Date of Award
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Level of functioning is an important component of comprehensive assessments of adolescent alcohol use behavior. However, comprehensive adolescent substance use measures fail to provide a clear conceptual framework for understanding how alcohol use impacts functioning. Recent research (Lucey, 2009) suggests that alcohol use does negatively impact late-adolescent functioning and it is important to measure an adolescent's alcohol-use behavior and its consequences in conjunction with level of functioning. Thus, a biopsychosocial measure of the impact of alcohol use on late adolescent functioning entitled the Relationship with Alcohol Scale (RAS) was proposed. Items for the RAS were developed from a review of the adolescent and adult alcohol use literature and interviews with late-adolescents. The purpose of the proposed study was to determine the content domains, domain definitions and item relevance of the RAS. Two sequential studies were conducted.
Study I consisted of 20 late-adolescent participants. Participants completed a simple sorting task with the 192 items, in which they were instructed to sort items into piles representing similar areas of life affected by alcohol use. A Multidimensional Scaling analysis and follow-up cluster analysis identified 6 content domains: 1) Social Role Performance, 2) Interpersonal Functioning, 3) Alcohol Use Behavior, 4) Personal Health and Hygiene, 5) Legal-Financial Problems, and 6) Psychological Well-Being. Domain definitions were obtained by reviewing the item clusters obtained from the cluster analysis.
Study II consisted of 50 late-adolescent participants. Participants completed a Q-sorting task, where they were instructed to rate each item within the 6 content domains based on how relevant they were to the domain definition. Aiken's (1980) Validity Indexes were used to identify the most relevant items of the content domains. A total of 45 items were removed from the RAS.
The results of this study identified 6 content domains (4 level of functioning and 2 alcohol use behavior/consequences domains) for a total of 147 items. The strengths of the RAS are its biopsychosocial framework, its use of late-adolescents as content "experts" to identify salient content domains and the use of empirical methods to determine content domains and item relevance. Further studies will need to be conducted to reduce the number of items and to evaluate the psychometric properties of the RAS.