Using Ecological Momentary Assessment (EMA) to investigate
young adult substance use in the natural environment
Johannes Thrul, PhD
Department of Mental Health
Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health
During our last mHealth Interest Group meeting on November 2, we were treated to an excellent talk by Johannes Thrul - newly appointed faculty member at the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health and an expert in Ecological Momentary Assessment (EMA) and substance use. EMA - the real-time repeated sampling of behaviors in the natural environment - is a concept that has been around for a little over a decade and most commonly used in the social and behavioral sciences. In his early scientific career, Dr. Thrul has harnessed the power of EMA techniques to conduct groundbreaking research, assessing both use and co-use of tobacco, alcohol and cannabis among young adults in the natural environment. Dr. Thrul's current research focuses on using mHealth technologies (smartphones, social media, etc.) to develop, test and deliver evidence-based cognitive behavioral interventions to prevent and treat substance use disorders.
During his talk, Dr. Thrul presented a number of past studies that employed EMA techniques in the collection and assessment of behavioral data. While these studies had different methods and objectives, they all shared Dr. Thrul's innovative flare. From developing mobile apps to collecting and implementing GPS coordinates in behavioral interventions, Dr. Thrul showcased his creativity and expertise in leveraging mHealth to study complex behaviors in the natural environment. We look forward to learning from and collaborating with Dr. Thrul in future mHealth studies!