Using the experience sampling method to support clinical practice: An illustration with problematic cannabis use


Objective:

The experience sampling method (ESM) has been frequently used in clinical research; however, there is low translational uptake in clinical practice. This may be due to challenges with interpreting individual-level data at granular intervals. We provide an illustrative example of how ESM can be leveraged to generate personalized cognitive-behavioral strategies for problematic cannabis use.


Method:

We conducted a descriptive case series analysis using ESM data from 30 individuals reporting on problematic cannabis use, craving, affect, and coping four times daily for 16-days (t = 64, T = 1,920).


Results:

Analyzing ESM data using descriptive statistics and visualizations from individuals with similar clinical and demographic profiles supported a diverse array of personalized clinical insights and recommendations for each case. These recommendations included psychoeducation regarding affect- and boredom-regulation strategies, functional analyses of occasions during which cannabis was not used, and discussions on how cannabis use intersects with one’s personal values.


Conclusion:

While many clinicians utilize measurement-based care, barriers have limited the incorporation of ESM towards personalized, data-informed approaches to treatment. We provide an illustrative example of how ESM data can be used to generate actionable treatment strategies for problematic cannabis use and highlight continued challenges with interpreting time-series data.


Keywords:

cannabis use; clinical recommendations; cognitive–behavioral strategies; experience sampling method; measurement-based care.

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