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Currently submitted to: Journal of Medical Internet Research

Date Submitted: Jul 16, 2019
Open Peer Review Period: Jul 19, 2019 - Sep 13, 2019
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Assessing the acceptability and feasibility of web-based screening for psychoactive substances in a sample of French university students and workers: a mixed-method prospective study

  • Emmanuelle Anthoine; 
  • Julie Caillon; 
  • Xavier Deparis; 
  • Michel Blanche; 
  • Maxime Lebeaupin; 
  • Marc-Antoine Brochard; 
  • Jean-Luc Venisse; 
  • Leila Moret; 



Early detection in the prevention of addictive behaviours remains a complex question in practice for most first-line health professionals, despite its importance in terms of public health. Several prevention measures have successfully included a screening stage followed by a brief intervention in case of risk-related use or referral to an addiction centre for problematic use. Even though early detection is highly recommended by the WHO, it is not performed in practice.


To assess acceptability and feasibility of a web-based application, “Pulsio Santé”, for health service users and first-line prevention professionals.


A mixed-method prospective pilot study was conducted in 2017 in two departments: The Nantes occupational health department responsible for monitoring the health of salaried personnel across the region, and the university department of preventive medicine with a health unit dedicated to university students. In each department, all health professionals (physicians and nurses) were invited to participate in the study. Subjects 18 or older seen by a health professional from one of the departments were eligible. The study procedure comprised 4 phases: 1) inclusion of participants by health professionals face-to-face, 2) self-automated web-based assessment report filled in by participants on their substance use with “Pulsio Santé” based on ASSIST questionnaire. Participants received a text message on their smartphone or by email, 3) if participants agreed, they could transfer results to their health professional. If not, messages appeared allowing them to get in touch with their general practitioner, should the assessment detect a risk. Two levels of feasibility and acceptability criteria were assessed. Two focus group sessions with health professionals were performed, exploring their points of view on the acceptability and feasibility of the web-based application. A multi-category content analysis was done.


1474 people were eligible and 44 health professionals participated in the study. The first level of acceptability (% of people who agreed to receive a text message or an email) was 79.2% (1167 out of 1474). The second level of acceptability (% of participants who click on the self-assessment link) was 60.2% (703 out of 1167). The first level of feasibility (% of participants who completed their self-evaluation entirely) was 76.2% (536 out of 703). The second level of feasibility (% of participants who shared the results with their health professional) was 79.5% (426 out of 536). Health professionals highlighted obstacles to carry out the recommended interventions for people at risk based on their online screening.


Our pilot study on a large sample showed good acceptability and feasibility of “Pulsio Santé” by health service users and professionals. The need for further studies more directly focused on the limitations emerged.


Please cite as:

Anthoine E, Caillon J, Deparis X, Blanche M, Lebeaupin M, Brochard M, Venisse J, Moret L

Assessing the acceptability and feasibility of web-based screening for psychoactive substances in a sample of French university students and workers: a mixed-method prospective study

JMIR Preprints. 16/07/2019:15519

DOI: 10.2196/preprints.15519


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