TitleToward efficient and comprehensive measurement of the alcohol problems continuum in college students: The Brief Young Adult Alcohol Consequences Questionnaire
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2005
AuthorsKahler, CW, Strong, DR, Read, JP, De Boeck, P, Wilson, M, Acton, GS, Palfai, TP, Wood, MD, Mehta, PD, Neale, MC, Flay, BR, Conklin, CA, Clayton, RR, Tiffany, ST, Shiffman, S, Krueger, RF, Nichol, PE, Hicks, BM, Markon, KE, Patrick, CJ, Iacono, WG, McGue, M, Langenbucher, JW, Labouvie, E, Martin, CS, Sanjuan, PM, Bavly, L, Kirisci, L, Chung, T, Vanyukov, M, Dunn, M, Tarter, R, Handel, RW, Ben-Porath, YS, Watt, M
JournalAlcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research
Publication Languageeng
KeywordsPsychometrics, Substance-Related Disorders

Background: Although a number of measures of alcohol problems in college students have been studied, the psychometric development and validation of these scales have been limited, for the most part, to methods based on classical test theory. In this study, we conducted analyses based on item response theory to select a set of items for measuring the alcohol problem severity continuum in college students that balances comprehensiveness and efficiency and is free from significant gender bias., Method: We conducted Rasch model analyses of responses to the 48-item Young Adult Alcohol Consequences Questionnaire by 164 male and 176 female college students who drank on at least a weekly basis. An iterative process using item fit statistics, item severities, item discrimination parameters, model residuals, and analysis of differential item functioning by gender was used to pare the items down to those that best fit a Rasch model and that were most efficient in discriminating among levels of alcohol problems in the sample., Results: The process of iterative Rasch model analyses resulted in a final 24-item scale with the data fitting the unidimensional Rasch model very well. The scale showed excellent distributional properties, had items adequately matched to the severity of alcohol problems in the sample, covered a full range of problem severity, and appeared highly efficient in retaining all of the meaningful variance captured by the original set of 48 items., Conclusions: The use of Rasch model analyses to inform item selection produced a final scale that, in both its comprehensiveness and its efficiency, should be a useful tool for researchers studying alcohol problems in college students. To aid interpretation of raw scores, examples of the types of alcohol problems that are likely to be experienced across a range of selected scores are provided., (C)2005Research Society on AlcoholismAn important, sometimes controversial feature of all psychological phenomena is whether they are categorical or dimensional. A conceptual and psychometric framework is described for distinguishing whether the latent structure behind manifest categories (e.g., psychiatric diagnoses, attitude groups, or stages of development) is category-like or dimension-like. Being dimension-like requires (a) within-category heterogeneity and (b) between-category quantitative differences. Being category-like requires (a) within-category homogeneity and (b) between-category qualitative differences. The relation between this classification and abrupt versus smooth differences is discussed. Hybrid structures are possible. Being category-like is itself a matter of degree; the authors offer a formalized framework to determine this degree. Empirical applications to personality disorders, attitudes toward capital punishment, and stages of cognitive development illustrate the approach., (C) 2005 by the American Psychological AssociationThe authors conducted Rasch model ( G. Rasch, 1960) analyses of items from the Young Adult Alcohol Problems Screening Test (YAAPST; S. C. Hurlbut & K. J. Sher, 1992) to examine the relative severity and ordering of alcohol problems in 806 college students. Items appeared to measure a single dimension of alcohol problem severity, covering a broad range of the latent continuum. Items fit the Rasch model well, with less severe symptoms reliably preceding more severe symptoms in a potential progression toward increasing levels of problem severity. However, certain items did not index problem severity consistently across demographic subgroups. A shortened, alternative version of the YAAPST is proposed, and a norm table is provided that allows for a linking of total YAAPST scores to expected symptom expression., (C) 2004 by the American Psychological AssociationA didactic on latent growth curve modeling for ordinal outcomes is presented. The conceptual aspects of modeling growth with ordinal variables and the notion of threshold invariance are illustrated graphically using a hypothetical example. The ordinal growth model is described in terms of 3 nested models: (a) multivariate normality of the underlying continuous latent variables (yt) and its relationship with the observed ordinal response pattern (Yt), (b) threshold invariance over time, and (c) growth model for the continuous latent variable on a common scale. Algebraic implications of the model restrictions are derived, and practical aspects of fitting ordinal growth models are discussed with the help of an empirical example and Mx script ( M. C. Neale, S. M. Boker, G. Xie, & H. H. Maes, 1999). The necessary conditions for the identification of growth models with ordinal data and the methodological implications of the model of threshold invariance are discussed., (C) 2004 by the American Psychological AssociationRecent research points toward the viability of conceptualizing alcohol problems as arrayed along a continuum. Nevertheless, modern statistical techniques designed to scale multiple problems along a continuum (latent trait modeling; LTM) have rarely been applied to alcohol problems. This study applies LTM methods to data on 110 problems reported during in-person interviews of 1,348 middle-aged men (mean age = 43) from the general population. The results revealed a continuum of severity linking the 110 problems, ranging from heavy and abusive drinking, through tolerance and withdrawal, to serious complications of alcoholism. These results indicate that alcohol problems can be arrayed along a dimension of severity and emphasize the relevance of LTM to informing the conceptualization and assessment of alcohol problems., (C) 2004 by the American Psychological AssociationItem response theory (IRT) is supplanting classical test theory as the basis for measures development. This study demonstrated the utility of IRT for evaluating DSM-IV diagnostic criteria. Data on alcohol, cannabis, and cocaine symptoms from 372 adult clinical participants interviewed with the Composite International Diagnostic Interview-Expanded Substance Abuse Module (CIDI-SAM) were analyzed with Mplus ( B. Muthen & L. Muthen, 1998) and MULTILOG ( D. Thissen, 1991) software. Tolerance and legal problems criteria were dropped because of poor fit with a unidimensional model. Item response curves, test information curves, and testing of variously constrained models suggested that DSM-IV criteria in the CIDI-SAM discriminate between only impaired and less impaired cases and may not be useful to scale case severity. IRT can be used to study the construct validity of DSM-IV diagnoses and to identify diagnostic criteria with poor performance., (C) 2004 by the American Psychological AssociationThis study examined the psychometric characteristics of an index of substance use involvement using item response theory. The sample consisted of 292 men and 140 women who qualified for a Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (3rd ed., rev.; American Psychiatric Association, 1987) substance use disorder (SUD) diagnosis and 293 men and 445 women who did not qualify for a SUD diagnosis. The results indicated that men had a higher probability of endorsing substance use compared with women. The index significantly predicted health, psychiatric, and psychosocial disturbances as well as level of substance use behavior and severity of SUD after a 2-year follow-up. Finally, this index is a reliable and useful prognostic indicator of the risk for SUD and the medical and psychosocial sequelae of drug consumption., (C) 2002 by the American Psychological AssociationComparability, validity, and impact of loss of information of a computerized adaptive administration of the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory-2 (MMPI-2) were assessed in a sample of 140 Veterans Affairs hospital patients. The countdown method ( Butcher, Keller, & Bacon, 1985) was used to adaptively administer Scales L (Lie) and F (Frequency), the 10 clinical scales, and the 15 content scales. Participants completed the MMPI-2 twice, in 1 of 2 conditions: computerized conventional test-retest, or computerized conventional-computerized adaptive. Mean profiles and test-retest correlations across modalities were comparable. Correlations between MMPI-2 scales and criterion measures supported the validity of the countdown method, although some attenuation of validity was suggested for certain health-related items. Loss of information incurred with this mode of adaptive testing has minimal impact on test validity. Item and time savings were substantial., (C) 1999 by the American Psychological Association