. These findings provide initial evidence for the promise of wearable sensors for increasing potency of theoretically grounded mobile health interventions and point to directions for future research and uptake of these technologies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere90
JournalJMIR mHealth and uHealth
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2017


  • Acceptability studies
  • Alcohol use
  • College students
  • Ecological momentary intervention
  • Feasibility studies
  • Wearable sensors

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Informatics


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