The paper constructs and tests summary measures for different areas of alcohol-related
problems, using general population data. The main emphasis is on the rather unexplored area of
measuring social harm from drinking.
The data analysed is a Swedish national survey on drinking behaviour and related
consequences, collected in 2002 by means of telephone interviews with 5469 adult Swedes. In total,
38 items on both personal and social problems by respondents attributed to their drinking were
subjected to factor analysis in order to identify different problem areas for which summary measures
could be constructed. The psychometric properties of the measures were then tested.
In line with others’ findings, the problem items tended to load on a single factor. After
Varimax rotation, 11 factors were built, only in part fitting a logical conceptual pattern. In the light
both of the dimensions identified in the factor analysis and of face validity, measures of five areas of
alcohol-related problems were constructed: impaired self-control, chronic health problems, public
disorder, interpersonal problems and alcohol-related social problems. The last measure is a summary
scale including both items covered by public disorder and interpersonal problems scales, as well as a
few other items. In terms of internal consistency and test–retest reliability (analysing a smaller sample
from a test–retest pilot study), the five measures showed satisfactory psychometric properties.
In the light of others’ findings, the measures developed here seem to be more consistent
and reliable than a number of other scales. In order to establish comparability, it seems reasonable to
develop and test similar measures across different drinking cultures and, perhaps, modify them
Informa healthcare , 2007. Vol. 12, no 2, 103-118 p.
Dimensionality of harm from drinking, social consequences, summary measures, general