UNC Study Examining Marijuana Use Among College Students

Researchers will use text messaging to ask questions about marijuana use and academic performance

A study by the University of Northern Colorado funded by the National Institutes of Health will examine how marijuana use among college students relates to their academic motivation and performance.

The three-year study will involve real-time assessments of 150 college students who use marijuana. UNC faculty researchers Kristina Phillips, Michael Phillips and Trent Lalonde seek to better understand factors related to heavy marijuana use, such as craving, psychological problems such as depression and anxiety, and academic motivation, performance and persistence.

"One substance-related factor that often gets little attention is craving," the researchers noted in their research summary. "It is possible that greater marijuana craving could lead to more frequent marijuana use, thus impacting not only the cognitive focus of students but also their motivation for academic work."

A unique feature of the study will involve data collection through text messaging. Students involved in the project will be asked to respond to questions via text message in real-time. Assessments will also include a follow-up review of participants' academic records.

According to the researchers, marijuana is the most commonly used illicit substance in the United States. In Colorado, rates of marijuana use are among the highest in the nation, with approximately 30 percent of young adults reporting use within the last month.

About the Award

  • Project title: Understanding the Dynamics of College Student Marijuana Use: A Study using EMA (Ecological Momentary Assessment)
  • Grant award: $402,249 over three years
  • Funding agency: National Institutes of Health
  • Researchers: Principal investigators Kristina Phillips, Ph.D., and Michael Phillips, Ph.D., UNC School of Psychological Sciences; and Trent Lalonde, Ph.D., Department of Applied Statistics and Research Methods