Background: Cannabis use in adolescence is associated with multiple
psychosocial problems. Barriers to care limit access to evidence based interventions.
Electronic devices can facilitate access to interventions designed to reduce cannabis use.
Objective: We conducted a systematic review of randomized trials employing electronically
delivered interventions to assess for feasibility and effectiveness of this modality in reducing
cannabis use among adolescents and young adults.
Methods: Major databases were searched for randomized trials using electronically delivered
interventions (web-based + tablets, computers or CD-ROM) for cannabis use in adolescents
and young adults published before July 2016. The outcome measure was decrease in cannabis
use frequency. We conducted a quality assessment of these studies and qualitatively
synthesized study findings.
Results: Thirteen articles representing eleven studies were included in this systematic
review. Seven studies were effective in reducing cannabis use with small to medium effect
sizes (0.07 to 0.66). Studies with significant reduction in cannabis use were likely to be a
universal or selective intervention (100% [U], 80% [S)] vs 25% for indicated programs),
target early adolescence (100% vs 33% for middle or late adolescence), employ family
interaction theory (100% vs [33 -67%] for other theories) and have greater than 6 sessions
(100% vs 33% for shorter sessions).
Conclusion: Our findings indicate that electronically-delivered interventions aimed at
reducing cannabis use are feasible in youth, and can be effective. Certain factors, such as age
at delivery, underlying theory, and number of sessions appear to play a role in the
effectiveness of this mode of delivery. Further studies are needed to confirm these findings.