Association for Behavior Analysis International

The Association for Behavior Analysis International® (ABAI) is a nonprofit membership organization with the mission to contribute to the well-being of society by developing, enhancing, and supporting the growth and vitality of the science of behavior analysis through research, education, and practice.


48th Annual Convention; Boston, MA; 2022

Event Details

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Symposium #569
CE Offered: BACB
Physical Activity, Drinking, and Smartphone Use During a Global Pandemic: Investigating Variables That Impact Choice Behavior Related to Health and Wellness
Monday, May 30, 2022
5:00 PM–5:50 PM
Meeting Level 1; Room 103
Area: CBM/CSS; Domain: Applied Research
Chair: Meghan Deshais (Rutgers University)
CE Instructor: Meghan Deshais, Ph.D.

Many Americans struggle to consistently make choices that support their health and wellness under optimal conditions. Those choices become even more challenging when people are faced with increased stressors, limited resources, and social isolation, things that many people experienced during the COVID-19 pandemic. The three presentations in this symposium all focus on behaviors impacting people’s health and were conducted during the COVID-19 pandemic. In the first presentation, researchers assessed the effects of adding motivational interviewing to a client-led behavioral coaching intervention to increase physical activity. In the second presentation, researchers evaluated the effects of a tele-health delivered contingency management + deposit contract intervention on problematic smartphone use with individuals who reported experiencing negative side effects of smartphone use. In the third presentation, researchers analyzed the relationship between alcohol consumption and other variables in a large sample of adults using the Reinforcer Pathology model, a behavioral economic model of addiction.

Instruction Level: Intermediate
Keyword(s): choice, health, wellness
Target Audience:

Practitioners, Researchers interested in health behavior

Learning Objectives: At the conclusion of the presentation, participants will be able to: (1) describe the effects of a contingency management and deposit contract intervention on problematic smartphone usage in college students; (2) explain the impact of adding motivational interviewing to a client-led behavioral coaching intervention on physical activity; (3) discuss how the COVID-19 pandemic offered an opportunity to evaluate all three components of the reinforcer pathology model.

The Effects of Behavioral Health Coaching Plus Motivational Interviewing on the Physical Activity of Healthy Adults

RYLEY ACREA (University of the Pacific), Matthew P. Normand (University of the Pacific), Carolynn S. Kohn (University of the Pacific)

Health coaching (a client-centered approach to improve health outcomes) shows promise as a preventive strategy to reduce the burden of illnesses caused by physical inactivity. One component of health coaching that warrants more research is motivational interviewing. The current study used a multiple baseline across participants design to determine the effects of adding motivational interviewing to a client-led behavioral coaching intervention to increase physical activity. All participants took more steps during intervention compared to baseline, and three of four participants met their daily goal more often during the Behavioral Coaching plus MI phase compared to the Behavioral Coaching phase alone. The current study provides a method for evaluating the effectiveness of MI as part of a behavioral intervention and suggests that MI might be facilitative when added to a behavioral intervention.


A Preliminary Evaluation of the Effects of a Contingency Management and Deposit Contract Intervention on Problematic Smartphone Use With College Students

DEVIN JUNE WILLIAMS-BUTTARI (Caldwell University ), Meghan Deshais (Rutgers University), Sharon A. Reeve (Caldwell University), Kenneth F. Reeve (Caldwell University)

Problematic smartphone use (i.e., use that impedes the user’s daily functioning or results in harmful consequences) is a growing public health concern (Busch & McCarthy, 2021) that could be addressed via behavioral intervention. We recruited six college students who reported experiencing negative side effects of smartphone use and who sought to decrease their daily problematic smartphone use (PSU). The effects of a telehealth delivered contingency management (CM) + deposit contract intervention on smartphone use was evaluated. During the CM + deposit contract condition, participants deposited $40 and had the opportunity to earn back their entire deposit by meeting daily smartphone usage goals. To promote adherence to research procedures, participants also had the opportunity to earn a $20 cooperation bonus. During the intervention, three of six participants met their daily smartphone usage goals in 100% of sessions. For all participants, lower levels of PSU were observed during intervention relative to baseline. These findings provide preliminary evidence that CM +deposit contract interventions could be a viable, low-cost approach to addressing PSU.

The Behavioral Economics of Lockdown: An Examination of Depression and Drinking to Cope as Reinforcement Pathology During Summer, 2020
MATTHEW J DWYER (Rowan University), Bethany R. Raiff (Rowan University)
Abstract: Some have suggested modeling drinking to cope with depression during the COVID-19 pandemic through a behavioral economic model of addiction, known as Reinforcer Pathology (RP). RP models are said to be comprised of three parts: (1) high reinforcer demand, (2) steep discounting of delayed rewards and (3) low levels of engagement or access to alternative reinforcing activities. These three components are said to contribute to problematic alcohol use. However, studies rarely include measures of all three components in a single study, and previous studies evaluating engagement with alternative reinforcing activities have been limited in scope, focused primarily on college students. Furthermore, RP has not been used to identify the behavioral mechanisms of drinking to cope with depression during the pandemic and its associated lockdown requirements. These early restrictions imposed in response to the pandemic presented an opportunity to evaluate the RP model. The goal of this study was to investigate how engagement in valued activity, in a general online population, mediates the relationship between alcohol use and depressive symptomology during COVID-19 restrictions. Participants (n = 820) were recruited from social media websites between June and July of 2020 who endorsed past month alcohol use. For this first stage of analyses, the relationship between engagement in valued activities, depression, and alcohol use were modeled. Results supported behavioral activation mediating the relationship between depression and alcohol use, suggesting preliminary support for the RP model, however additional analyses comprising the other components of the RP are still in progress.



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