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Joël Swendsen“Mobile technologies in addiction research: from etiology to treatment"

Abstract :

Despite their contributions to addiction research, the methods of epidemiology, psychology and clinical psychiatry are characterized by two major limitations in understanding substance use disorders.
A first barrier concerns the inability of these domains to characterize rapidly fluctuating phenomena, such as craving and substance use. A second concerns the limited ecological validity of data collected in a single environmental context. Cellular telephones and other mobile technologies are able to overcome these barriers of time and context, and can detect the immediate precursors of substance use in real-time and in authentic daily life situations. Using mobile technologies in addiction research offers new opportunities for testing theories of etiology that are inaccessible to standard clinical paradigms, and it is increasingly used to deliver personalized interventions to patients. This presentation will review the methodological contributions of this novel approach, and illustrate how it has helped researchers overcome longstanding barriers in the field.

Selected publications

1. Swendsen J, Burstein M, Case B, Conway K, Dierker L, He J, Merikangas K. Alcohol and drug use and abuse in U.S. Adolescents. Archives of General Psychiatry, 2012 in press.
2. Swendsen J, Le Moal M. Individual vulnerability to addiction. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences. 2011;1216:73-85.

3. Swendsen J, Ben-Zeev D, Granholm E. Real-time electronic ambulatory monitoring of substance use and symptom expression in schizophrenia. American Journal of Psychiatry. 2011;168:202-9.

4. Swendsen J, Conway KP, Degenhardt L, Glantz M, Merikangas KR, Sampson N, Kessler RC. Mental Disorders as Risk factors for Substance Use, Abuse and Dependence: Results from the 10-year Follow-up of the National Comorbidity Survey. Addiction. 2010; 105: 1117-28.

5. Swendsen J, Conway KP, Degenhardt L, Dierker L, Glantz M, Jin R, Merikangas KR, Sampson N, Kessler RC. Sociodemographic Risk Factors for Alcohol and Drug Dependence: The 10-year Follow-up of the National Comorbidity Survey. Addiction, 2009; 104: 1346-55.

Scientific focus :

My research examines the most common mental disorders in the general population (anxiety disorders, mood disorders, psychosis and substance use disorders). In addition to their high prevalence, approximately 80% of people with one of these conditions will meet diagnostic criteria for at least one other disorder. It is therefore important that these syndromes be studies simultaneously within the same research program. A more specific objective of my work in this area is to examine the etiology and comorbidity of these disorders in light of vulnerability-stress theories. Two distinct research branches can be identified: 1. a "Macro" approach that describes the co-occurrence of these disorders in the general population (epidemiology); and 2. a "micro" approach using ambulatory data collection methods that are adapted to studying the temporally brief associations among variables.

Martine Cador et Véronique Deroche-Gamonet