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National Cancer Institute

Tobacco and Alcohol Problems Measure

Wills et al.

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Brief Description: This 16-item inventory was designed as a generic inventory that taps problems associated with different types of adolescent substance use. The items are based on scales by White and Labouvie (1989) and Newcomb (1992). Although some items are more specific to alcohol (e.g., fighting, blackouts), previous analyses have indicated that tobacco use makes as much statistical contribution to problems overall as does alcohol or marijuana use. This is a self-report pencil and paper questionnaire. Response choices to all items are based on a four-point Likert scale with the following anchors: never happened, happened once, happened twice, happened three or more times.
Target Population: This measure has been used in studies of substance use problems among adolescents 15-16 years of age.
Administrative Issues: This measure can be administered to adolescents in classrooms. Administrators read standard instructions and are available for questions.
Scoring Information:

Analyses are based on unweighted composite scores. Two empirically-derived scales can be scored: Control-Dependence Problems and Conduct-Interpersonal Problems. To calculate the control problems scale score, sum the raw scores for items 1, 2, 3, 11, 14, 15, and 16. To calculate the conduct problems scale score, sum the raw scores for items 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 12, and 13.


Psychometric data are available from two large-scale studies of 10th grade students, average age 15. Study 1 consisted of 1699 students and Study 2 consisted of 1225 students. Samples were approximately 47 percent female, 29 percent African American, 3 percent Asian American, 28 percent Hispanic, 40 percent Caucasian, 7 percent other ethnicity, and 3 percent mixed ethnicity.
Internal consistency
Control-Dependence Problems scale: Cronbach's alphas: 0.79, 0.80.
Conduct-Interpersonal Problems scale: Cronbach's alphas: 0.88, 0.84.
Correlations between the two scales: 0.56, 0.54.

Validity data:
Correlations with combined substance use level (tobacco, marijuana, alcohol): Control scale: 0.63, 0.71; Conduct scale: 0.36, 0.54.
Correlation with cigarette smoking: Control scale: 0.56, 0.61; Conduct scale: 0.23, 0.31.

Clinical Utility of Instrument: This measure provides an assessment of the extent to which substance abuse has interfered in the life of an adolescent, and to identify areas that require intervention.
Research Applicability: This measure can be used to as two indicators of the severity of substance abuse problems among adolescent research participants.
Copyright, Cost, and Source Issues: This measure is freely available in the public domain.
No charge for use.
Source Reference: Wills, T.A., Sandy, J.M., & Yaeger, A. (2002). Moderators of the relationship between substance use level and problems: Test of a self-regulation model in middle adolescence. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 111, 3-21.
Supporting References: None.
Author: Thomas A. Wills, Ph.D.
Contact Information: Department of Epidemiology and Social Medicine
Albert Einstein College of Medicine
1300 Morris Park Avenue
Bronx, New York 10461

*Watson, D., & Tellegen, A. (1985). Toward a consensual structure of mood. Psychological Bulletin, 98, 219-235.

Zevon, M.A., & Tellegen, A. (1982). The structure of mood change. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 43, 111-122.

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