Web application helps probationers deal with substance abuse problems

September 9, 2013

MAPIT helps probationers stay on-track
in their recoveries.

An online program developed by UNT Health Science Center professor Scott Walters, PhD, and others is helping more than 600 probationers in two of the country’s largest court systems meet the terms of their probation and stay motivated in their recovery from substance abuse.

The MAPIT program, funded by a grant from the National Institute on Drug Abuse, is an innovative idea developed by Walters, a professor in the School of Public Health, and colleagues from UNTHSC, Wayne State University, University of Virginia and George Mason University.

The web application, which is being used in Dallas and Baltimore, can recognize patterns in how people respond and make suggestions for strategies that might work for them. MAPIT can even send emails or text messages to remind people of their monthly goals.

“Essentially, MAPIT is the probationer’s partner,” Walters said. “Using a personal tone, open-ended questions, affirmations and summary feedback, MAPIT was found effective by users in initial studies, who told us that it seems to actually ‘listen’ and respond accordingly. They also felt that the anonymous nature of working with a computer was more comfortable than talking face to face with a counselor or probation officer about sensitive issues.”

Learn more:
Watch a MAPIT demonstration
on YouTube.

MAPIT uses “Jennifer,” a bright, friendly female voice with a non-specific dialect, preferred by users over other voices tested. MAPIT employs “persuasive” technology to change attitudes or behaviors through encouragement rather than coercion.

“About 3.5 million U.S. probationers need substance abuse treatment, but less than half actually complete it,” Walters said. “It’s a major cost to society. People are being incarcerated simply because they are unmotivated for treatment. So the question is, how can we motivate them to initiate treatment early on, before problems develop.”

Rita Fc
Women’s networking group started by TCOM leader earns national award

By Steven Bartolotta In 2007, TCOM’s Dr. Rita Patterson and Dr. Jennifer Wayne, a professor at Virginia Tech, recognized the need for women in the field of bioengineering to meet together, network, mentor and increase the representation of women in the field. Thus the ASME Bioengineering...Read more

Jun 23, 2021

Dr. Sid O'Bryant
Early findings of innovative study of Alzheimer’s among diverse populations available to dementia researchers

  A growing trove of data to help scientists understand the biology of Alzheimer’s disease among diverse populations within the context of sociocultural, behavioral and environmental factors is now available through the Institute for Translational Research at The University of North Te...Read more

Jun 22, 2021

Vic Holmes, Mpas, Edd, Pa C Assistant Professor
HSC Pride: Increased pronoun use is an emerging trend among health professionals

By Diane Smith-Pinckney The embroidery on Vic Holmes’ black scrubs identify him as a physician assistant and an ally to LGBTQ+ patients. The words, stitched under a rainbow-colored Caduceus pin and near his heart, read: “Vic Holmes, PA-C, He/Him/His, Family Medicine.” Pronouns are...Read more

Jun 21, 2021

Hsc Katie Pelch
Public health scientist lends expertise to national database addressing safer use of chemicals in our environment

By Sally Crocker Katie Pelch, PhD, wants you to know what’s in our environment and how the chemicals we’re exposed to every day may affect our health. Dr. Pelch is a part-time Assistant Professor, Department of Biostatistics and Epidemiology, in the HSC School of Public Health (SPH), where...Read more

Jun 21, 2021