Investigating the utility of mobile phones for collecting data about adolescent alcohol use and related mood, stress and coping behaviours: Lessons and recommendations Academic Article uri icon


  • INTRODUCTION AND AIMS: The trajectory from alcohol use to alcohol use disorders in adolescence is yet to be understood. Momentary sampling may assist in capturing 'real-time' data on young people's alcohol use and associated motivational factors. This paper aims to review the feasibility and usefulness of a mobile phone momentary sampling program to capture data about alcohol use and related behaviours. DESIGN AND METHODS: Two studies were conducted: a school-based study with 18 Year 9 and 11 students and a clinical study with eight high-risk adolescent drinkers. Participants answered questions about their daily activities, alcohol use, stressors and negative mood four times a day for 1 week using a mobile phone momentary sampling program. RESULTS: In the school-based study, 61% of participants reported drinking alcohol. On drinking days participants spent less time studying (14% vs. 26%), more time sleeping or resting (35% vs. 12%) and more time hanging out (21% vs. 11%) than on non-drinking days. In the high-risk sample, 88% of participants reported drinking alcohol. On drinking days, these participants spent a greater proportion of their waking time with their boyfriend or girlfriend (19.2% vs. 6%) and generally had higher negative mood than on non-drinking days. DISCUSSION AND CONCLUSIONS: The current mobiletype program was well suited to capturing data on alcohol use in younger, school-attending adolescents. However, to capture alcohol use in older adolescents who lead less routine lives, it is necessary to make some amendments including targeting particular behaviours and symptoms. Recommendations for future studies are proposed.

publication date

  • January 1, 2009