August 2023

Doctoral candidate in psychiatric sciences Ovidiu Tatar, along with a team of Canadian and international researchers, has recently published in a prestigious psychiatry journal the results of a study that evaluated preferences of young adults with psychosis for online psychological interventions for decreasing cannabis use. Cannabis dependence is up to 15 times higher in young adults with psychosis compared to the general population and reducing cannabis use in these individuals improves clinical outcomes. Evaluating preferences for online interventions facilitates engagement in treatment and increases intervention efficacy.

Individuals with first episode psychosis and cannabis dependence from three Canadian provinces participated to an electronic survey between January 2020 and July 2022. The authors used advanced methods to collect and analyse participant opinions related to online psychological interventions and found higher preference for moderate intervention intensity, for example sessions with a length of fifteen minutes sessions that are completed once a week.  Participants valued the autonomy conferred by online interventions as these can be completed both at the clinic and outside the clinic. Importantly, app-based interventions for decreasing cannabis use were perceived as complementary to in-person delivered interventions. Participants expressed high preferences for using smartphones and interventions that incorporate video elements and enable chat communication with clinicians.  

In a world where our relationship with technology is ever evolving, this study informed the development of a novel mobile intervention app (iCanChange), which is undergoing clinical testing and could help people with first episode psychosis reduce cannabis use and facilitate their recovery.

Article by Christina McAnulty


1. Tatar O, Abdel-Baki A, Dyachenko A, Bakouni H,
Bahremand A, Tibbo PG, et al. 
Evaluating preferences for online psychological
interventions to decrease cannabis use in young adults withpsychosis: An
observational study
. Psychiatry Res. 2023 May 30;326:115276.