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EASS Speaker Spotlight: Developing Smartphone Interventions for Alcohol Use

Eric Pedersen, PhD, and a team of colleagues are working to develop online and smartphone interventions for alcohol use across populations (e.g., college students, veterans) and contexts (e.g., temporarily living abroad). Dr. Pedersen’s work has important implications for the development of mobile health interventions for myriad populations. One intervention, Pregaming Awareness in College Environments (PACE), targets risky drinking associated with pregaming among college students. Initial results found that individuals assigned to the PACE group demonstrated greater reductions in drinking days, pregaming days, and alcohol consequences compared to the control group at 6-week follow-up. Though significant group differences were not retained at 14-weeks, PACE shows promise as a mobile-based tool for addressing risky pregaming behavior and intervention effects may be improved by inclusion of booster sessions or additional intervention content. In addition to pregaming behaviors, Dr. Pedersen and colleagues developed and studied a mobile intervention to address heavy drinking and risky sex behaviors among college students studying abroad. The TREK program is a brief intervention intended to minimize heavy drinking and increase use of alcohol and sexual protective behavioral strategies while abroad. Preliminary findings yielded a small, but significant effect of TREK on risky sexual behavior. Though TREK decreased weekly alcohol quantity and binge drinking frequency, results were non-significant. Future examinations of TREK may include additional content and booster sessions to address risky drinking and sexual behaviors.

Dr. Pederson’s work also extends to veterans. Using a mindfulness-based approach, Dr. Pedersen and colleagues are developing a smartphone application to address comorbid posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and alcohol use. Mind Guide expands on the existing Mindfulness Coach program to include components of Mindfulness Based Relapse Prevention. Initial examination of Mind Guide found reductions in PTSD symptomology, alcohol use frequency, alcohol craving, perceived stress, and emotion dysregulation. Though in its early stages, Mind Guide demonstrates strong promise as a mobile application for PTSD-alcohol use among veterans. Dr. Pedersen and colleagues are presently recruiting participants for a randomized controlled trial of Mind Guide.

As part of the Emerging Addiction Science Seminar Series (Rutgers University Center of Alcohol and Substance Use Studies, Dr. Pedersen will be giving an in-person presentation titled, Comorbid PTSD and Substance Use in Veterans: Implementing Internet-Based Interventions.

DATE: Thursday November 30, 12:30-1:30 Eastern

To register: https://alcoholstudies.rutgers.edu/education/emerging-addiction-seminar-series/

Dr. Eric Pedersen Dr. Pedersen is an associate professor of Psychiatry and the Behavioral Sciences at the University of Southern California Keck School of Medicine and an adjunct behavioral scientist at the RAND Corporation. He also serves as the editor for the journal Cannabis. His work examines substance use and co-occurring mental health disorders in veteran and young adult populations. Pedersen also has examined constructs of guilt, mindfulness, pain, sleep, and adverse experiences as they relate to PTSD, alcohol, and cannabis use.


  • Davis, J. P., Pedersen, E. R., Borsari, B., Bowen, S., Owen, J., Sedano, A., … & Bunyi, J. (2023). Development of a mobile mindfulness smartphone app for post-traumatic stress disorder and alcohol use problems for veterans: Beta test results and study protocol for a pilot randomized controlled trial. Contemporary Clinical Trials, 129, 107181. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cct.2023.107181
  • Pedersen, E. R., D’Amico, E. J., LaBrie, J. W., Klein, D. J., Farris, C., & Griffin, B. A. (2023). A randomized controlled trial of an online alcohol and sexual risk prevention program for college students studying abroad. Journal of Substance Use and Addiction Treatment, 145, 208951. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.josat.2023.208951
  • Pedersen, E. R., Hummer, J. F., Davis, J. P., Fitzke, R. E., Tran, D. D., Witkiewitz, K., & Clapp, J. D. (2023). A mobile-based pregaming drinking prevention intervention for college students: A pilot randomized controlled trial. Psychology of Addictive Behaviors. Advance online publication. https://doi.org/10.1037/adb0000925