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      Smartphone App Delivery of a Just-In-Time Adaptive Intervention for Adult Gamblers (Gambling Habit Hacker): Protocol for a Microrandomized Trial


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          People with gambling problems frequently report repeated unsuccessful attempts to change their behavior. Although many behavior change techniques are available to individuals to reduce gambling harm, they can be challenging to implement or maintain. The provision of implementation support tailored for immediate, real-time, individualized circumstances may improve attempts at behavior change.


          We aimed to develop and evaluate a Just-In-Time Adaptive Intervention (JITAI) for individuals who require support to adhere to their gambling limits. JITAI development is based on the principles of the Health Action Process Approach with delivery, in alignment with the principles of self-determination theory. The primary objective was to determine the effect of action- and coping planning compared with no intervention on the goal of subsequently adhering to gambling expenditure limits.


          Gambling Habit Hacker is delivered as a JITAI providing in-the-moment support for adhering to gambling expenditure limits (primary proximal outcome). Delivered via a smartphone app, this JITAI delivers tailored behavior change techniques related to goal setting, action planning, coping planning, and self-monitoring. The Gambling Habit Hacker app will be evaluated using a 28-day microrandomized trial. Up to 200 individuals seeking support for their own gambling from Australia and New Zealand will set a gambling expenditure limit (ie, goal). They will then be asked to complete 3 time-based ecological momentary assessments (EMAs) per day over a 28-day period. EMAs will assess real-time adherence to gambling limits, strength of intention to adhere to goals, goal self-efficacy, urge self-efficacy, and being in high-risk situations. On the basis of the responses to each EMA, participants will be randomized to the control (a set of 25 self-enactable strategies containing names only and no implementation information) or intervention (self-enactable strategy implementation information with facilitated action- and coping planning) conditions. This microrandomized trial will be supplemented with a 6-month within-group follow-up that explores the long-term impact of the app on gambling expenditure (primary distal outcome) and a range of secondary outcomes, as well as an evaluation of the acceptability of the JITAI via postintervention surveys, app use and engagement indices, and semistructured interviews. This trial has been approved by the Deakin University Human Research Ethics Committee (2020-304).


          The intervention has been subject to expert user testing, with high acceptability scores. The results will inform a more nuanced version of the Gambling Habit Hacker app for wider use.


          Gambling Habit Hacker is part of a suite of interventions for addictive behaviors that deliver implementation support grounded in lived experience. This study may inform the usefulness of delivering implementation intentions in real time and in real-world settings. It potentially offers people with gambling problems new support to set their gambling intentions and adhere to their limits.

          Trial Registration

          Australian New Zealand Clinical Trials Registry ACTRN12622000497707; www.anzctr.org.au/Trial/Registration/TrialReview.aspx?id=383568

          International Registered Report Identifier (IRRID)


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          The behavior change technique taxonomy (v1) of 93 hierarchically clustered techniques: building an international consensus for the reporting of behavior change interventions.

          CONSORT guidelines call for precise reporting of behavior change interventions: we need rigorous methods of characterizing active content of interventions with precision and specificity. The objective of this study is to develop an extensive, consensually agreed hierarchically structured taxonomy of techniques [behavior change techniques (BCTs)] used in behavior change interventions. In a Delphi-type exercise, 14 experts rated labels and definitions of 124 BCTs from six published classification systems. Another 18 experts grouped BCTs according to similarity of active ingredients in an open-sort task. Inter-rater agreement amongst six researchers coding 85 intervention descriptions by BCTs was assessed. This resulted in 93 BCTs clustered into 16 groups. Of the 26 BCTs occurring at least five times, 23 had adjusted kappas of 0.60 or above. "BCT taxonomy v1," an extensive taxonomy of 93 consensually agreed, distinct BCTs, offers a step change as a method for specifying interventions, but we anticipate further development and evaluation based on international, interdisciplinary consensus.
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              Efficacy of the Theory of Planned Behaviour: A meta-analytic review

              The Theory of Planned Behaviour (TPB) has received considerable attention in the literature. The present study is a quantitative integration and review of that research. From a database of 185 independent studies published up to the end of 1997, the TPB accounted for 27% and 39% of the variance in behaviour and intention, respectively. The perceived behavioural control (PBC) construct accounted for significant amounts of variance in intention and behaviour, independent of theory of reasoned action variables. When behaviour measures were self-reports, the TPB accounted for 11% more of the variance in behaviour than when behaviour measures were objective or observed (R2s = .31 and .21, respectively). Attitude, subjective norm and PBC account for significantly more of the variance in individuals' desires than intentions or self-predictions, but intentions and self-predictions were better predictors of behaviour. The subjective norm construct is generally found to be a weak predictor of intentions. This is partly attributable to a combination of poor measurement and the need for expansion of the normative component. The discussion focuses on ways in which current TPB research can be taken forward in the light of the present review.

                Author and article information

                JMIR Res Protoc
                JMIR Res Protoc
                JMIR Research Protocols
                JMIR Publications (Toronto, Canada )
                July 2022
                26 July 2022
                : 11
                : 7
                : e38919
                [1 ] Psychology and Neuroscience Auckland University of Technology Auckland New Zealand
                [2 ] School of Psychology Deakin University Geelong Australia
                [3 ] School of Population Health University of Auckland Grafton New Zealand
                [4 ] Data Drawer Consulting Sandringham Australia
                [5 ] Turning Point and Monash Addiction Research Centre, Eastern Health Clinical School, Monash University Melbourne Australia
                [6 ] Melbourne Graduate School of Education University of Melbourne Parkville Australia
                Author notes
                Corresponding Author: Simone N Rodda simone.rodda@ 123456aut.ac.nz
                Author information
                ©Simone N Rodda, Kathleen L Bagot, Stephanie S Merkouris, George Youssef, Dan I Lubman, Anna C Thomas, Nicki A Dowling. Originally published in JMIR Research Protocols (https://www.researchprotocols.org), 26.07.2022.

                This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License ( https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work, first published in JMIR Research Protocols, is properly cited. The complete bibliographic information, a link to the original publication on https://www.researchprotocols.org, as well as this copyright and license information must be included.

                : 21 April 2022
                : 25 May 2022
                : 31 May 2022
                : 31 May 2022

                just-in-time adaptive intervention,jitai,ecological momentary assessment,ema,ecological momentary intervention,emi,gambling,behavior change technique,implementation intentions,action planning,coping planning,microrandomized trial,mobile phone


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