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Socializing a Science-based Digital Therapeutic for Substance Use Disorders

Funding Source

NIDA, R43DA047150

Project Period

9/1/18 - 2/29/20

Principal Investigator

Lisa Marsch, PhD (Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth College) (Co-I); Michael Grabinski (Red 5 Group, LLC) (PI)

Other Project Staff

Sarah Bessen; Christina Fleischer

Project Summary

Digital therapeutics are redefining the future of medicine. Digital therapeutics refer to the use of mobile technology to provide personalized, digital health interventions to treat diseases. These tools enable anytime and anywhere healthcare. Our team has developed a unique mobile platform (Laddr®) which integrates science-based, digital therapeutics for multiple health domains. Laddr employs validated, science-based techniques to address a wide range of behavioral problems in the context of a single mobile platform. This platform provides a scalable model for delivering digital therapeutics to treat any disease with a behavioral component. And, it allows for the concurrent treatment of more than one disease within a given individual. In this SBIR application, we propose to expand Laddr to allow its users to engage a support network of their choosing in their journey of behavior change. Interventions that leverage social support networks can help keep individuals engaged in treatment, reinforce their successes, and help them troubleshoot challenges. Research has shown that engaging a support network of non- substance users (e.g., family members, friends) in one’s substance use disorder treatment can greatly enhance treatment outcomes. In this project, individuals can in real-time share data from Laddr about their successes and challenges, and their support network can offer anytime/anywhere social support. Social support will be embedded within a strongly science-based digital therapeutic. To our knowledge, this project will be the first to “go social” with science-based digital therapeutics.

Public Health Relevance

To our knowledge, this project will be the first to socialize science-based digital therapeutics. In a world that has used digital technology to create unprecedented models of social communication across the globe, this project is distinct in that it uses digital technology to support science-based, social communications to help treat disease. Laddr® can provide scalable, science-based solutions for substance use disorder care and may also inform generalizable and scalable solutions to the treatment of disease that transcend specific diseases, populations, and contexts.