Attentional and approach biases to alcohol cues among young adult drinkers: An ecological momentary assessment study.

Brian Suffoletto, Matt Field, Tammy Chung

Publication Date: 01/20/2020

Alcohol-specific attentional biases (AttB) and approach biases (AppB) are postulated to play a role in alcohol use disorders but their association with drinking in young adults remains unknown. A subsample of young adults with risky alcohol use (N = 296) enrolled in a randomized trial, testing different text message interventions completed weekly tasks via a mobile app for up to 14 weeks: Alcohol Stroop was used to measure AttB and Approach-Avoidance Task was used to measure AppB. Participants also provided reports of their alcohol consumption up to twice per week. We analyzed feasibility of measuring alcohol biases on mobile phones, whether repeated testing and conditions of testing affected mean reaction times (RTs), and whether mean AttB and AppB scores were associated with baseline alcohol use severity and same-day binge drinking (4+/5+ drinks per occasion for women/men). Task completion decreased from 93% on Week 1% to 39% by Week 14 with a mean of 8.2 weeks completed. Mean RTs for Alcohol Stroop decreased over weeks assessed. RTs to Stroop and Approach-Avoid tasks were longer when participants reported distractions or after alcohol and/or drug use. Mean AttB and AppB scores were not associated with baseline drinking, and within-day fluctuations of AttB and AppB scores did not predict same day binge drinking. Barriers to measuring alcohol biases in the natural environment include learning effects, contextual influences of distractions and prior alcohol/drug use, and absence of robust associations of RTs to alcohol cues with either baseline or same-day alcohol consumption. (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2020 APA, all rights reserved) Public Health Significance: We found that there are numerous challenges to measuring attentional and approach biases to alcohol cues from young adults in the natural environment. We also found that attentional and approach biases measured in the natural environment are not associated with alcohol use severity or event-level drinking amount. (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2020 APA, all rights reserved)…