A Rasch model analysis of alcohol consumption and problems across adolescence and young adulthood


Kahler, C. W.; Hoeppner, B. B.; & Jackson, K. M. (2009). A Rasch model analysis of alcohol consumption and problems across adolescence and young adulthood. Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research. vol. 33 (4) pp. 663-673 , PMCID: PMC2898713


Background: Recent investigations using item response modeling have begun to conceptualize alcohol consumption, problems, and dependence as representing points along a single continuum of alcohol involvement. Such a conceptualization may be of particular benefit to measurement of alcohol involvement in adolescents, but investigations to date have been limited to adult samples and may not generalize to adolescents due to age-related developmental differences.

Methods: This study used Rasch model analyses to examine the properties of indices of alcohol consumption and problems among 6,353 adolescents, aged 12 to 18 years, in Wave 1 of the Add Health survey. A particular focus was on whether the functioning of items changed when these adolescents were re-interviewed in Wave 3 when they were 18 to 24 years of age.

Results: Rasch model analyses supported the unidimensionality and additive properties of the items in the Wave 1 data. Comparisons of Wave 1 and Wave 3 data indicated differential item functioning in most of the items such that items related to alcohol consumption were more severe during adolescence, whereas items related to alcohol problems were more severe in young adulthood.

Conclusions: A valid index of alcohol involvement in adolescents can be constructed combining indices of alcohol consumption and alcohol problems. Such an index covers a range of severity and functions similarly across sex and race/ethnicity. A similar index can be constructed in young adulthood. However, the interpretation of scores must be attentive to developmental differences. In particular, for adolescents, indices of alcohol consumption are relatively closer in severity to indices of alcohol problems than they are among young adults. Thus, alcohol problems are more likely among adolescents than young adults given a similar level of drinking.





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Journal Article

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Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research


Kahler, C. W.
Hoeppner, B. B.
Jackson, K. M.

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