European Drugs and Addiction library

The choice of screening instrument matters: the case of problematic cannabis use screening in Spanish population of adolescents

Summary: 

The aim of this study was to examine the feasibility of problem cannabis use screening instruments administration within wide school surveys.

Main subject: 

Keywords: 

cannabis methodology

Abstract

This abstract is provided here as a convenience only. Check the publisher's website (if available) for the definitive version.

The aim of this study was to examine the feasibility of problem cannabis use screening instruments administration within wide school surveys, their psychometric properties, overlaps, and relationships with other variables. Students from 7 Spanish regions, aged 14-18, who attended secondary schools were sampled by two-stage cluster sampling (net sample 14,589). Standardized, anonymous questionnaire including DSM-IV cannabis abuse criteria, Cannabis Abuse Screening Test (CAST), and Severity of Dependence Scale (SDS) was self-completed with paper and pencil in the selected classrooms. Data was analysed using classical psychometric theory, bivariate tests, and multinomial logistic regression analysis. Not responding to instruments' items (10.5-12.3%) was associated with reporting less frequent cannabis use. The instruments overlapped partially, with 16.1% of positives being positive on all three. SDS was more likely to identify younger users with lower frequency of use who thought habitual cannabis use posed a considerable problem. CAST positivity was associated with frequent cannabis use and related problems. It is feasible to use short psychometric scales in wide school surveys, but one must carefully choose the screening instrument, as different instruments identify different groups of users. These may correspond to different types of problematic cannabis use; however, measurement bias seems to play a role too.