Brief report: Using global positioning system (GPS) enabled cell phones to examine adolescent travel patterns and time in proximity to alcohol outlets

Hilary F. Byrnes, Brenda A. Miller, Christopher N. Morrison, Douglas J. Wiebe, Lillian G. Remer, Sarah E. Wiehe

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)


As adolescents gain freedom to explore new environments unsupervised, more time in proximity to alcohol outlets may increase risks for alcohol and marijuana use. This pilot study: 1) Describes variations in adolescents' proximity to outlets by time of day and day of the week, 2) Examines variations in outlet proximity by drinking and marijuana use status, and 3) Tests feasibility of obtaining real-time data to study adolescent proximity to outlets. U.S. adolescents (N = 18) aged 16-17 (50% female) carried GPS-enabled smartphones for one week with their locations tracked. The geographic areas where adolescents spend time, activity spaces, were created by connecting GPS points sequentially and adding spatial buffers around routes. Proximity to outlets was greater during after school and evening hours. Drinkers and marijuana users were in proximity to outlets 11/2 to 2 times more than non-users. Findings provide information about where adolescents spend time and times of greatest risk, informing prevention efforts.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)65-68
Number of pages4
JournalJournal of Adolescence
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2016


  • Adolescents
  • Alcohol outlets
  • Alcohol use
  • GPS
  • Marijuana use

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