mHealth (mobile/wearable device) to reduce craving and use in substance use disorders

Summary of the evidence

  • Likely to be beneficial

Mobile health (mHealth) is defined as the use of mobile and wireless devices to deliver healthcare. mHealh interventions are divided between static interventions and connected interventions. Static interventions collect data from the individual (e.g., biologic or physiologic data, selfreported data (EMA), or geolocation) but do not provide dynamic feedback, rather use collected data after the fact to alter the treatment plan. Reactive or connected interventions, in contrast, collect data to provide customized responses to user input in real time.

Connected interventions were analysed in a narrative systematic review (Carreiro et al., 2020) and were defined as one that meets all of the following three criteria: 1) uses a wearable device and/or mobile phone/app, 2) collects data from a participant (e.g. biologic samples, physiologic data, geolocation, or self- report/Ecological Momentary Assessment), and 3) includes an intervention that was triggered based on data collected from the participant by the device.

The most commonly studied SUD was alcohol disorders (but 3 studies focused on cannabis and 1 on opioids). The most common intervention was some form of craving management and/or coping assistance (e.g. sending a mindfulness-oriented SMS text when a participant reports a craving).

 Connected mHealth interventions were found to be effective in:

  • reducing craving and substance use while the interventions were in use, with a possible sustained behavior change at short term (3–9 month) follow up.