Substance-related cross-commodity purchase tasks: A systematic review. Academic Article uri icon

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  • Objective

    In the context of behavioral economics, drug use is a choice to which an individual may allocate responding despite the presence of alternative response possibilities. To examine the demand for a drug in an environment in which other drugs or nondrug alternatives are present, researchers often use a cross-commodity purchase task. These tasks allow participants to make choices across several reinforcers at varied unit prices and may elucidate behavioral economic patterns of substitutability and complementarity. The objective of this study was to conduct a systematic review of cross-commodity purchase task studies with human participants.


    Following Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses guidelines, we screened 46 full-text studies (from 456 total records obtained from PsycINFO and PubMed databases and reference list search), yielding a final sample of 35 studies.


    The drug category with the largest number of studies assessed was tobacco and nicotine products. The most consistent economic relationships found were substitutability of traditional cigarettes by e-cigarettes and e-liquid, and both legal and illegal cannabis for the other; however, other substitutable and complementary relationships were observed (e.g., substitution of food for cigarettes, a complementary relationship between alcohol and cannabis).


    We discuss the implications of the results of this review from a treatment and harm reduction standpoint, highlight areas for future research particularly among drug categories with few studies and evaluating ecological validity of hypothetical measures, and make best practice recommendations for future cross-commodity drug-related purchase task research. (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2022 APA, all rights reserved).

publication date

  • July 4, 2022