Psychology Ph.D. Dissertations

Title

Using the Theory of Planned Behavior to Predict Employing Harm Reduction Strategies Among Ecstasy Users

Date of Award

2016

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)

Department

Psychology/Clinical

First Advisor

Harold Rosenberg (Committee Chair)

Second Advisor

John Tisak (Committee Member)

Third Advisor

Robert Carels (Committee Member)

Fourth Advisor

Melissa Burek (Committee Member)

Abstract

I designed two studies to evaluate the Theory of Planned Behavior (TPB; Attitudes, Subjective Norms, Perceived Behavioral Control, Intention) plus Habit Strength (i.e., habitual engagement in a behavior) as a model predicting how often ecstasy users engaged in three specific harm reduction strategies. In study one I recruited 136 participants from several websites to complete baseline TPB and Habit Strength measures in relation to hydrating (drinking water/electrolyte-rich beverages) and pre/post-loading (consuming vitamins/supplements) while using MDMA/ecstasy. I also included Passionate Attachment to using MDMA/ecstasy as a predictor of Intention to engage in both strategies. After two months, participants reported how often they hydrated and pre/post-loaded during the study. The regression model predicting Intention to pre/post-load was significant, and Attitudes was the only significant predictor. The regression model predicting pre/post-loading at follow-up was also significant, and Intention and Habit Strength were significant predictors. The regression model predicting Intention to hydrate was significant, and Attitudes and Perceived Behavioral Control were significant predictors. However, the regression model predicting hydration during the two-month follow-up was not significant. In study two I recruited 100 participants from Facebook to complete baseline TPB and Habit Strength measures in relation to pre/post-loading and pill-testing/checking (i.e., attempting to determine chemical composition of ecstasy) while using MDMA/ecstasy. After two months, participants reported how often they pre/post-loaded and pill tested/checked during the study. The regression model predicting Intention to pre/post-load was significant, and Attitudes was the only significant predictor. The regression model predicting pre/post-loading at follow-up was also significant, and Habit Strength was the only significant predictor. The regression model predicting Intention to pill test/check was significant, and all three TPB variables were significant predictors. The regression model predicting pill testing/checking at follow-up was also significant, and Intention was the only significant predictor. These findings provide partial support for TPB variables as a model predicting Intention to implement and actual use of three harm reduction strategies by MDMA/ecstasy users. Clinicians, harm reduction workers, and researchers should evaluate whether education regarding the benefits and importance of implementing these strategies increases Intention to implement and actual use of these strategies among MDMA/ecstasy users.

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