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Hawkins EJ, Lott AM, Danner AN, Malte CA, Dulin PL, Fortney JC, Sayre GG, Baer JS. U.S. veterans' experiences and factors associated with use of a smartphone application to self-manage unhealthy alcohol use. Psychological Services. 2022 Oct 13.
Unhealthy alcohol use is common among Operations Enduring and Iraqi Freedom (OEF/OIF) veterans, yet barriers discourage treatment-seeking. Mobile applications (apps) that deliver alcohol interventions have potential to address these barriers and increase treatment receipt. Few studies have qualitatively assessed users'' experiences with apps to manage alcohol use. We assessed OEF/OIF veterans'' experiences with Step Away, an app to reduce alcohol-related risks, to identify factors that may influence engagement. This single-arm pilot study recruited OEF/OIF veterans with positive alcohol screens nationwide using mail/telephone. Veterans aged 18-55 who exceeded drinking guidelines and owned an iPhone were eligible. Twenty-one (16 men, 5 women) of 55 participants completed interviews. Interviews were analyzed using thematic analysis. Participants found Step Away easy to use, although setup was time consuming. Participants reported increased awareness of alcohol use, highlighting daily assessment, weekly feedback, goal setting, and high-risk notification features as helpful and associated awareness with an intent to decrease use. Participants described Step Away as informative, with over half reporting they would use it outside of the study and most recommending it. Suggestions for improvement included greater personalization and control over features. Step Away features appear to influence engagement and increase users'' awareness about alcohol consumed and factors associated with drinking, as well as intent to change. Assessment, feedback, and customization features of apps may facilitate app engagement. (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2022 APA, all rights reserved).