Date of Award

1-1-2012

Document Type

Campus Access Thesis

Department

Psychology

Sub-Department

Clinical-Community Psychology

First Advisor

Bradley H Smith

Abstract

Illicit prescription stimulant use (IPSU) is a growing phenomenon among college students in the United States. IPSU is defined as taking a stimulant medication without a prescription or taking a stimulant prescription in higher doses than prescribed. To date, there are four major questions related to IPSU that have been addressed in the extant literature. These questions relate to the prevalence of IPSU, the characteristics of people who engage in IPSU, the motivations for engaging in IPSU, and the risks associated with IPSU. Despite the increasing amount of research dedicated to investigating IPSU, however, mixed findings abound in the literature. One potential reason for conflicting results may be that the overwhelming majority of studies investigating IPSU use self-report survey methods that have not been evaluated for their psychometric properties. Of the seventeen major studies to examine IPSU, fourteen used surveys that have not been established as valid or reliable. Thus, there is a need to evaluate the psychometric properties of the survey instruments used in IPSU research to ensure that accurate conclusions are drawn from the data. Given that reliability is a necessary condition for establishing validity, the present study investigated the test-retest reliability of using survey methodology to collect data on the phenomenon of IPSU. The current findings suggest that reliability varies from good for reporting variables pertinent to categorization of IPSU to unacceptably poor for a variety of risk or protective behaviors. Future research investigating IPSU should consider collecting longitudinal survey data or collecting interview data using timeline follow-back methodology to ensure accurate conclusions, especially if the data is used to make decisions about prevention, treatment, or policy related to IPSU and substance use.

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