Nicotine Dependence Scale for Adolescents (NDSA)

Nonnemaker, Mowery, Hersey, Nimsch, Farrelly, Messeri, & Haviland (2004)

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Brief Description: This is a brief 6-item instrument designed to measure nicotine dependence. Items were generated from the Fagerstrom Tolerance Questionnaire (Fagerstrom, 1978; Fagerstrom and Schneider, 1989) and the Nicotine Dependence Syndrome Scale (Shiffman et al., 1995).
Target Population: Adolescents, current smokers, average age 15 years, grades 6-11. The scale was validated using data from the American Legacy Longitudinal Tobacco Use Reduction Study (ALLTURS, N = 4,904).
Administrative Issues: Instrument can be self-administered in a classroom setting.
Scoring Information: Factor analysis indicated that the items form a single factor. Two items with factor loadings < .50 were dropped from the scale, leaving six items.

Scores for two items (How soon after you wake up do you usually smoke your first cigarette [on weekends/on weekdays]?) were averaged. The average for those two items is then summed with scores on the remaining 4 items.

The NDSA has a range of 0 to 16.5.
Psychometrics: Internal Consistency: Cronbach's alpha: 0.82.
Validity (correlation coefficients):
  • Lifetime number of cigarettes smoked: r = 0.44.
    Days smoked in the past 30 days: r = 0.66.
    Cigarettes smoked per day on days smoked: r = 0.61.
    Number of quit attempts: r = 0.10.
    Length of quit attempt: r = -0.22.
Measurement properties did not differ by gender, race/ethnicity, or by middle versus high school students.
Correlation with salivary cotinine: r = 0.57a.
Clinical Utility of Instrument: This instrument was developed primarily for survey research purposes; clinical utility is limited. Cut-offs for classifying respondents as dependent or not dependent have not been established.
Research Applicability: This instrument adds to a limited literature studying the measurement of nicotine dependence in adolescent populations. It was designed to be a short self-report measure of an adolescent's the level of dependence on a continuous scale. It can be useful for survey research and for evaluating research models of smoking behavior.
Copyright, Cost, and Source Issues: No charge for use.
Source Reference: Nonnemaker, J.M., Mowery, P.D., Hersey, J.C., Nimsch, C.T., Farrelly, M.C., Messeri, P., & Haviland, M.L. (2004). Measurement properties of a nicotine dependence scale for adolescents, Nicotine & Tobacco Research, 6, 295-301.
Supporting References: Nonnemaker, J. M., Mowery, P., Farrelly, M., Nimsch, C.T., Haviland, L.M., & Healton, C. (2002). A measure of nicotine dependence in an adolescent population. Poster presented at the annual meeting of the Society for Research on Nicotine and Tobacco, Savannah, Georgia.

aNonnemaker, J. M., Nimsch, C. T., & Haviland, L. M. (2003). The measurement properties of a nicotine dependence scale for adolescents: Further evidence. Presented at the annual meeting of the Society for Research on Nicotine and Tobacco, New Orleans, LA.
Author: James M. Nonnemaker, Ph.D.
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  Fagerstrom, K.O. (1978). Measuring the degree of physical dependence to tobacco smoking with reference to individualization of treatment. Addictive Behaviors, 3, 235-241.

Fagerstrom, K.O. & Schneider, N. (1989). Measuring nicotine dependence: A review of the Fagerstrom Tolerance Questionnaire. Journal of Behavioral Medicine, 12, 159-182.

Shiffman, S., Hickcox, M., Gyns, M., Paty, J.A., & Kassel, J.D. (1995). The nicotine dependence syndrome scale: Development of a new measure. Poster presented at the annual meeting of the Society for Research on Nicotine and Tobacco, San Diego, California.
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Last Updated
September 24, 2020