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Personal Experience Inventory (PEI)

User Information



Author/Developer / Address:

Ken Winters, Ph.D.
Center for Adolescent Substance Abuse
Department of Psychiatry
Box 393, Mayo Building
University of Minnesota. Minneapolis, MN 55455
(612) 626-2879. winte001@tc.Umn.edu

George Henly, Ph.D.
Department of Counseling
University of North Dakota
Box 8262. University Station
Grand Forks, ND 58202

Publication dates:


Description / Type of Assessment:

PEI is a 276-items self-report (Questionnaire).

Primary use / Purpose:

To identify problems commonly associated with adolescent substance abuse. PEI is designed to document the onset, nature and degree of alcohol and other substance involvement, and to identify the personal risk factors that may precipitate or maintain substance abuse.

Domains measured / Life Areas / Problems Assessed:

Substance use problem severity (10 scales: 94 items).
Substance use frequency/onset: 19 items.
Personal risk factors (8 scales: 79 items).
Environmental risk factors (4 scales: 35 items).
Problem screens such as school problems, family problems, and psychiatric disorders (6 screens: 31 items).
Validity indices (5 scales: 70 items).


Ages 12-18 with 6th grade of reading level.

Administration / Completion Time:

45--60 minutes.

Scoring Procedures:

Western Psychological Services (WPS) provides IBM compatible Windows software for on-site scoring, mail-in service, or fax-in service. The score report from WPS includes the profile of standardized scores obtained by the client and an interpretation narrative.

Scoring Time:

Not specified.


A formal training program is not essential.

Source of Psychometrics:

Norms based on nearly 2,000 adolescents are provided by age and gender for drug clinic and high school. An updated norming study on another 5,000 youth was recently completed.
Winters, K.C.; and Henly, G.A. The Personal Experience Inventory Manual. Los Angeles, CA: Western Psychological Services, 1989.
Winters, K.C.; Stinchfield, R.D.; and Henly, G.A. Further validation of new scales measuring adolescent alcohol and other drug abuse. Journal of Studies on Alcohol 54:534-541, 1993.
Guthmann, D.R., and Brenna, D.C. The Personal Experience Inventory: An assessment of the instrument's validity among a delinquent population in Washington State. Journal of Adolescent Chemical Dependency 1(2):15-24, 1990.
Winters K.C.; Stinchfield R.; and Henly R.A.. Convergent and predictive validity of scales measuring adolescent substance abuse. Journal of Child and Adolescent Substance Abuse 5(3):37-55, 1996.


English and Spanish.

Availability / Inquiries:

Ken Winters, Ph.D. See address above
Tony Gerard, Ph.D.
Senior Project Director
Western Psychological Services
12031 Wilshire Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90025
(310) 478-2061


$145.00 per PEI kit (including Manual and 5 WPS Test Report forms)
$47.50 per PEI manual
$17.75-$21.00 per PEI test depending on size of order and scoring method.

Practicability / usefulness:

PEI is targeted for clinical settings that conduct comprehensive substance abuse evaluations for adolescents. This instrument is designed to provide clinicians with a "comprehensive and standardized tool" to assist in the identification, referral and treatment of problems commonly associated with adolescent alcohol and substance abuse. The PEI is not intended for use as a survey research instrument or as a formal diagnostic tool, and is best suited for providing a comprehensive assessment for decision-making and treatment planning.


PEI is part of a three-tool assessment system, the Minnesota Chemical Dependency Adolescent Assessment Package (MCDAAP). MCDAAP also includes a structured diagnostic interview, the Adolescent Diagnostic Interview, and a brief screening tool, the Personal Experience Screening Questionnaire. As an assessment system, MCDAAP is intended to assist with screening, evaluation, and treatment planning.

Relevant Studies
Review of the Personal Experience Inventory
Toneatto, T.; Psychologist, Addiction Research Foundation, Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Review of the Personal Experience Inventory. In: Murphy, L.L. (Ed.). (1996). Assessment of Substance Abuse. Lincoln, Nebraska: The Buros Institute on Mental Measurements, 57-58.

 The authors describe precisely in the manual the content and purpose of the different scales of the instrument, as well as the target population, the scoring and norms procedures and limitations of the PEI.Reliability estimates of the PEI were assessed (internal consistency and temporal stability) for a sample comprising individuals from different settings: drug clinic, school and juvenile offenders (N = 2,202). Internal consistency coefficients were good, as well as temporal stability coefficients (for one-week and one-month intervals). Content validity appears to be good. The authors demonstrate convergent validity, criterion validity and Discriminant validity. Predictive validity was not assessed. Factor analysis of psychosocial scales showed a four-factor solution, and one of these accounted for 70% of the variance.The PEI is a useful instrument for adolescent substance use and abuse assessment. It is comprehensive, well theoretically based and has good psychometric properties.

Review of the Personal Experience Inventory
Jalie A. Tucker, Professor of Psychology and Co-Director of Clinical Training, Auburn University, Auburn, AL. Review of the Personal Experience Inventory. In: Murphy, L.L. (Ed.). (1996). Assessment of Substance Abuse. Lincoln, Nebraska: The Buros Institute on Mental Measurements, 58-60.

Test construction was thorough and based on adolescent substance abuse research. Detailed information on standardization and psychometric studies is provided in the manual and in journal articles. Reliability studies yielded good to very good internal consistency coefficients across sample type, age and gender. Temporal stability measures were satisfactory for one-week and one-month intervals, although the findings obtained for individuals in treatment cautions against using the PEI as a treatment outcome measure in evaluation research. Validity estimates showed good levels of discriminant validity, convergence with individuals' scores on other related measures. Factor analytic studies showed findings not very supporting about the internal structure of the PEI (construct validity). The PEI needs further studies about the unresolved validity issues. The PEI can be a useful instrument for the clinical purposes for which it was intended, specially if used as a part of overall clinical assessment for treatment planning.

Development of an Adolescent Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse Screening Instrument
Winters. K.C. Development of an Adolescent Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse Screening Instrument: Personal Experience Screening Questionnaire. Addictive Behaviors, 17, 479-490, (1992).

The development of a new adolescent alcohol and other drug abuse screening scale is summarised. The personal Experience Screening Questionnaire (PESQ) is intended to meet the need for a quick, psychometrically adequate adolescent screening tool to measure the need for a comprehensive assessment. The development of the questionnaire's problem severity scale and evidence to its reliability (internal consistency) and validity are described.

Validity of Adolescent Self-Report of Alcohol and other Drug Involvement
Winters, K., Stinchfield, R.D., Henly, G.A., Schwartz, R.H. Validity of Adolescent Self-Report of Alcohol and other Drug Involvement. The International Journal of the Addictions, 25(11A), 1379-1395, (1990-91).

Validity of adolescent self-report of alcohol and drug use and consequential effects and problems is examined. Validity is discussed in terms of its importance in research and clinical work. Also, results from a recent study about the Personal Experience Inventory (PEI) are discussed, which focused on self-report temporal stability and response bias tendencies as evidence of validity. Results indicate that the great majority of subjects gave temporally consistent reports of substance involvement and that only a small proportion of these individuals presented extreme response bias tendencies.

Further Validation of New Scales Measuring Adolescent Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse
Winters, K., Stinchfield, R., Henly, G. Further Validation of New Scales Measuring Adolescent Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse. J. Stud. Alcohol, 54, 534-541, (1993).

The Personal Experience Inventory (PEI) is a recently developed self-report inventory that measures problem severity and psychosocial risk factors associated with adolescents alcohol and drug involvement. The present study examined the concurrent validity of the PEI on a new sample using more controlled research procedures. Results indicated that the PEI Basic Problem Severity scales were significantly related to groups defined by DSM-III-R criteria for substance use disorders and by treatment referral recommendations. Also, the main PEI Problem Severity scale, the personal Involvement scale, correctly classified a significant greater proportion of participants into referral subgroups than would be expected. This evidence provides additional support for the validity of the PEI as a problem severity measure of adolescent alcohol and other drug use.


Page last updated: Thursday, 15 July 2004